Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I regularly need to print a document that takes the top half of an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. I end up folding the page in half after it's printed so that I can store it easier.

It recently occurred to me that cutting the paper in half before the printing would let me save money on computer paper.

I'm going to be cutting the paper in half 'hamburger'-wise, not 'hotdog' style. See the following image: enter image description here

I've tested my HP laserjet and it takes the half sheets without issue.

What happens to the extra toner, though, if a page gets printed that has a full page of text while the printer is still loaded with these half-sheets?

Does the toner disperse in the printer? Does it get reclaimed? Is this harmful or safe?

share|improve this question
I think this depends on what specifically the printer is, what size it actually thinks those half-pages are, and what sort of safeguards against this the printer has. I can tell you that if your particular printer is attempting to print to nonexistent paper, eventually you'll have a mess. – Shinrai Dec 14 '11 at 16:20
You should be able to specify a user supplied page size in the printing dialogue. Just set it to 8 1/2 by 5 1/2. – Dennis Dec 14 '11 at 16:25
@Dennis: Please put that as an answer. – RedGrittyBrick Dec 14 '11 at 17:41
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Ideally, the majority of the unused toner is recycled back into the cartridge. Most cartridges, however have a page-counter that will tell you the cartridge is low/empty after X pages... rather than have any kind of sensor telling if it's actually empty/full. So.... if a cartridge says it'l print 1000 copies... 1000-blank pages = assumed empty. Sometimes they have some heuristics that try & guess the amount of page-coverage and do a better job of estimating the actual full-empty status...

Alternatively... you frequently can do page-scaling on HP printers and set it to fit 2-per-page instead of printing on 1/2 of a page and cutting it in half/throwing the half away...

share|improve this answer
In every printer I opened, toner left on the optical drum after a page cycle goes to the wasted toner reservoir and is not recycled. – Axeman Dec 14 '11 at 16:45
Typically unused toner... doesn't go into the reservoir... only toner that failed to stick to the page... that did stick to the charge roller. I consider that "used toner". But yes, you're correct that a portion of the toner does get "thrown-away". – TheCompWiz Dec 14 '11 at 16:47
If the printer does not actively monitor sheet lenght during the entire page cycle, all the toner that falls in an area that is "out of the sheet" stays on the drum (because there's no sheet that can "capture" it), is then caught by the toner wiper blade and goes straight to the waste (or used) reservoir. I've repaired many laser printer and every one of them worked this way. (Moreover, waste reservoir level is almost always extimated by the number of printed pages regardless of size and coverage. Cutting the sheet could make thing worse) – Axeman Dec 14 '11 at 16:59
@Axeman you have a few flaws: Charged particles only stick to the charged part of the drum. All laser printers track the sheet-length. (that's what the little paper sensor flags are for) – TheCompWiz Dec 14 '11 at 17:07
I can't speak for every printer, and I'm not a printer tecnician, but I can speak for my own printers: an old HP LJ3, a 5 years ago xerox phaser and a recent Samsung CLX: I've seen on the metal what happens when printer loads a sheet shorter than the selected format: a paper jam indication, and the toner image of bottom page data left on the drum (ready to be scraped by the blade). The OP must set the printer driver to the "cut" format to have everything work flawless. – Axeman Dec 14 '11 at 17:21

You should be able to specify a user supplied page size in the printing dialogue.

Just set it to 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 and you won't have to worry about extra toner.

share|improve this answer
Posted as answer per request by @RedGrittyBrick. – Dennis Dec 14 '11 at 17:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .