The type and quality of paper and ink used can affect the life of the printer. Many types of printer paper are available, including inkjet and laser. The printer manufacturer might recommend which type of paper to use for best results. Some papers, especially photo paper, transparencies, and multilayered carbon paper, have a right and wrong side. Load the paper according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The manufacturer recommends the brand and type of ink to use. If the wrong type of ink is installed, the printer might not work or the print quality might deteriorate. Avoid refilling ink cartridges because the ink can leak.

When an inkjet printer produces blank pages, the ink cartridges might be empty. Some inkjet printers may refuse to print any pages if one of the ink cartridges is empty. Laser printers do not produce blank pages. Instead, they begin to print poor quality prints. Most inkjet printers have a utility that shows ink levels in each cartridge, as shown in the figure. Some printers have LCD message screens or LED lights that warn users when ink supplies are low.

A method for checking ink levels is to look at the page counter inside the printer or the printer software to determine how many pages have been printed. Then look at the cartridge label information. The label should show how many pages the cartridge can print. You can then easily estimate how many more pages you can print. To help keep track of usage, each time you replace the cartridge, reset the counter. In addition, some printouts use more ink than others do. For example, a letter uses less ink than a photograph.

You can set the printer software to toner save or draft quality to reduce the amount of ink or toner that the printer uses. These settings also reduce the print quality of laser and inkjet products, as well as the time it takes to print a document on an inkjet printer.

An impact printer is similar to a typewriter because the print head strikes an inked ribbon to transfer ink to the printout. When the impact printer produces faded or light characters, the ribbon is worn out and needs to be replaced. If a consistent flaw is produced in all characters, the print head is stuck or broken and needs to be replaced.