How does color coverage impact you and your bottom line? Even some copier reps don’t fully understand what coverage is, but they know how it affects monthly operating costs.

What Is Color Coverage?

Coverage is exactly what it sounds like: the percentage of the page that’s covered in color. How much coverage can be on a page is where the story takes a sharp left turn.

The maximum color coverage a page can have is not 100%; it’s 380%.

Why is this possible?

A color copier has four different toner cartridges: black, cyan, yellow, and magenta. Each of these colors can fill 95% of a page, as there is a small margin that the copier can’t reach.

If a copier prints out an all-black page, the color coverage would be 95%. However, if the page were orange, the color coverage would be roughly 160%. The reason is that there are now two cartridges being used to make that color: magenta and yellow. Each cartridge has its own coverage that would add to the total coverage on a page.

Why Is Color Coverage Important to Know?

Most copier contracts allow only for an average of 20% page coverage, which is low considering up to 380% color coverage is possible.

20% coverage does not mean that 20% of the page is covered in color; it only means that each color use about 5% coverage for each page you print.

With what we know with how coverage works, if you cover 20% of a page in color using a combination of color cartridges, technically, you could be using up to 80% combined color coverage.

How Do You Avoid Paying Large Overage Fees for Color Coverage?

There are four ways you can keep your color costs from getting out of control.

Remove the 20% Up Charge Provision From Your Contract.

If you see a provision in your contract where the copier company can charge you for overage if your coverage exceeds 20%, see if you can take it out.

If you can’t get the provision removed, be sure your historical average stays under 20% color and 5% black and white coverage.

Compile Print Files Your Rep Can Run On the Copier.

Eyeballing the amount of color coverage on a page is impossible. Get your rep to test your print using a proper analytics tool. If the rep tells you a coverage number from what they see with their naked eye, they’re scamming you (even if by accident.)

Keep High Coverage Prints On Machines with No Coverage Restrictions.

If you have machines that you were able to remove that overage provision for their contracts, run your high color coverage prints on those machines. If you have low coverage prints, run them through an inexpensive printer.

Beware Using Tabloid Sheets.

Tabloid sheets use twice as much toner because they are double the size of standard sheets. To stay underneath your 20% coverage using a tabloid sheet, you will only be able to cover 10% of the page.

Follow These Tips to Save Thousands of Dollars Over the Life of Your Printer.

Color coverage is but one of the many complicated aspects of buying and using a copier. What you don’t know in any one area could cost you an excess of thousands of dollars. Follow these steps above to keep as much money in your pocket as possible.