Taking Technology Further



4 Easy Steps to Calculate Your Cost-Per-Print

Posted by Terry Willis on 10/8/13 8:03 AM

Cost per printCost-per-print is an important factor to take into account when determining which printer to purchase. It can also be used to monitor the efficiency of your machine and supply usage. For example, if your cost-per-print trend increases over time, your office could be inefficiently using your printer or the printer is becoming less efficient. On a different note, you can also calculate cost-per-print to determine which toner cartridges produce the most cost-efficient results. 

Let's get to the number crunching so you can start using and applying these calculations...

There's two ways to go about calculating your cost-per-print. The first option is to have a print provider do it during a print assessment, via print management software installed on your device. As you may have guessed, this is the more time-intensive approach because of how the data is gathered; but, the results you get are much more accurate. 

The second, quicker method, is manual; here's how it's done. Please note however, this isn’t a precise measurement, because there are multiple factors that can affect results. Those are discussed at the end of this article.


Calculating Your Cost-Per-Print

#1 – Determine Your Printer Manufacturer and Model Number

Cost-per-print calculations vary by printer and manufacturer. So determine this information before beginning your calculation. These details can be located directly on your printer, within the manual or your computer’s control panel.

#2 – Determine Your Yield per Cartridge

Most manufacturers share their page yield figures on their website and, often, on the side of their toner cartridge packaging. Different page yield figures are provided for black-and-white and color printing, and most manufacturers run a variation of the following tests to determine these figures:

  • To calculate black-and-white page yields, manufacturers print a text document that uses toner to cover about 5 percent of the page over and over again until the toner cartridge is empty.
  • To calculate color page yields they print a document that combines text and graphics, using toner that covers about 20 percent of the page, until each cartridge empties

#3 – Determine the Price of Each Toner Cartridge

If you are calculating your exact cost-per-print you will need to identify the cost of the cartridges you are using. You may need assistance from accounting or purchasing to obtain these details.

If you have difficulty obtaining this information, you can use average retail prices for the toner cartridges you use. You can find these figures on print manufacturers’ websites or on office supply sites.

To determine black-and-white cost-per-print you will only need the price of the black toner cartridge. For color you will need the cost of all cartridges: black, cyan, magenta and yellow.

#4 – Calculate Cost-Per Print

When you have gathered all of the above information, you can calculate your cost-per-print; for black-and-white cost-per-print you will divide the cost of the toner cartridge by the page yield.

Black-and-white example:

Toner Cost Cartridge ÷ Page Yield = Cost-Per-Print
X ÷ Y = Z
84.99 ÷ 2200 = .038

A simple method to determine color cost-per-print would be to use the above calculated black-and-white cost. Additionally, assuming all color cartridges are the same price with equal page yields, you can determine the cost-per-print of one color cartridge (as done above) and multiply it by 3. Finally, add in the black-and-white cost-per-print.

Color example:

[((Toner Cartridge Cost of 1 Color Cartridge ÷ Page Yield of 1 Color Cartridge) x 3)] + Black-and-White Cost-Per-Print = Color Cost-Per-Print
[(A ÷ B) x3] + Z = Color Cost-Per-Print
[(119.99 ÷ 2600) x 3] + .038 = .176


Factors that Will Affect Your Results

These calculations can give you a fairly clear understanding of what it is costing you to print, per page. However, there are many factors that can affect your results.

Which type of cartridges you use will affect your calculations. Testing done to determine page yield is done with the manufacturers’ toner cartridges. Choosing any other cartridge – refilled, remanufactured, another brand, or high yield for example – will have some impact on your total cost-per-print.

Additionally, the test documents printed in a lab to determine page yield can’t precisely match what actually gets printed within organizations. The types of documents you print will differ from those used in the testing phase; therefore the amount of toner actually used on your documents will differ from what was tested.

The age of your printer, the types of documents printed, the environment where your printer is located, how often your printer is used and more will affect your cost-per-print calculations. Although these calculations can be used effectively to manage and monitor your costs, know that small fluctuations may occur due to these other factors.

Cloud Checklist - Is the cloud right for your business?


Topics: Printing Costs, General Printing Advice