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What does 5% page coverage mean?

This is a biggy. If we had a pound for every time someone asked us what 5% page coverage is on a weekly basis we’d probably be writing this post from a beach somewhere whilst sipping on caviar smoothies! (Actually, that sounds disgusting).

“I’ve bought a new toner cartridge and it say’s it has 5% page coverage. What does this mean?”

It says it on nearly all original toners. Yet so many people don’t know what page coverage means, how it’s calculated or what it looks like on a page.

In Detail…

So let’s try and shed some light on it.

The first thing that we need to define is page yield/duty cycle. This is a volume that’s designed to give you a rough idea of how many pages you should be able to print before your cartridge runs out of toner.

However, it’s difficult to calculate without parameters. For example, you might own a Samsung printer that uses a ML1210D3 toner cartridge, a product with a duty cycle of 2500 pages. If you generally just print black and white Word documents and emails, then it’s more likely that you’ll get closer to that number than someone else using the same toner cartridge but who prints lots of documents in colour every day.


Duty cycle advertised on TonerGiant

So how can manufacturers like Samsung say that their toner cartridges can have duty cycles of 2500 pages? They calculate the numbers based on ‘page coverage.’ This is an industry standard measurement enforced by the Office of Fair Trading. This is how much text, colour, imagery etc. there is on a print out.

As you might expect, a print out with 5% page coverage will probably have a lot less of these elements than a print out that has 60% page coverage. Also, remember that printing photographs will use a helluva lot more ink and toner, too.

So if we use the ML1210D3 toner as an example again, you will be able to print out 2500 pages before you run out…if your average page coverage is 5%. (That’s why we say “up to” 2,500 pages on our site).

Still with us? Good!

So what does 5% page coverage look like?

This should give you an idea:


5% page coverage

Example of 5% page coverage

It’s worth bearing in mind that font choice, boldness and colour will have an impact on this. But this image roughly represents what 5% page coverage looks like.

Again, going back to the ML1210D3 toner example, if you printed out something like this every single time, or averaged this amount, you should expect to get around 2500 pages from your cartridge based on Samsung’s calculations.

Some people don’t realise just how little 5% actually is. But if you take this into consideration when reading what your cartridges’ duty cycle/page yield is, you’ll appreciate that it is really only a rough estimate.

What can I do to maximise the amount of toner in my cartridge?

Ok, so it’s going to be difficult to average 5%. But there are a few things that you can do to help make that toner go just that little bit further.

Bank notes being squeezed out of sponge

Our post with advice on saving printer ink (and toner) outlines 7 really helpful tips that can dramatically help you to reduce wastage. Furthermore, it is worth considering:

  • Setting your printer to draft mode. This reduces the quality a little (such as making font fainter), but it is ideal for when you’re only printing out rough or internal documents.
  • Your printing behaviour. If you’re printing out every little document and email, think whether or not you actually really need to do so.
  • Keeping digital copies. Save invoices/letters/emails etc. to your hard drive or smartphone, rather than printing them off.
  • Reducing the amount of letters you send. Lots of post means more printouts; could you say it in an email, instead?

Hopefully this has made things a little clearer. As long as you remember that the duty cycle figure is only meant to be taken as a guide (and how it’s calculated in terms of page coverage), it should leave you feeling a little less short changed.


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