How to Calibrate Your Inkjet Printer

Calibration refers to the proper alignment of the inkjet cartridge nozzles to both the paper and each other; without a properly calibrated printer, your print quality degrades over time. This is usually the problem when folks complain that lines appear fuzzy in artwork or when colored areas in printed images start or stop before they should.

If you hear a professional photographer or graphic artist talk about color calibration, that’s something completely different; color calibration is the process of color matching between the colors that appear on your monitor and the colors produced by your printer.

Most users never need that level of precise color, and most inkjet printers now allow you to make changes to the hue and saturation of your prints by simply dragging a slider in the program installed by the manufacturer. But if you need to perform a full color calibration, check your printer’s manual for more information about using Windows color profiles.

Your printer probably automatically calibrates itself when you first load a new cartridge, so you should calibrate either three months after installing a new cartridge or when you notice that your print quality is suffering — whichever comes first. (Of course, the period varies according to how often you use your printer and the length of your average printed document.)

Each brand (and sometimes each model) of printer has different onscreen controls for calibrating output, but you should be able to access them from the software you installed when you set up your printer. Check your printer manual for the location of the calibration controls (probably within a separate application that you can run to display your printer’s maintenance toolbox).

Follow the onscreen directions for your specific printer, and have a couple of pieces of plain paper handy.

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