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Print for less

Question : My kids seem to want to print everything: webpages, long lists of game codes, and of course school work. The trouble is that they're running through ink at an alarming rate. Short of banning them from using the printer, do you have any tips for how we can lower our printing costs?

Answer : The first step, as I'm sure you know, is to have a chat with your kids to decide exactly what is acceptable to print and what is not.

Beyond that, though, there's quite a lot you can do to lower overall printing costs.

First, make sure you're using the right kind of printer.

If your kids -- or you -- regularly print a lot of text-heavy pages, then you should be using a laser printer and not an inkjet printer.

The cost-per-page of laser printers is significantly lower than that of inkjets, many of which are optimised for printing graphics and photos as much as for text.

Second, open the printer driver for the printer that you use, and make sure that you've activated any ink or toner saving mode that's available.

Many laser printers that have a maximum resolution of, say, 600dpi or 1200dpi will also be able to print out at half that resolution in the toner-saving mode. That adds up to a significant savings in toner costs and still yields quality that is more than accept- able for most jobs.

Finally, don't exchange a toner cartridge at the first sign of low ink.

Many toner cartridges begin to show signs of running low on ink -- streaky pages or fainter text -- but can in fact go on printing for 50 or more pages. Just remove the cartridge. shake it gently from side to side, and then reinsert it.


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