Printer printing smudged copies, lines, or distorted text or images

Canon printerThis printer issue could be caused by any of the below possibilities, follow each of the below recommendations for troubleshooting this issue.

Paper issues

When printing on untraditional paper your printer may experience smudges, un-even or crooked text, or text that runs off the edges of the paper. To verify this is not the issue try 8.5 x 11 or standard paper in the printer and see if the printer experiences the same issue.

If your printer is printing fine on standard paper but is unable to print on special paper you could be experiencing any of the below issues with the special paper.

  1. Paper is not being fed into the printer properly. Often special sizes of paper will require that you move a slider to the edge of the paper or feed the paper into the printer in a non-traditional method. See your printer documentation for steps on feeding different sizes of paper into the printer.
  2. Some paper has different textures or surfaces that may cause smudging, streaks, or lines to occur. If you're getting any of these symptoms make sure to try different paper. If it is only occurring with a specific paper it's likely the paper causing the issue. If these issues happen with all paper continue reading the other below possible causes.

Driver related issue

If a printer is printing un-readable text, garbage, or other strange characters it's likely that you're experiencing a driver related issue. Download and install the latest drivers for your printer. A listing of printer manufacturers and links to each of their driver pages can be found on our printer drivers page.

Dirty our out of line printer heads

Your printer may be printing fuzzy, blurry, or other faint text because of dirty print heads. All modern printers have some printer cleaning, self-test, or diagnose mode that can be performed to check and clean the printers print heads and other internal equipment used to print. It is recommended if you use your printer heavily or have had it for more than one year that you perform this function. This can be done either through the software included with your printer or by pressing one or more of the buttons at the same time on your printer. Additional information about how to do this can be found in your printers documentation.

Ink or toner cartridge issues

Over time you'll need to replace the ink jet ink cartridges or the toner if you're using a laser printer. If you've been using your printer for more than a few months you may want to check the ink level or toner level. Often with most modern printers you can check these levels through software or a light indicator will be flashing or be orange indicating that one or more ink cartridge or toner cartridge needs to be replaced.

If it's been over a year since you've replaced your ink or toner cartridge we suggest you replace it.

Other printer hardware issue

Finally, if you've tried all the above recommendations and continue to experience issues it's possible your printer may be encountering a hardware related issue. Contact the printer manufacturer for additional recommendations and suggestions on repair or replacements.

Additional information

  • See our print and printer definitions for further information and related links on these terms.