Have you ever wondered how much of ink  your cartridges use in order to print a document, graphic presentation, or image?

The consumption of inc is predicted by the coverage of the document, which represents the amount of filled space on the A4 printout. In Europe, it is determined by the ISO classification and is measured in 5% of the A4 sheet coverage.

What is the coverage of printed materials?

ISO classification indicates how many pages can be printed with a cartridge before it needs to be replaced. This takes into account A4 paper format, which has 5% coverage with printing. When we buy a cartridge, the classification states how many pages we can print with it.

How can we imagine 5% coverage?

The A4 format is divided into 100 rectangles of the same dimensions. 5% coverage means that it actually covers only 5 black rectangles per 100 rectangles. See the display here.

When printing in black and white, the coverage is determined by the printed area with black ink on A4 format.

Classification hazard: by color printing it gets complicated

5% coverage represents the unification of the standard and applies to all manufacturers equally. The standard provides for constant coverage, which is easily determined with black-and-white printouts.

Color printing is measured slightly differently and varies according to the desired color and shades. In color printing, the coverage changes all the time as we print diverse content with different text and image coverage. These require different resolutions: from black text lines, to graphic and image color saturation. According to the ISO standard, we therefore assume that we use 5% of the cartridge for one black and white printout. While we use three times the amount of ink for a color printout. 

All shades come in three basic colors: blue, purple and yellow

Coverage with color cartridges is determined with the CMYK color model. CMYK contains four basic color elements: primary colors cyan (blue), magento (purple), and yellow (yellow). The last letter, K, represents black. K stands for key, as black dictates the expression of other colors.

When printing with an inkjet printer, we need a set of two cartridges for color printing: a black-and-white cartridge and a color cartridge. The color cartridge contains three compartments within a single compartment: a blue compartment, a purple compartment and a yellow compartment. When printing, color combines a basic black cartridge that contains only one compartment.

The disadvantage of inkjet printing is the risk of uneven color depletion in the color cartridge. In the occurance when one color compartments runs out of ink, the entire color cartridge must be replaced, regardless of the exhaustion of the other two compartments.

Coverage according to the mixing of primary colors

Different combinations of primary colors need to be used to express different colors on paper. By mixing the primary colors (blue, purple, and yellow), we print the secondary colors (orange, green, and purple). By mixing primary and secondary colors, we print tertiary colors.

This means that print coverage is always determined by consuming a combination of colors from the three compartments in the color cartridge.

Example: print colored lines of purple and yellow on A4 format. Coverage in this case is measured by the consumption of purple and by the consumption of yellow. Printing 5% purple and printing 5% yellow on A4 format. Because the colors are printed separately, in this case we achieve 10% coverage on A4 format.

Conversely, the determination of the coverage of secondary and tertiary colors works differently. In case we want to print green, we need a combination of blue and yellow ink in the same place of A4 format. In this case, we use blue (cyan) and yellow (yellow) on the same surface. Because the two colors are fused in the same place, we achieve 5% coverage relative to the paper.

Average print user with coverage between 7% and 10%

The ISO standard provides for universal coverage of A4 format. This means that if the A4 format had a coverage of 50%, the same coverage would be expressed with 100% on the A5 format and with 25% coverage on the A3 format.

The ISO standard dictates that all manufacturers standardize the measurement of print capacity measurements to 5% A4 paper coverage. The average user prints with coverage between 7% and 10%.

Interestingly, Optiprint users print with a higher average coverage percentage, as the innovations of the endless color cartridge offers them more freedom to print.

Color printing coverage

In practice, print coverage is measured by the ink consumption in the cartridge. Which means the same amount of ink offers the same coverage regardless of color.


  • 1 gram of black ink creates 50 black and white A4 prints – printout with 5% coverage
  • 1 gram cyan, 1 gram magenta and 1 gram yellow create 50 color A4 prints – printout with 5% coverage

Supposing that user prints in color and A4 format achieves 10% coverage. This means that the color cartridge exceeds 5% coverage due to color (ink) mixing from all three color compartments when combinations are created. Thus, in reality, the color printout consumes three times more consumables from the CMY color model.

Demonstrating the cost freedom of printing in practice – an easy calculation

Suppose a CMYK kit costs € 160.00 (black cartridge and color cartridge with three color ink compartments).

  • The black cartridge generates 4000 back-white prints at 5% coverage
  • The color cartridge generates 2000 color prints (each of the three color compartments separately), putting a total of 6000 prints at 5% coverage.

The total printing capacity is 10,000 prints with 5% coverage. However, due to color mixing and increased consumption of CMY consumables with limited capacity (when one toner compartment is emptied, the entire color cartridge needs to be replaced), the user actually prints only 4,000 black and white prints and 2,000 color prints, for a total of 6,000 prints. At 5% coverage.

At 5% coverage with a set of cartridges, the user prints:

  • 4000 black and white prints
  • 2000 color prints

The value of a black-and-white printout therefore costs € 0.01, and the value of a color printout costs € 0.06.

CMYK set = € 160.00, black = 4000 prints, color = 2000 prints each, total = 10000 prints. € 0.016 per printout = € 0.01 black and white printout, € 0.06 color printout (total 6000 printouts, 4000 black and white and 2000 color printouts).

So, a black and white printout costs € 0.01 and a color printout costs € 0.06, with 5% coverage.

With a coverage of 10%, the price per printout is 2x higher, ie € 0.02 for a black-and-white printout and € 0.12 for a color printout.

The determination of the price per printout is therefore determined by two indicators:

  • Black and white or color printing
  • Print coverage

Optiprint Infinite Color Cartridge – 4000 prints means 4000 prints, regardless of color and coverage

Optiprint’s worry-free printing service eliminates the importance of both indicators that affect the pricing of printing. The service equates the price of black and white prints with color prints, regardless of the percentage of A4 format coverage.

In Optiprint’s ISO service, the 5% coverage standard is not considered. For example, when renting a rental package with 4000 prints, users print 4000 prints, even if it the print covers 100% coverage (for example, printing images). The price of the printout remains unchanged and does not multiply according to the coverage. At the same time, users print in color for the price of a black-and-white print, despite the fact that the color print consumes three times more CMY consumables.

Free choice with a complete carefulness of printing

Optiprint’s comprehensive print management offers all-in-one. In addition to equating the price of black and white prints with color, regardless of coverage, everything is included in the printer rental for the user’s carefree experience. Optiprint’s printer rental service includes all the hardware with an infinite color cartridge and the software. At the same time, the service includes free printer installation, all system updates, full hardware and software maintenance, technical support, all printer repairs, and all printer spare parts.

So, Optiprint really offers everything in one! At the same time, it ensures optimal cost efficiency and complete freedom of printing.

Free non-binding trial: give us a try! 

Because we believe in Optiprint’s sophisticated carefree color printing service with complete freedom of printing and optimal cost-effectiveness, we offer you a non-binding and free printer test. We operate in six European countries. You can submit your test application by clicking on the web site of preferred country and click the button for free trial. Example: the link here.

We look forward to get in touch with you and wish you plenty of enjoyment with your carefree color printing!