How to Judge Toner or Ink Cartridge Yield for Printers

If you are buying ink or toner cartridge for your printer, the most common questions that come to the mind are `how long the cartridge will last?’ or `how many pages will I be able to print before the ink or toner cartridge runs out?’ or `how much ink a printer will use over a prolonged period?’ In order to judge how much ink you are going to use for printing, you need to know the yield of the ink cartridge.

You, as the first time buyer, may be unaware of the meaning of the phrase ‘cartridge yield’. `Cartridge yield’ refers to the number of pages you can print with each ink or toner cartridge.

Manufacturers list the yield of the cartridge on their sites to help the user judge before purchasing a cartridge. Yield is generally expressed as a certain number of pages based on a certain amount of text coverage per page. For example, “1000 pages at 5% coverage”. The coverage figures are generally 3% to 5% for normal text documents. You must note that printing a text page is different from printing an image. A 5% yield may work for a text page but not for a graphic-laden page. When you print a photograph, the ink will cover all or almost all of the paper. Whereas, a text page is mostly white space with very little area covered with ink.

Given the above, it is therefore quite easy to find the yield of your printer cartridge:

  • Go to the site of the manufacturer of your printer
  • Go to the description of your printer
  • Look for and Click on the printer specifications
  • There should be a category called Yield or Cartridge Life. Click on it.

You should be able to view the yield of your cartridge. All manufacturers may not list the yield of their products. Those who do will usually have one for black and one for color inks. They may also have different yield figures for each color.

While purchasing a printer, cartridge yield is one of the key factors that you must take into consideration:

  • Check the yield of different printers – the printer with a higher yield may be priced higher but in the long run it may be cost-effective because of a lower per-page cost.
  • Check the cartridge life – the average shelf life is approximately 18 to 24 months if the cartridge is stored in a cool, dry place. The cartridge usually has an Install-by-Date & End-of-Warranty date or similar date ranges. This is to prevent users from hanging on to printer cartridges for long as these have a tendency to thicken and cake after a particular time span


However, cartridge yield is just one of the important factors in printer choice. Reliability, Productivity, Quality and User-friendliness of the printer are also important criteria.

Authored by: Bobby Hudson