The Secrets of Ghost Printing


An example of “ghost printing”.

One of the most common issues to crop up when printing is “ghosting” or “ghost printing”. Essentially, ghost printing is when the printed page contains an extra, lighter version of the main image. This can often look like a lighter stencil of the original image. If you find that you are experiencing ghosting in your prints, there are a few things to try:

Check the Drum

If you are using a laser printer, damage to the drum can cause ghost printing issues. If the electrical charge on the drum is uneven, it can cause the toner particles to be attracted in an erratic pattern. If the cartridge includes the drum, replace the cartridge to see if it improves print quality. If the drum is a separate part, replace it.

Check the Paper

Whether you are using an inkjet or laser printer, make sure you are using paper that is designed for your type of printer. Paper designed for a laser printer may have poor results when used with an inkjet model, and vice versa. Check the label to ensure that your paper was designed for use in your printer. Also consider purchasing the right type of paper and printing a few test pages to see if it resolves the ghost printing issue. If you suspect the ghosting is related to only one paper path, you can also try Troubleshooting Paper Path Issues.

Set the Correct Paper Size and Type

When printing, the print setup screen usually appears, allowing you to choose options such as quality, page scaling, and more. Make sure you choose the correct media size and type for the paper that is loaded into the printer. If the computer is set to 8.5×14 inch paper but 8.5×11 inch paper is loaded into the tray, it can cause a number of output problems, including ghost printing.

Align the Print Heads

If you are using an inkjet printer, you can try aligning the print heads. Over time, the heads that produce the difference colors can go out of alignment with each other, and ghost printing is one of the potential problems that can result from this issue. When you are in the Print Settings menu, choose the Utility tab, and choose Print Head Alignment. You can then follow the instructions on the screen to complete the alignment process.

Some all-in-one models provide a print head alignment process right from the control panel. This video demonstrates the process for the HP C7280 model:

These steps should help you resolve your ghost printing issues. If you continue to have problems, you may need to contact the manufacturer or take your printer to a repair shop for further diagnostics.


Robyn Warner
Robyn Warner has been writing since she learned how to hold a pen. She wrote her first book of poems before the age of 10. Though creative writing is her preference, she is enjoying life in the technical blog world. Robyn’s goal in her 30s is to use her writing to inspire fellow cancer survivors and have a job that gives her the flexibility to live anywhere and never wear shoes.

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