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

Canon printerThis printer issue can have a number of causes. To proceed, we recommend reading each of the following sections in order. They are written systematically to troubleshoot your problem in the most efficient manner possible.

Paper issues

If you are using anything other than standard printer paper, your may see smudges, uneven 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 sheets in your printer. If your printer works fine with standard paper, you may have a sizing or texture issue. If not, move on to the next section.

Special sizes of paper may require users to move a slider or feed the paper into the printer in a non-traditional manner. See your printer documentation for steps on loading different sizes of paper into the printer. Additionally, some varieties of paper have different textures on the surface that can cause smudging, streaks, or lines to occur. As a result, some types of paper simply won't be compatible with your machine.

Driver related issue

If a printer is printing unreadable text or strange characters, you may be experiencing a driver related issue. Download the latest drivers for your printer and install them. A listing of printer manufacturers and links to the driver sections of their sites 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 a mode that can be run to check and clean the printers print heads; as well as other internal equipment used in the printing process. If you use your printer often or have had it for more than one year, we recommend running the cleaning function by using the printer software or pressing buttons on your printer. Consult your printer's documentation for further details.

Ink or toner cartridge issues

If you have been using the same cartridge for more than a few months, you may want to check the ink or toner levels. On most modern printers, you can check these levels using software or by a light indicator on the front of the machine (consult the owner's manual for details on indicator lights). If you have been using the same car cartridge for over a year, 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.