How many pages will I print from my Ink Jet Cartridge?

How many pages will I get from my ink jet cartridge

We get this question all the time at Ink & Toner Solutions. It’s extremely frustrating for the consumer to buy an ink cartridge and not have any information as to what they are getting in terms of how many prints they can expect to get from it. Unfortunately that is exactly what the consumer encounters when they purchase their ink jet cartridge.

After you buy your inkjet cartridge and get it home you will notice there is no information whats so ever on the box itself stating how many pages you can expect to get from that cartridge. Asking the sales rep will usually yield (pun intended) very little information. You could go on line and attempt to find what the page yield is on your cartridge, some times you can find it and sometimes you can’t. But in my opinion this is the type of information that should be spelled out on the box for all to see. Why would the manufacturers not do this?

When your looking for a new printer wouldn’t it be nice if this information was printed in plain sight right on the box in bold letters? In this way a customer could make an intelligent decision as to what printer model will best suit his or her needs.

On the rare occasion that you do find the page yield it can very misleading. Let’s say the stated page yield is 600 pages, the consumer automatically thinks, great I’ll get 600 pages. Wrong! You could get as little as 200 or 300 pages. Let me explain.

Let’s say you print a short letter with a header, one or two paragraphs and a signature. That would be considered about 5% coverage on a 8 1/2 X 11 standard sheet of paper.Here’s an example of what 5% coverage looks like:

5% Page Coverage
5% Page Coverage

Believe it or not this is what the manufacturers are basing the Page Yield on. There’s a few problems with this. The main one is if the page yield is not printed anywhere how is the consumer supposed to know how many pages he/she is supposed to get? If it does state a page yield it sure doesn’t say it is based on only 5% coverage. Just for this example lets say you do find out your cartridge is supposed to get 600 pages. You happen to be printing flyers that have graphics and text that covers the entire page. Your happily printing away and your cartridge runs out after printing only 200 flyers. What happened?  Your page coverage is most likely around the 75% coverage mark. Of course the reaction is you got screwed, the cartridge was not full and you want your money back, good luck with that one.

If the cartridge happens to be a “remanufactured” cartridge the consumer immediately jumps to the conclusion that the refilled cartridge was not filled to capacity. Because the consumer does not have the correct information they need it causes a lot of confusion. Ink & Toner Solutions sees this all the time and for that reason we keep examples of what 5%, 10%, and 40% page coverage looks like, I’ve included images of these examples so you can see for yourself what the different coverage’s look like.

10% page coverage
10% page coverage





20% Page Coverage
20% Page Coverage
40% Page Coverage
40% Page Coverage


This really helps in clarifying page yield but invariable elicits the response “why the hell don’t they just put that on the box”. Good question and I don’t have an answer, other than that the boxes are too small to fit this article. Maybe that’s why?

Even though New Jersey passed legislation that requires manufactures of ink jet cartridges to display the estimated number of prints each cartridge should get they fell short in that they did not include in the legislation that they should also add that page yield is based on the 5% coverage standard. The manufacturers fall short because in my opinion they should not have to be told to add this information to their product.

If a prospective buyer only prints short notes or letters than the system works and you get what you’d expect. But what about a customer that prints a lot and completely fills each page with text or graphics? Then this system makes no sense at all. We need the manufacturers to step up and fix this lack of concern for the very people that are buying their product. Imagine any other industry not stating on the label what you are getting and how much you can expect to get out of it? How about the paint industry, right on the label it states how many square feet the amount of paint you are buying will cover, this is just common sense.

Could it be that the manufacturers don’t want the consumer to know this critical piece of information? Could it be that they make so much money on the sale of ink after you have purchased the printer that this kind of information would likely hurt them?

Even the 5% standard is a dodgy one. Different fonts can yield different page yields. For example if you took the standard 5% page coverage example above but changed the font to bold and increased the size of the font you still won’t get the stated page yield for that cartridges.

One way to get the most printing out of your cartridges is by using the Calibri  font, (available with most versions of Windows from Vista and later as well as most modern versions of Microsoft Office)as it is narrower and uses less ink per character.

There’s also a company called Ecofont that has software that is supposed to save on ink and toner by printing in their own proprietary font.

As New Jersey State Assemblyman Paul Moriarty said, “Printer ink could possible be more expensive than Dom Perignon Champagne or the most expensive Paris perfumes because you get less than an ounce of printer ink in those cartridges and yet sometimes you’re paying $50 for less than an ounce.”

Think about this the next time you are in the market for a new printer. Ask the question, how much does the ink cartridge cost and how many pages can I expect to get from each cartridge.

Another way to save on the cost of ink is to look into high quality remanufactured cartridges. Always buy from a reputable business that backs up what they sell with a 100% guarantee that you are getting a cartridge that matches the page yield and quality of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version.  By going this route you save your self some cash and at the same time you’re helping to recycle and reuse products.

No matter where you buy your ink jet cartridges make sure to research what the actual page yield is so you can match the printer and cartridges to your printing requirements.

We would love to hear if you have run into this problem and what you did about it.


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9 thoughts on “How many pages will I print from my Ink Jet Cartridge?

  1. Hey, this was great, thanks for taking the time to write it. We have been working on the high cost of printing in the office and this was very useful.

    1. Ink is more expensive than gold per ounce, so obviously the high cost of printing is something we hear about everyday from our customers. Good to know we aren’t the only ones who want to try to help. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the useful information. I print out a lot of paperwork for my merchandising job. Although they do give us a small amount to cover the cost I don’t think it is enough. I thought I would count the number of pages for my latest cartridge I used. I was shocked. Although I could be off by a little, it only printed out 88 pages. That amounts to anywhere from .12- .16 cents/ sheet. Even if I was off by 30 pages that is still awful. It is an HP printer and I am buying a cartridge almost every 2-3 weeks. It might be better to look into buying a different printer. This is ridiculous. I use to be able to refill my own cartridges but I don’t think you can do that anymore.

  3. Even at 5%, their quoted page yield is very misleading. I purchased an HP 564 XL cartridge. The “XL” is supposed to last twice as long and yield “up to” 550 pages. I meticulously recorded every page printed even if it only contained as little as one line of text. My printing primarily consists of letters containing a paragraph or two of print, almost never a full page of text. After only 125 pages I was out of black ink. Worse, 50 of those pages were color brochures that used very little black ink. All told, my total yield, at 5% coverage, was maybe 80 pages, less than 15% of HP’s advertised yield. I would be thrilled to get even half what these con artists advertise as their yeild.

    1. The 564 series (and many of HP’s tank type carts) also usually go through a priming cycle when the printer is powered on and at other times when the printer is programmed to, this uses ink also. As well as if you have to perform any cleaning cycles, those use a LOT of ink.

      But thank you so much for your post, it’s rare to get actual user-tested results, and it’s easy to assume the big corporation is trying to get one over on us, it’s not everyday someone sets out to prove it. Thank you!

  4. I bought the NEW XL 932 black cartridge from COSTCO. After 150 pages on DRAFT print setting my cartridge indicate "NEEDING REPLACEMENT" This is unacceptable and very misleading since the manufacture statements say up to 1000 pages.

  5. Hello! I thought there was something ” wrong ” with my printer ! I get approximately 200 pages out of my black 564 xl ink cartridges. I always run my printer on the”draft” setting. My old printer was just a black and white ink jet printer but I got MUCH better service from it when considering the number of pages I was able to print from one cartridge. ( 500 – 600 pages per cartridge) In my personal opinion, the problem lies in the design of the new cartidges. The older printer I own has cartridges which have a cover over the opening where the ink is dispersed from. The newer cartridges have no cover. The cartridge itself is just basically a covering for a sponge which is saturated in ink – when the sponge dries out the ink does as well. I believe the covers were discarded by ink jet companies because they were in fact made out of gold. (A very small amount of gold – but as everyone knows gold is expensive) I think this problem could be easily resolved in future ink jet printer/cartridge designs by adding a cover over the cartridge opening.

    1. Hi Jerry,

      In general, the standard yield 564 colors are rated at “up to 300 pages”. Not taking into account all of the auto-cleaning and priming cycles that the printer will do, that’s what each color individually will yield if you print at 5% coverage of each color, or 15% color coverage total.

      One of the examples we use here from Les Olson Company gives a great visual of what 5% color coverage looks like also (there is a .PDF attachment at this page):

      You don’t get much color with only 5%/per color coverage, so if you do large color photos/images on the page, expect to really get a lot fewer copies (like 150 or less) with the standard yield. Fortunately the XL size of those gives you more than double the ink volume, we ALWAYS recommend investing in the XL because the cost per page is lower.

      Hope this helps!

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