There are 6 reasons for your printer not printing dark enough. These causes affect both inkjet and laser printers. Most causes are easy to fix.
Is your printer printing faded text? It could be low on ink, set to econo mode, have clogged print heads, or be using low-quality coarse paper. It could also be affected by high/low humidity or be from image ghosting on a laser printer. Here’s how to fix each cause.
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Why is Your Printer Printing Faded?
Why is my printer printing faded text? It could be for a number of reasons. Here are the 6 most common that we’ve seen so far.
1. Low Ink or Toner
We might assume that if our printer is printing, it must have enough ink.
But that isn’t necessarily the case. Some printers give low-ink warnings. Others just print until dry. If you have light text and faded printing, you might be running out of ink or toner.
Solution: Check ink and toner levels. Here’s how to do that. Then, change the ink as required.
If your printer ink is full but still printing faded, see this next cause.
2. Printer Settings: Econo Mode
To help save ink and toner, some printers have an economy mode. This prints everything you send to it, but it with much less ink.
The result can be a faded look on your text.
Solution: Check printer settings. Look for a toggle or check box labeled Eco Mode (Samsung), EconoMode (HP), Eco Mode (Epson), or ECO (Canon). Each brand has a unique name for the same feature. These settings save ink and toner – but can reduce the quality of the print.
In the Print Dialog box, you will see Quality under More Settings. There are two quality ratings: 600 dpi and 1200 dpi (dots per inch). While 1200 dpi will be technically better quality, I print documents at 600 and they look great.
If your settings show an ink or toner density level, try increasing it and printing another test page.
3. Print Heads Clogged
Clogged print heads can affect print quality. Sometimes it will print sporadically and other times it just won’t print one color.
If you have light text color, you might have a clogged print head. This can prevent enough ink from passing through to the paper.
Solution: Perform a Print Head Cleaning function. Most printers have this feature – either through the software or on the printer directly.
Here are three ways to clean clogged print heads.
4. Low-Quality Paper (Coarse)
If you are printing on low-quality paper stock, the liquid ink will soak into the coarse, porous paper. When the paper acts like a sponge, it will affect the clarity and crispness of the print.
This is especially true with fine print. A tiny font that might print well on a quality paper stock could be illegible and faded-looking on cheap paper.
An example of porous paper is construction paper. Here’s more about printing on construction paper.
Solution: Try a test page on a single sheet of quality paper. If it prints normally, you’ll know that it is a paper problem. Just swap for some better paper.
What paper stock do I use? I like HP Premium 24 paper stock. It is a 24-pound stock, with 163 whiteness. It’s smooth and prints super crisp on my Canon FM451dw laser printer.
I’ve read that humidity extremes (too moist or too dry) can affect print quality. But I haven’t experienced this.
We’ve lived in both extremely dry climates (high in Ecuador’s Andes) and in subtropical climates and haven’t noticed humidity affect either our inkjet or laser print quality.
But if you’ve tried the other steps, it’s worth considering if this could be a factor in your setup.
Solution: Monitor the humidity and see if the problem only occurs at high or low humidity, or if
Here are some suggestions for specific models.
6. Ghosting (Laser Printers)
If something fails on your fuser roller in your laser printer, it’s possible to get a ghosted image on your page.
When not all of the toner transfers to the page, some toner remains on the roller. When the next sheet goes through, there will be a ghost – or faded – image.
This is an uncommon problem. Most laser printers have rollers that are replaced with each toner. So they don’t remain in the printer long enough to fail.
But it can happen. When I bought my first laser printer out of high school, I had this problem. I used it for 9+ years but at the end of its life, it was laying down text from a previous print job on the current page.
Solution: Clean your laser printer. Vacuum it out. Maybe try a fresh toner cartridge and see if the problem continues.
How did it go for you? Did you get the faded print fixed? Please share your experience below to help other readers.