Trobleshooting Printing Fidelity Problems

It's not uncommon to have a print-out from your printer not matching what do you see on screen. Printing is a quite complicated process with multiple players involved. So it's not an easy job to figure out who is at fault, either to find a workaround or to get the problem really resolved.

By fidelity here, we mean:

  • Exact correspondence with fact or with a given quality, condition, or event; accuracy.
  • The degree to which an electronic system accurately reproduces the sound or image of its input signal.

Here are the list of players in the whole printing process:

  1. Operating system: font installation, available resource
  2. Spooler: spooler setting, printer driver setting
  3. Application: application can use different or the wrong GDI calls for printing.
  4. Printer driver: printer driver may generate the wrong commands for printer.
  5. Cable: connection may be bad
  6. Printer firmware: they could be buggy or have limitation too.
  7. Ink: low ink

Here are some tips:

  1. Try another printer. The easily way to troubleshot the problem is try to isolate the printer driver/printer by printing to another printer, this can be a real printer or a paper-less printer. For paper-less printer, you can use the following options:
    • Microsoft Office Document Writer, generating MDI files which can be viewed on screen.
    • Microsoft XPS Document Writer, generating XPS files which can be viewed on screen.
    • HP Deskjet Printer from HP website which has the best preview feature on the driver side. Enable the previewer, print to it, zoom-in/zoom-out to analyze the data, and then just cancel the job.
    • Any Postscript printer, using GhostScript/GhostView to view the output on screen.
    • Any printer driver which supports EMF spooling, then use emf.exe (from ) to display it.
  2. Scale down the document. If printer/printer driver is not the issue, then try to scale down the document before you go deeper. Try to remove as many unrelated objects from your document while the problem is still reproducible. You may need to save multiple copies of tempoary files during that process. You may also find that there are multiple problems in the same document which better be split into multiple problems.

- to be continued