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Printer Ink Yield: Everything you need to know

While buying a new printer, the discounted price is not the only important factor. There’s something that often gets ignored but is extremely critical – the printer ink yield or toner yield of the cartridges which will be used in the printer you are buying. Ignoring this number is like throwing away the money. 

What exactly is printer ink yield or toner yield and what makes it important?

It refers to the estimated number of pages that can be printed by a toner or ink cartridge before the need to replace it.

The yield is important because it defines the cost per page for that printer which eventually forms the part of the operating cost of that printer. It is essential to know the yield particularly in the case of large format printers that experience high volumes. 

You can calculate the Cost Per Page (CPP) if you know the correct ink yield and the price you paid for the ink. This calculates the cost to print every page while using a specific ink or toner and help evaluate how cost effective the ink really is.

Price / Ink Yield = Cost Per Page

The printing requirement might not always be same for everyone. A monochrome ink cartridge might suggest that it can print 600 pages while a color cartridge could print 300 pages. There might even be brands that claim their cartridges can print twice the number of pages than a basic cartridge for the same model. Different types of cartridges have different printer ink/toner yield. These estimates are based on ISO standard of 5%-page coverage.

What is the 5% coverage rule?

In the early 2000s, the international standard for organization (ISO) laid out standard for printer ink yield so that the consumers can accurately measure and compare various printers from competing brands. The details are laid out under the ISO/IEC 24712 series. Since all manufacturers have to comply to the same testing and standards, consumers are able to make informed purchasing decision.

The 5% coverage metric stands for the percentage of a standard paper that the ink will cover. When the ink yield is specified to be ‘x’ number of pages, it means that the cartridge will print that many pages with 5% coverage. 

With different people having different printing habits, the actual yield can differ. It is like comparing fuel efficiency among different car models where the mileage would differ from driver to driver based on their driving pattern. It also depends on other factors like the print quality settings, and the type of document being printed. Whether the page has text or images will also affect the coverage and the page yield.



Factors affecting the Ink Yield

The ink yield is just an estimation and not a definite number. It increases or decreases due to different factors like size of the page, type of font, page coverage, storage condition, age of cartridge and printhead cleaning. These would not be key considerations when the quantity of prints is low since they won’t make much difference. Choosing wisely can help save huge sums of money. 

When to use a standard or high yield ink cartridge

Cartridges come in different sizes and obviously their yields vary too. The high yield or larger cartridges print much more than a standard one. Here is an example – The Epson 802 ink 

Standard Yield Cartridge High Yield Cartridge (XL)
Black 900 Pages 2,600 Pages
Cyan 650 Pages 1,900 Pages
Magenta 650 Pages 1,900 Pages
Yellow 650 Pages 1,900 Pages

For an inkjet printer, when you do not print regularly, standard ink cartridges are a good choice but for higher number and often printing needs high yield cartridges will be cost effective. Similarly, a laser printer needs for home can be met by standard yield cartridges, while for office, it would be better to opt for higher yield ink cartridges.


Different cartridges with varying yields are used by different printers. People look at the upfront cost while buying a printer but we suggest you take the running cost just as seriously. The ink yield will decide how often and how many replacements you will need to keep your printer running. The higher the yield the lesser the replacements leading to more cost savings.

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