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Four ways to save on printer ink

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 3:53PM Tuesday October 30, 2012
under Money Saving Tips

Tired of spending a small fortune on printer ink? I hear you loud and clear. In my homework-heavy household, it seems like I'm replacing inkjet cartridges every couple weeks--to the tune of $30-40 a pop.

Fortunately, as a card-carrying tech-pert, I've learned a few things about conserving ink. With a few simple tweaks to the way you work, you can stretch those cartridges a lot farther--and maybe even save some paper along the way.

1. Use economy/draft mode
By default, every print churns out the sharpest, richest text and images it can. But how often do you really need the highest quality output? If you're simply printing a draft or something that's not headed to the boss/teacher, consider an ink-saving alternative.

Most printers have an economy or draft mode that uses less ink. The output won't be as dark, but it'll still be readable. My advice: make economy/draft the default mode, and switch to "normal" only when you absolutely need the best quality.

2. Print two pages on one sheet 
While you're tinkering with the printer settings, look for an option related to "pages per sheet." You can actually squeeze two pages onto a single sheet of paper. Granted, the text gets smaller, but that may be fine for certain kinds of print jobs. And as an added bonus, you'll use half the paper.

3. Print PDFs instead
Here's the question of the hour: Why are you printing at all? These days it's often more convenient to "print" a PDF--you know, an electronic version of your document. Most word processors, Web browser, and other programs now offer this as a built-in option.

If you're using one that doesn't, you can install a utility like CutePDF Writer, which lets you "print to PDF" from nearly any program. It's free, and in my experience, it works beautifully.

4. Hit up
You knew this one was coming, right? A quick perusal of's printer section reveals huge discounts from the likes of Carrot Ink, Double Inks, and Printer Bazaar. At some point you'll need extra ink, so you might as well get the best deal you can!

Have you found other ways to save money on printer ink? Tell me about it in the comments!

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.