Print Quality

This article is written primarily to help people who own domestic inkjet printers to get the best compromise between print quality and cost, when printing the types of document available on this web site. It is not possible to provide advice on specific printer models, but the following general guidance should be applicable to most.

Printing Text Documents

If you are printing any of the documents on this site to send to external organisations, please remember that in order to give a professional image to recipients, it is important to produce high quality prints. This does not have to come at a significantly higher price than low quality draft; it is really when you get to photographic quality that the costs really rise.

It is strongly advised that you do not attempt to print documents using the highest print quality levels, when printing on normal 80gsm office paper – at this level of quality the printer puts down so much ink that it can soak the paper and cause bleed-through of the ink, so that it marks the other side of the paper. Where you are printing images (logos or other illustrations) it is also likely to wrinkle the paper.

For normal use, "Fast Draft" will often produce completely acceptable results on good quality paper, although colours in logos and illustrations might appear a little washed out. For better quality, just try printing a single page at increasing quality levels - you will almost certainly find that at first you will see an improvement in print quality, but after a certain point no further improvement is seen, or the improvement is very small. There is really little point in going beyond the print level where the improvements stop - you will just be using more ink than necessary.

Also bear in mind that the paper quality has a profound impact on the finished results. Cheap, low grade paper may never produce the quality you can get from a better paper. In fact some cheaper papers can be a false economy, as you will spend more in ink than you save on paper costs to get an acceptable result. Worse still using low grade paper is likely to shorten the life of almost any printer, by shedding fibres that will eventually clog up print heads and moving parts.

Another solution that many people find effective is ink-saving software. This works by allowing you to fine tune the amount of ink used - for example you might find that using 60% of the standard amount of ink you get no noticeable drop in quality. Often when you increase the print quality, you increase the number of dots per inch (dpi) printed, but each dot uses the same amount of ink; the ink-saving software normally works by allowing you to use higher dpi (resolution), but smaller ink-drop size, so you get an improvement in sharpness of the print, without using significantly more ink. However, such software is not always compatible with all current printers, so you will need to check in the software documentation that it will work with yours.


Another way of economising would be to print documents in grey-scale (often incorrectly called "black and white"). It will certainly eliminate the use of your expensive colour cartridge(s) ... or will it?

If you use your normal colour printer to print documents that consist only of black text, you would expect only to use black ink, but with many printers you would be wrong! Most black inks appear slightly coloured and not quite dark enough, when they are applied to some papers, so to compensate for this many printers will add small amounts of coloured ink to give a better black.

If you specify grey-scale printing, many printers will additionally allow you to specify "only use black ink", but this is rarely the default. If you do select this feature then you will save the coloured ink and will probably not even notice the quality difference.

All KAA documents have been designed to print well in either colour or grey-scale, but this might not always be true of other documents - some colours will be perfectly visible when printed as intended, but may be too feint to read if printed in grey-scale.

Other Printing Problems

Some printers may require margins that are greater than those currently set for a particular document. Your printer driver software should automatically detect this and give a warning. If you encounter this problem it is worth trying a test print anyway – even if the margins are too small, there may not actually be anything printable near the offending margin. If problems are encountered, please contact the webmaster for further advice.

Occasionally you may find that a printer fails to print text that is close to a margin (especially the bottom margin), even when the margin has been correctly set. This may be caused by incorrect paper alignment in the printer, but is probably more likely caused by using standard office grade paper – remove it, fan it out and put it back in the printer, carefully checking any moveable paper guides.

Both of these problems might also be solved by printing the PDF version of the document. In most cases the Adobe Reader print process automatically detects printer margins and automatically scales the content to the printable area. If printing as an A4 document, the "Page Scaling" drop-down menu contains options that will help - unfortunately these options are not available when printing the document as an A5 booklet.