Printing problems in the form of bad print quality is not always easy to fix. To help you, we have below listed solutions to many of the most common print quality problems.

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Print Quality and Printing Problems Guide

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This article is part of the Printer and Printing Troubleshooting Guide.

This article deals with print quality problems.

Important
What kind of printer problem are you currently having? If your paper feeding mechanism is not working (i.e. no paper is coming out when trying to print), skip this article and go directly to our printer problems article instead.

Please note that this article only deals with printing problems that are applicable to printers in general. If you have a problem that is very specific to your printer model we suggest you to continue reading printer repair article!

Before reading the troubleshooting guide:
1. Restart your printer. This resets the printer software which might solve your problem
2. Print a test page
3. Can't find your printer manual? Do a printer manual search!

Printing Problems Questions


» Are strange characters or badly formatted text being printed out?
» Is part of the printed characters missing or have incorrect colors?
» Is a object printed several times? (a condition often called Ghosting)
» Is the text faded or fuzzy?
» Is the printout smeared?
» Does your printout contain horizontal lines or white spots?
» Are vertical lines misaligned or do you see light/dark horizontal banding?
» Are your printouts missing colors, lack shadows or contrast?
» Are your printouts blurry?
» Are your printouts grainy/pixelated?
» Are printouts loosing colors, sharpness etc fast?
» If nothing helped so far, get help from others!

Are strange characters or badly formatted text being printed out?

You printing problems might be related to your printer driver. You can read more about what a printer driver is and also find a link on where to download a new version of your printer driver by going to our printer driver page.

Is part of the printed characters missing or have incorrect colors?

The ink cartridge or printhead nozzles might be clogged or the printer cartridge may be running out of ink or toner.

Most printers have a cleaning program for the printheads, if you are not sure on how to start the program read our printhead cleaner article or check your printer manual for instructions.Run the cleaning program and check if the print quality has been improved. (inkjet printers)

Printers normally indicate if they are running low on ink or toner by a blinking or non green lit indicator lamp. You can always check this manually by opening up your printer and taking out the cartridge color that you have problems with. The ink level in an ink cartridge is normally easy to see while the toner level might be harder to spot. Try shaking your toner cartridge and put it back into the printer to see if the print quality has been improved.
(inkjet and laser printers)

Is a object printed several times?

Is a printed object printed several times where the "ghosted" object appears as a light/dark area relative to the printed object? This error often occurs while printing a larger 100% black area followed by a gray scale pattern. Several fixes might be applicable to the problem (only for Laser Printers):

1. Do you have a high humidity and a low temperature in the room where the printer is placed? This kind of environment might cause the ghosting problem.

2. How much pages have you printed with your printer parts? It might be that parts such as the imaging kit or drum are near the end of their life. Check your documentation (the printer or the parts) to what number of pages these parts are rated to print. You need to change parts if their life cycle is over.

3. You might have a toner build up on the fuser rollers. Some printers have the possibility to print a cleaning cycle, test this and try printing your document again. If you don’t have this function on your printer, you might need to replace the fuser assembly in your printer.
 

Is the text faded or fuzzy?

One or more of the ink or toner cartridges are probably almost empty. Refer to the question above for instructions on how to check the levels on your cartridges.
(inkjet and laser printers).

Other reasons might be that the print density is set to low or that you set the printer into Eco-mode. Change these setting by setting print density to high and Eco-mode to off. (inkjet and laser printers)

Is the printout smeared?

This might be due to several printing problems.

1. Check that the paper setting for the printer matches the quality of the paper in the printer. As an example, high gloss paper printer settings should not be mixed with plain paper. (inkjet and laser printers)

2. Your printhead might need to be cleaned or aligned. Read our instructions on how run the printhead cleaner program or check your printer manual for instructions. Run the cleaning program and check if the print quality has been improved. (inkjet printers)

3. The fuser assembly in your laser printer might be broken or dirty and need an replacement. (laser printers)

4. Your toner cartridge might cause the error by letting out to much toner one time, the applicable color cartridge needs to be replaced if this is the case. (laser printers)

5. Do you have a toner spill in your printer? Open the access doors on the printer and clean out any spill that you can find.

Does your printout contain horizontal lines or white spots?

This print quality problem indicates that a printhead nozzle is clogged, this is especially true if your printer has been inactive for some time.

Most printers have a cleaning program for the printheads, if you are not sure on how to start the program read our printhead cleaner article or check your printer manual for instructions.

Run the cleaning program and check if the print quality has been improved. Please note that you might need to run the cleaning program several times to get best possible result. (inkjet printers)

Are vertical lines misaligned or do you see light/dark horizontal banding?

This print quality problem probably indicates that a printhead is out of alignment.

Your printer most likely has a printhead alignment program that will correct this problem. If you are not sure on how to start the program please check your printer manual for instructions. (inkjet printers)

Are your printouts missing colors, lack shadows or contrast?

1. Printers normally indicate if they are running low on ink by a blinking or non lit green indicator lamp. You can always check this manually by opening up your printer and taking out the cartridge color that you have a problem with. The ink level in an ink cartridge is normally easy to see while the toner level might be harder to spot. (inkjet and laser printers)

2. Your ink could be old if they have been in the printer for a long time. Try replacing the color cartridge that you have a problem with. (inkjet printers)

3. Are your color cartridges in the right place? Make sure you have not loaded a black cartridge in the slot where the cyan cartridge should go and so forth… (inkjet and laser printers)

4. You could have a clogged nozzle in one of the printheads. Read our article on how to run the printhead cleaner program or check your printer manual for instructions. (inkjet printers). After the cleaning program is finished, try printing again to see if the print quality has improved.

5. If your printout don’t have any contrast or shadows at all, your black cartridge probably needs to be replaced. (inkjet and laser printers)

Are your printouts blurry?

This print quality problem may be a paper problem more than an ink or toner problem.

1. Check that your paper is not damp. (inkjet and laser printers)

2. Is your paper loaded correctly into the paper tray? Most papers are designed to be printed on one side which usually means the shinier side of the paper. (inkjet and laser printers)

3. Is the paper setting correct for the quality of your paper? As an example, high gloss paper printer settings should not be mixed with plain paper. (inkjet and laser printers)

Are your printouts grainy/pixelated?

1. Start by cleaning and aligning your printhead in the printer. Most printers have a cleaning and aligning program, if you are not sure on how to start the program please check your printer manual for instructions.

2. Your print resolution setting might be set to low. Resolution for a printer is measured in DPI which stands for Dot Per Inches. If this setting is set to low, your printouts may look grainy or pixelated. Try resolve this by setting your printer to print at a higher print quality setting. Please note that printing at too high resolutions are not good since this will drain your cartridges and also lead to longer printing times. 

3. What type of paper are you using? If you are using plain paper, try exchanging it to a paper type of higher quality or the paper type recommended by the printer manufacturer.

4. Are you trying to print a picture? The picture resolution (not measured in DPI but in PPI-Pixels Per Inch) might be too low in relation to your printer print quality setting. This leads to a bad print quality where pixels becomes clearly visible. Try resolve this by printing at a lower print quality setting or by getting a picture with a higher resolution. Go to this page to find a quality mapping table between pictures and printed images.

Are printouts loosing colors, sharpness etc fast?

Read our article on printing quality.

If nothing helped so far, get help from others!

Continue reading our printer and printing troubleshooting article to learn how to get help from others.

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