Getting More from Your Printer: Which Font is Most Efficient?

Huw Carrington of printer cartridge superstore, has been investigating what the manufacturers mean when they say their cartridges yield so many pages based on ‘5% coverage’.

ISO 19798:2007, isn’t a very catchy name and furthermore this British Standard is a rather misunderstood system used for the measuring of how much printing a toner cartridge will do before it’s empty. It works out the number of pages based on each sheet having 5% of its surface covered by printing.

When I asked around it seems that most people don’t understand how little this is. In fact, the majority think the promised 5% is  a full page of text, sometimes with the odd image thrown in., But I found that this is far from the truth. Even business-documents, like invoices, with open expanses of virgin white paper are usually considerably more than this standard.

So, what does 5% actually look like?

ISO has its own document for measuring it, with some text and a graph on it, but this is of limited use as it doesn’t look anything like a normal document you might print out.

Because of this, I did some research and found a rather nice program from AVPsoft that calculates the amount of ink or toner that will be used for printing a given document. Next I  set about doing some experimentation.

The end result was several dozen sheets of paper, each with a 5% coverage of text (‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy brown dog’ (and yes, I know, if I’d have used the present tense it would have had all the letters of the alphabet on it). Here’re two examples using common fonts.

Arial font - 10 pointtimes New Roman - 12 point

Using the Arial font in size 10, the 5% coverage takes up just over a third of an A4 page. Therefore a full page of text would be 10% – 15% and a cartridge quoted to yield 3,000 pages (at 5%) will only last for 1,000-1,500 pages.

If you prefer Times New Roman size 12, this uses slightly less ink as nearly half a page equates to the 5%. However, for a multi-page document, you will use more paper with TNR than if you type in Arial 10. So the choice is to use more paper or more ink.

An ink-efficient font

Some more detailed research showed that you can get a higher word count with some font types than others, and that decreasing the size of the font can again increase the word count you’ll get with a given amount of toner.

So if you want to get the most printing for your money, switch to Calibri. I found that you can get nearly half again as many words on a page with it as you can with other popular typefaces like Arial or Times New Roman.

Hopefully you’ll now have at least a more realistic idea of the life expectancy of your toners.

About the author:

Huw Carrington heads up the Sales and Customer Service Division at He is the driving force behind Stinkyink’s ISO 9001 status and a firm advocate of high quality management standards.

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