Understand the Components That Determine Your Printing Costs

By: Marco
August 4, 2022

When you’re shopping for an office printer, in addition to its sticker price, you probably already consider the cost of inks and toners. But even if you do, the cheapest printer that uses the cheapest supplies may still cost you much more in the long run. Printers are complicated machines, and they’re a significant investment. So if you need to purchase one soon, it’s worth doing a little extra math.

Let’s explore the many components that will reveal a more accurate picture of your long-term printing expenses, including your cost per print.

Hard Costs

The hard costs associated with printing include equipment, supplies, and service. These are typically the only costs businesses use in analyzing their investment. Although important, they are just the first step in determining your long-term costs.


This simply is the cost of the equipment you acquired. Whether you purchased, leased, or agreed to a cost-per-page contract, equipment costs need to be considered in your total investment calculation.

By the way, if you’re looking to save money on equipment, there may be a better way than buying a cheaper machine. For example, many print providers have formed strategic partnerships with printer manufacturers and can get you a great deal.

Here’s the Math for Equipment:

If you buy a new printer, you can find its monthly cost by dividing the total cost by the number of months you can expect it to last.

If you lease your equipment, your accounting department should be able to provide you with a total of your monthly printing equipment expenses.

Printer Paper and Other Supply Costs

Supplies include toner, developer, paper, other print media, staples, and more. While 90% of companies fail to track their printing costs, these ongoing expenses can really add up. However, with careful monitoring, Gartner has found that most companies could reduce printing expenses by 10 – 30%.

As you are collecting this information, be sure you address all purchasing options your business may be using, even if you use a print provider. Make sure your staff isn’t purchasing additional supplies that aren’t factored into your print costs. Finally, remember to address inventory volume; many businesses often find excess inventory scattered throughout their offices.

That’s unfortunate because toner and ink cartridges don’t last forever. They have an expiration date and need to be stored properly. Improper storage of these supplies can lead to a lot of waste.

While it’s always tempting to save money, there are better ways than simply buying low-quality products. For example, many offices try to save money with cheaper paper, but over time, low-quality paper can damage your printer or lead to unsatisfactory results.

A much better way to save on printing supplies is to reduce unnecessary printing. After all, 45 percent of all paper printed in offices ends up trashed the same day. Today, there are excellent software solutions that can reduce unnecessary printing while boosting security.

So…you’ve considered the costs of toner and ink cartridges, and you’ve figured out how you might reduce unnecessary printing and waste. Is that all? Unfortunately, it’s not. Some toner and ink cartridges are more expensive because they have a higher page yield. Every replacement cartridge comes with a projected page yield rating, and it’s typically printed right on the package.

And that means it’s time for more math!

How Much Does Printer Paper Really Cost Per Page?

To calculate the cost of each sheet of paper, divide the cost per reem by the number of sheets included.

Here’s the Math on Additional Supplies:

Your black cartridge price, divided by its page yield, plus the cost of each sheet of paper, is your cost per page of black and white material.

If you print many documents in color, you might also want to calculate those costs. Your black cartridge price, divided by its page yield, plus your color cartridge price, divided by its page yield, plus the cost of each sheet of paper, is your cost per page of color printed material.

If your printer also requires other supplies like staples, you can factor those in using the same calculation.

How many pages do you typically print per month? Printing software can track that for you. However, you can also determine your number of pages per month by finding your total page count (your manufacturer should have instructions on how to do this) and dividing it by the number of months it has been used.

Every organization has a different ratio of black and white versus color documents. Obviously, color documents are more expensive. Depending on your organization’s ratio, you may wish to factor that into your final math.

However, generally speaking, multiplying your cost per page by the number of pages you print a month will give you your projected monthly supply expenses for a printer.

Want to Cheat?

Generally speaking, more efficient, high-end machines will be more expensive, but they will have a lower cost per page. Just don’t cheat by looking at what other businesses around you are using. Every organization’s printing needs are unique, and the equipment that saves one a lot of money may run up quite the bill for another.


It is not uncommon for companies to have multiple devices, all of which have different vendor contracts, warranties, and service agreements. Organizing and determining which vendor services are attached to each machine and maintenance contract can be a daunting task. However, a printing assessment is a great way to get a better handle on all of the above.  

Consolidating vendors, equipment makes, models, and contracts can result in significant savings. In fact, Managed Print Service (MPS) providers can often save their clients up to 30%.

The Math

These costs can be harder to predict mathematically. However, if you invest in higher-end equipment and maintain it well, your repair costs will be lower over time.

Soft Costs

These are the most overlooked costs for many businesses, but they’re very important in determining an effective print management strategy. Two of the soft costs associated with printing are your employee burden rate and the life cycle of your printing equipment. Let’s look into these further.

Employee Burden Rate

Your IT manager, office administrator or key operator spends time every week keeping your printer fleet up and running. In fact, a study by Gartner estimates that as much as 50% of help desk calls are printer-related.

Beyond basic troubleshooting, unless you’re working with a managed print provider, your employees spend time purchasing supplies, troubleshooting, and trying to figure out who to call for service. The type of equipment, number of vendors, and variety of supply sources all add to the time required to take care of these tasks.

Time is money, so estimating the time spent doing these tasks is crucial in understanding your total cost of ownership.

Life Cycle of Equipment

The more you use your equipment, the more your equipment depreciates. If used improperly, it will depreciate even faster. In addition, technology is changing at an ever-increasing rate, continually decreasing the value of your equipment. Even if your old printer is still functioning, it may be costing you more in repairs and supplies than it’s worth, and even worse, it may pose a security risk.

One way to sidestep this unavoidable aging and devaluing of your equipment is to simply stop purchasing equipment. Leasing is an option that allows you to use the equipment until the efficiency declines, your business initiatives change, or a more effective technology becomes available.

Finding the Right MPS Provider

If you’re still self-maintaining your print environment, you’re probably missing out on some significant savings, as well as a lot of other benefits. Marco is an industry leader in managed print services, and we also can provide industry-specific expertise to support the unique needs of healthcare and legal organizations.

It’s a rare thing when a single solution can reduce workplace frustration as well as expenses. So, if you’re wondering if contracting with an MPS might be wise, our experts are happy to get to know your organization and spell out exactly what they can do for you.

Meet with a Marco Print Specialist Schedule Appointment

Topics: Managed Print Services