A Printer That Does Not Print Text

By Elizabeth Mott

If technology problems responded to threats, printers would live in fear.
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Your office printer's gone nonverbal, or so it seems. You're desperately trying to print sales reports or a client proposal, and except for your graphics, every page comes out blank -- or all of your body copy disappears. You've removed and reinserted paper, shut off the printer and restarted it, closed your document and reopened it, all to no avail. Before you shake your fist at the foibles of Murphy's Law, look for printing problems that involve neither fate nor bad luck.

Insufficient Ink/Toner

Look closely at your text-less printouts. If the only part you're missing consists of text that prints in black, your printer may have run out of black ink or toner. When you examine the page under a magnifying glass, you may find traces of cyan, magenta or yellow ink where the text should print in a rich black, a color made up of all four inks. Check your consumables for signs that they've run low enough to cause problems without running low enough to trigger error messages or stop the printing process altogether.

Corrupt Font Files

When you examine the document you're printing, look for signs that all the unprinted text uses the same typeface. If you've recently added new font software to your operating system or you've experienced problems related to font software, try switching the problem text to another typeface. If that solves your problem, you'll need to obtain a fresh, uncorrupted copy of the typeface files, remove the old ones and reinstall them.

Corrupt Document

In the case of a document that's all text, none of which prints, your file itself may be corrupt. You can try different approaches to resolving document corruption, including recreating the file, copying its contents to the clipboard and pasting them into a new document, restoring a previous version from a backup, or checking for a copy you emailed to someone else. If you've been editing the file and haven't saved your changes, you may have introduced the problem while you've been working, especially if your electrical power fluctuated, causing your computer to misbehave.

Corrupt Printer Driver

The software that serves as an intermediary between your operating system and your printing hardware can become corrupt -- and when it does, you can experience bizarre printing problems that crop up in specific documents or circumstances. When your other troubleshooting attempts and approaches meet with failure, visit the website of your printer's manufacturer and download a fresh copy of the driver software for your model, operating system and version. You may find a fresher, improved version of the driver that solves other problems at the same time.

Special Problems

If your woes concern a thermal output device that prints directly on adhesive-backed label stock -- a label printer -- blank output signals a failed print head. Depending on the type of hardware you're using, your only recourse may be a new printer. If it's a heavy-duty barcode printer or warehouse-grade label printer, you may be able to purchase a new component and restore your device to service, but consumer-grade desktop labelers usually contain no replaceable parts except their output stock.