How to Calculate Your True Cost of Printing (Cost-per-Page)

One way to determine if your IT budget is cost-effective is by calculating your organization’s true costs for printing. Do you know how much printing is costing your business? Knowing how to calculate your cost per page – and having a complete picture of all the true costs associated with print management – is the first step toward long-term efficiency.

Most companies do not track their printing costs. Whether you are a small company with a few printers or a corporation managing multiple offices, understanding your true costs for printing can take time and effort. Accurately calculating printing costs for an organization is a complex task because most office print environments contain many devices, print supplies, workflow strategies, and network security features.

How Much Does Printing Cost a Business?

According to a Gartner study, “Printer and Copier Fleets: The Goldmine in the Hallway,” a company’s print costs can eat up as much as 3% of its annual revenue. The average employee’s work-related printing habits cost about $725 a year (and that’s only for one employee). Statistics like this can help you get an idea of how much printing is costing your business.

Infographic stating that the average employee prints 10,000 pages per year, Infographic showing that 50% of IT help desk calls are related to printer issues

However, calculating a business’s exact office printing costs is a bit more complicated. Two main factors contribute to the final print cost: the total price of your equipment (often leased for three to five years) and your cost per page, which is influenced by many factors, like the volume of black-and-white pages vs. color pages. Then, there are additional hidden costs in printing operations, like the costs of paying employees or a managed print service (MPS) to manage printing workflows, maintain printers, and repair them when needed.

Take control of your printing costs with Managed Print Services from ImageOne.

Understanding Your True Costs for Printing

The main components contributing to printing costs include printers (purchase or lease), paper, ink/toner, and printing software. Beyond the price of the hardware, software, and materials used for printing, it’s critical to consider the cost of paying workers for regular maintenance and repairs.

Here are some rough estimates of the typical costs for printing:

Printing Components Cost Estimate
Paper Reams $5–$17+ each
Ink and Toner Cartridges $100-$200+ each
Printer (Purchase) $100-$15,000+ each
Printer (Leasing) $50-$600+ per month
Help Desk Time Spent on Printer Troubleshooting $343,200 or more annually

According to a survey by Gartner, 50% of IT help desk calls are printer-related. Employees may spend time dealing with finicky old printers, costing the company even more money. There is also the time spent ordering new supplies and updating hardware and software if you haven’t yet automated those processes. As you can see, these factors make measuring your business’s true printing costs difficult without a managed print service.

How Much Does Printing Ink Cost?

The cost of printing ink depends on your printer type, the kind of ink you use, and the amount of ink you use. Generally, businesses spend around $120 per year on black ink and $150 on color ink per printer. Printing in black and white is typically more cost-effective, but those numbers are averages. If your company is larger or you have higher print needs, you can expect to spend more on ink each year.

How Many Pages Can an Ink Cartridge Print?

How many pages can you print with one ink cartridge or toner cartridge? It varies by cartridge size, manufacturer, and the page coverage of your print documents. On average, a standard ink cartridge for a desktop printer will print around 250 pages. Check the cartridge’s packaging or the manufacturer’s website for specific yield-per-cartridge figures. There will be different numbers for black-and-white and color printing.

How Much Does Printing Paper Cost?

One ream of printing paper contains 500 pages. The price of paper decreases when you order reams in bulk. You can often order standard printing paper in bulk for about $5 per ream. The price of a ream of paper, however, varies depending on the paper type. Specialty papers for special uses or qualities can be more expensive. Costs of non-standard printing paper vary by the size, weight, finish, and volume purchased.

Here are some ballpark estimates for typical printing paper prices:

  • Standard paper: $3-$8 per ream
  • Cardstock/glossy paper: $10-$20 per ream, depending on the quality and finish
  • Inkjet paper: $5-$20 per ream, depending on weight and quality
  • Laser paper: $5-$15 per ream, depending on weight and brightness
  • Photo paper: $10-$50 per ream, depending on finish and quality

So how much is printer paper per page? To calculate the price of your paper per print, take the total price for the ream and divide it by 500. For example, in a $5 ream, a single page costs one cent.

How Much Do Printers Cost?

The range of printer costs is wide. The average cost of a printer for a small business or office with minimal printing needs starts at $50 to $200. Large printers and copiers, such as those found in schools and corporate offices, can cost up to $15,000. Due to this high cost, many businesses lease printers for a monthly fee. It’s helpful to know that printer leases often include in the cost of the lease maintenance agreements that cover most maintenance expenses.

A large stack of printed documents in an office setting, emphasizing the high volume of paper usage and printing in business environments

Calculating Your Basic Printing Cost Per Page

While we know other factors affect the total cost of printing, a formula can be used to roughly determine the average cost per page. As described in the previous section, start by calculating the page yield per cartridge and the price of print paper. Then, use the formula to calculate your simple cost per page…

Printing Cost Per Page Formula

(Cartridge price / page yield) + paper cost = cost per page

Divide page yield per cartridge by the cost of one cartridge. This formula will give you the answer to the question of how much ink costs per page. Then, add that to the price of a single sheet of printer paper to get your average cost per printed page.

Example: How Much Does It Cost To Print 100 Pages?

Let’s consider a hypothetical example. Say your company spent $50 on a black-and-white ink cartridge with a 300-page yield. You use standard printing paper that costs $0.01 per page.

$50 / 300 + $0.01 = $0.18 per page

In this example, the cost of ink per page printed is $0.17, and the cost of paper per page is $0.01. That makes the total cost for printing per page $0.18.

$0.18 per page x 100 pages = $18

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? However, printing costs can add up quickly—this doesn’t include other expenses like monthly printer leasing and maintenance. Printing costs can vary in many ways.

Let’s explore the reasons why this happens.

How Do Costs Per Page Vary?

Other considerations affect the printing cost per page and the hidden costs. Because there are so many variables, MPS experts use innovative tracking technology on printers to determine the cost of printing per page on different types of printers and paper. We also monitor the human element to uncover how to leverage technology and management techniques to improve printing efficiency.

Let’s explore some of the variables that affect printing cost per page.

Black and White vs. Color Printing

How much does it cost to print in color versus black and white? Black and white printing costs per page are cheaper than color printing because black ink is cheaper than color ink. However, remember that the factors that affect cost per page are interdependent. The type of printer you are using – and the ink volume on the page – also influence the color print cost per page.

  • Average printing cost per page black and white: 3-7 cents
  • Average color printing cost per page: 10-15 cents

InkJet vs. Laser Printers

If you are deciding what type of printer to purchase or lease for your business, consider how much it costs to print a page on an inkjet vs a laser printer. In general, inkjet printers have a higher cost per page than laser printers because the average page yield of ink cartridges is lower than that of toner cartridges.

  • Average inkjet printer cost-per-page: $0.07 to $0.20
  • Average laser printer cost-per-page: $0.15 to $0.05

Desktop vs. Industrial Printers

Does your fleet include desktop printers, copiers, and scanners in addition to the industrial-size ones (on every floor)? While it’s tempting to see these more affordable and portable machines as sensible printing options, their low purchasing costs often come at the expense of a higher maintenance cost. Desktop printers are less efficient and use more costly ink than office printers. Even if it feels cheaper at the start, you usually pay more long-term for desktop printing.

Print eating up your IT budget? Here are six easy ways to reduce your printing costs.

Mix-and-Matched Fleet

Did you purchase your printer fleet all at once (ensuring cohesion between devices?) Or do you have a Frankensteined-together hodgepodge of new and old hardware? If you acquired the machines in your print fleet at different times, keeping track of the terms of your various equipment leases can get complicated. Leases may have varying term lengths and interest rates, meaning different machines may cost you wildly different monthly amounts. You’ll have to sift through a mountain of paperwork to determine what each costs.

Age of Printing Equipment

If you purchase rather than lease a printer, plan to budget for additional repair costs as they age and for their eventual replacement. On average, printers last about seven years, and their lifespans can be impacted by:

  • Frequency and volume of use
  • Expertise of the users
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Firmware and software updates

Type of Paper Used

Premium and specialty printing paper, such as card stock or colored paper, can cost up to ten times as much as standard printing paper. To calculate the cost of other types of printer paper, use the same formula we used to calculate the cost of standard paper: Divide the price of the premium printer paper ream by the total number of pages in the ream.

Employee Habits and Misprints

The average employee prints 10,000 pages per year. A single misprint thrown in the trash, an extra piece of paper included in the print job, or toner thrown out too soon can feel like small potatoes. But these “little wastes” can quickly snowball into unnecessary print costs.

Implementing a pull-print system like PaperCut or PrinterLogic or establishing rules to limit unnecessary printing can help make employee habits more budget-friendly. Learn more about Papercut and other print cost reduction software to find ways to optimize your printing costs based on real-time data from your office printers and employee behaviors.

Streamline Printing Costs with Managed Print Services

How much more efficient could your organization be if you optimized the use of printer paper and ink in the office? Imagine the benefits of reducing the number of printer-related IT help desk calls you handle each week. Download our guide on reducing print costs to discover practical tips for achieving both short-term and long-term savings.

A managed print service (MPS) like imageOne can increase efficiency and reduce operating costs by up to 30%.

  • Reduce hardware costs by 25% to 60%
  • Lower energy consumption by 30%
  • Decrease toner consumption by 20%
  • Cut wasted output by 10% to 15%

We start with an in-depth analysis of your current print process and printing needs. We evaluate the number and size of devices, paper volumes, workspace conditions, the age of print devices, and more. This process takes approximately two months and includes visits to all the locations where you’re using printers. From there, we’ll create a report and present our new plan to deliver exceptional results – optimizing your space, making print more cost-effective, and helping you run a more time-efficient business.

Want help? Schedule a discovery call to talk to a managed print expert today.