How Does Color Coverage Get Calculated by Copier Companies?

When people look at a copier contract for the first time, they think they understand what color coverage is, how coverage gets calculated, and how much they can impact their monthly costs.

Color coverage is the percentage of color that gets covered in color during a print. However, the conversation gets strange when we talk about the maximum color coverage percentage on a page.

How Color Coverage Gets Calculated for Copiers

The maximum color isn’t 100%; it’s closer to 380%.

How is this possible? There are four cartridges, each with its own color (cyan, yellow, magenta, and black.) Each cartridge can individually cover 95% of the page. So if you have a page that you printed in all black, the color coverage would be 95%.

However, if you print out an orange page, the color coverage comes out to 160%. By mixing two colors (in this case magenta and yellow), each color cartridge will use 80% color coverage to mix the colors and make an orange page.

Why Does Color Coverage Matter to Your Wallet?

Most copier reps put a provision in your contract stating that you only have 20% color coverage before you get charged an overage fee. Keep in mind that this percentage doesn’t mean 20% of the page is covered; it means that the copier used 5% of each color to cover the page.

The Four Actions You Can Take to Keep From Paying Color Overage Fees Every Month

There are four steps you can take to stop overpaying every month in color coverage fees. Here are those steps:

  1. If your copier contract has a provision limiting you to 20% color coverage, see if you can take it out of your contract. If this isn’t possible, make sure your historical average stays below 20% color coverage every month.
  2. Compile some print files your copier rep can run on the copier model you’re looking to lease or buy, and run an analytics tool on that page. Only when you do this can you tell the real color coverage being used on a page being printed by that copier.
  3. If you have printing machines with no color coverage restrictions, use them to run all of your color prints. Run all of your low coverage prints on your less expensive machines.
  4. If you run tabloid sheets, realize they are twice as large as your regular letter prints and will, therefore, use twice the toner. If you don’t want to get charged double for your tabloid copies, keep the color coverage at 10% at the most.

Now you understand how copier companies calculate color coverage. Use this knowledge and the steps above, and you’ll save thousands of dollars over the life of your copier lease.