A print cartridge comes with a count of how many pages it can print. I know the industry standard is to derive that page count from "5% coverage" of a letter-sized page.

My question is, if I have four colors, how many pages is that?

I have a laser printer that takes C, Y, M, and K in separate cartridges. Each one says "8000 pages". Does that mean I have 32,000 pages at 5% coverage?

Secondly, what if I'm printing nothing but full-page photos? Obviously, the "coverage" required by a photo will VARY WIDELY; one might be almost entirely white. But is there an INDUSTRY STANDARD AVERAGE for what percent coverage is required to print a full-page photo?

  • I would expect that any random image where the printer preferences is not explicity set to black and white (not grayscale) would have roughly equal proportions of most of the 4 colors (+/- 15%), so no, I doubt (4 colors x 8000) is the best figure. – horatio Apr 19 '11 at 19:24


It depends what you are printing. If you are printing in black then you will get approximately 8,000 pages at 5% coverage from the black cartridge. After that some printers may mix the other three colours to try and replicate black, so you may get up to 16,000 pages if you are lucky. Others will just stop when the black runs out.


I am not aware of any industry standard average for photo printing PPC because, as you say, they vary so wildly. The 5% from text is an average page of words - no matter what you write it will be around 5%. Photos vary too wildly from page to page to be able to give an accurate figure.

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