Research for a Post: Printers that handle index cards well

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Merlin Mann

May 31, 2005, 7:49:56 PM5/31/05
I'd like to revive a thread from a few months back.

With increasing interest in ways to use index cards has come a focus on
templated cards, grids, miniature copies of lists and calendars, etc.
But unless you want to buy costly perforated sheets or the like, this
can be a bitch on many printers. My Epson 880, for example, is not very
good at this at all.

I'd love to do a post on, say, the top three cheap printers that handle
index cards particularly well. If you've had a particularly good and
repeatable experience over time printing directly onto standard cheapie
index cards, please post about your printer here. Please also share
your impressions on ink/toner usage/value, and any other info you think
might be useful to people in making a buying decision. If there's
enough response I'll do a post on the mothership and credit the best


Steve Holden

May 31, 2005, 8:25:59 PM5/31/05
While it is an oldie ... My HP LaserJet 5MP prints very well on index cards.

I haven't had a problem with the unit at all.


Chris Hasenpflug

May 31, 2005, 9:24:02 PM5/31/05
I would love to see a post on this. I currently have an HP LaserJet 4L
and it will NOT work for 3x5 index cards. Cards aren't long enough to
make it through. Would love to replace it with some of your advice.

Chris Nachtman

May 31, 2005, 9:29:01 PM5/31/05
I just got a Samsung ML-1740 B&W laser printer. Prints 3x5 cards pretty well.
Havent tried to go full size (no margins) yet with it. I just tell it
the card size of 3x5, 1/4" margins, and manual feed and it happily prints it
out. Samsung's software allows you to setup "Favorites" for printer
configs too so you dont have to manually change it all every time.

You can usually find them for around $100-$120. The starter toner is
supposed to print about 1000 pages (8x11), refills will do 3000.



May 31, 2005, 9:35:01 PM5/31/05
I have been thrilled to be able to run my TiddlyWiki 3 X 5 print jobs
through my HP 2100 laser printer. Now I can keep my HPDA looking smart!

After years of paying ever increasing prices for ink jet cartridges for
my "throw-away" ink jet printers, I bit the big one and splurged for a
LaserJet Printer.

There is a reason(s) why the InkJet/BubbleJet printers are so low
priced - they are cheaply made of cheap materials and the companies
make their money selling replacement cartridges.

Anyone remember that the 'original' Gillette razors were given away to
sell you blades for a lifetime? The problem here being the
Ink/BubbleJet printers wont last more than a year. Printer
manufacturers have missed the point of good old King Gillette's
marketing genius.

My LaserJet is 3 years old and still acts like a young pup. When I
first purchased it I also picked up a spare toner cartridge. The
printer is still printing with the original cartridge.


May 31, 2005, 9:39:05 PM5/31/05
Chris H. .... have you tried the envelope feed with running the 3x5 in
portrait mode? Also, try the drop down feed trough tray - more of a
straight through path.

If you envelope feed is like mine, centers the card in the feed tray,
use a 2.75 inch left hand margin for you set-up.

May 31, 2005, 10:08:41 PM5/31/05
I have a hp laserjet 1300 and it prints 3x5 cards very well and pretty
much anything else I throw at it. In my opinion a laser printer is the
way to go. I also have an epson R320 which I cannot get it to print 3x5.

Chris Hasenpflug

May 31, 2005, 11:33:54 PM5/31/05
Its not like the 2100. Pretty sure the 4L is an older model. Here's a

I can put the cards in the manual feed there, but the cards are not
long enough to be pushed through the printer. They get printed on, but
don't make it to the finisher so it causes a "jam" and the toner
literally dusts right off the card.

Its not a huge ordeal right now, I got the printer for free. But I'd
like to get a new one sometime soon that will print on cards and
preferably color laser ;)

My dad got a new Dell color laser, I'll try a 3x5 on it next time I am
home. Its a beastly printer though.


Jun 1, 2005, 1:10:21 PM6/1/05
Hi, Merlin,

My old Lexmark Z32 inkjet prints 3 x 5s easily. I have to send them
through portrait but I can print in either direction, and I can put a
stack of them in the printer - no need to feed one at a time. (An old
Z22 would probably work just as well; it's the same model but the 22
can print with only a black cartridge installed while the 32 needs to
have a color cartridge as well.)

The printer is the ultimate cheapie: it was free years and years ago
with a computer I'd purchased. Works with both Win and OS X (Panther,
at least; I haven't had the courage to use that Tiger DVD sitting next
to my powerbook). Since I use Word on both machines, that's primarily
the program I've used to print. I set it up so the page is 3 x 5
(landscape), even use headers and footers (yeah, excessive, I know).


Adam Gurno

Jun 1, 2005, 1:21:41 PM6/1/05
Hi Merlin,

The HP OfficeJet 6110 prints on 3x5, 4x6, 5x8.

Adam Gurno

Jun 1, 2005, 9:01:11 PM6/1/05
The (now remaindered) Canon i560 prints them well from WordPerfect and
OpenOffice; (I've had problems though trying to print from pdf for some
reason). I've printed off the various checklists and things I use for
class as well as my kids' speeches when they were rehearsing. Just put
a stack of cards in as if you were printing off photos and you can
print away (landscape or portrait as you prefer). Perfectly readable in
draft mode.

One that definitely doesn't work is the hp 4000 series ps (with duplex
unit) ... jam city.

Fact Mechanic

Jun 1, 2005, 10:05:20 PM6/1/05
I have a HP LJ 1200 and I'm using OSX and I'm having problems with the
3x5 printing. What settings are you using? I want to try them out and
see if they work for me. Thanks in advance.

Lyen Huang

Jun 5, 2005, 6:29:52 PM6/5/05
I've had great luck printing cheapie 3x5 cards on my HP Deskjet 5500. I
got it for $50 several years ago when I got my Powerbook through some
promo at the Apple Store. I know inkjets are not al that popular
because of the cost of printing, but after replacing my color cartridge
with the photo one, I have yet to replace anything else. I've used the
printer for the occasional photo, but since I have access to an old
laser printer, the Deskjet is pretty much devoted to index card
printing alone.

I've heard many complaints about HP's drivers, but I've been quite
happy with the settings for 3x5 cards so far. In contrast, I've had
nothing but trouble trying to print index cards on my HP Laserjet 4000.
it almost seems like the cards are too small to get printed on.

BTW, I just use the cheapo blank white index cards from OfficeDepot,
then print my own late grey grids on both sides with some orange
accents. I also print my business card info at the bottom in blue,
which is always a great conversation piece. Kudos to the person who
posted that suggestion a few months back!

Harvey Simmons

Jun 9, 2005, 7:34:24 PM6/9/05
I'm now determined to buy a small laser printer. I've been looking at
reviews of the following machines:

Samsung ML-1740
Brother HL-2040
Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W
HP 1020

Can we get anymore opinions on laser printers for index card printing?

BTW: I'm not even remotely interested in anything with the Lexmark
name on it. Their attempts to use the DMCA to shutdown cartridge
refillers gets them to number 1 on my "special" list.



Quintus Frimschlowder VIII

Jun 9, 2005, 7:41:04 PM6/9/05
I also have a similar goal, and would like to hear more reviews as
well, if any others have some to spare.

- Brendan


Jun 13, 2005, 2:03:45 PM6/13/05
My Lexmark Z54 prints index cards quite nicely, even in low dpi
(300dpi) on plain paper index cards.


Jun 15, 2005, 5:03:51 PM6/15/05
My Canon PIXMA iP3000 works great with index cards. I haven't owned a
printer since 2000, and that was an Apple Stylewriter. Printers have
progressed quite a bit since then. This thing is fast and quiet, and
the output looks good. 3x5 index cards work well as a custom paper
size. Credit Card is one of the paper size presets, which makes 3x5
seem like a strange omission in comparison, but it took all of 1 minute
to figure out how to add the custom size.

This printer is on sale at lots of places. I paid $69 at a local
OfficeMax with no rebates. 4 ink tanks, and PictBridge USB connection
on the front panel.

Harvey Simmons

Jun 15, 2005, 5:52:45 PM6/15/05
A detour on my path to a new printer (hopefully laser) to print index and business cards:

Today at Fry's, I asked a sales guy about the Samsung ML-1740. When I asked him about the maximum paper thickness, he looked down at the manual feed slot, put his thumb and index finger above and below the slot, and held them up to me. He said, "Maximum paper thickness? About like this."

I said "Thanks" and walked away.


Although, now I'm wondering about this 1/4" thick paper the printer can apparently use...


Jun 15, 2005, 6:59:27 PM6/15/05
Laser is nice and cheap for black and whites and the text will look
awesome. Here is my .02. The samsung will kill you in toner prices.
Further, there are no Mac OSX drivers for the samsung. The brothers
are nice, but when you have to replace the drum, it costs as much as
the printer does. I would go with the hp 1020 myself. I have worked
with everything but the konica.

Harvey Simmons wrote:
> I'm now determined to buy a small laser printer. I've been looking at
> reviews of the following machines:
> Samsung ML-1740
> Brother HL-2040
> Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W
> HP 1020
> Can we get anymore opinions on laser printers for index card printing?
> BTW: I'm not even remotely interested in anything with the Lexmark

> name on it. Their atLasLasetempts to use the DMCA to shutdown cartridge

Harvey Simmons

Jun 16, 2005, 8:14:07 AM6/16/05

I had been leaning toward the HP 1020. I actually feels sturdier than either the Brother or the Samsung. I haven't had a chance to see the Konica yet. At my local Fry's, the Samsung toner cartridge costs about the same as the printer itself. (89.95)

I'm probably going to order the HP early next week.

Thanks for everyone's input!


BTW: has the 1020 for $170 + $4.75 Fedex 2nd Day.


Jun 16, 2005, 1:12:36 PM6/16/05
The Brother HL-1435 (b & w laser) prints 3 x 5s beautifully. The cards
do need to be fed manually, though. (This sweetheart of a printer cost
me just a bit over $100 (there was a rebate at the time) so when it
comes time to replace anything too expensive on it, I'll just (sadly)
replace it. However I've never actually had to replace the drum of a
printer, so that may not be an issue, anyway.)

I also have an HP 1220, but I loathe it so I haven't tried printing 3 x
5s with it.


Harvey Simmons

Jun 16, 2005, 3:26:14 PM6/16/05
Thanks for the news on the Brother. The Fry's salesman said something about it, but after his comment about the paper thickness on the Samsung, he lost all credibility with me. :) The Brother had no price on it at the store. He couldn't even look it up. I suspect he was a loon.

I am 100% sold on a laser, however. I'm trying to convince my sister-in-law to switch, too. Color inkjets are nice and all, but I need to (A)save money, (B)print lots of plain b/w text, (C)print index and business cards, and (D)save money.

I'm also considering someone else's (Merlin?) idea of printing on sheets of card stock and cutting them down into cards. Either way, laser's the answer.



Jun 16, 2005, 10:15:53 PM6/16/05
I've got an inexpensive Brother HL-1440 laser printer. It was a bit
over $100 at Staples when I purchased it last year. I just tried
printing Doug Johnston's 3x5 card version of the D*I*Y planner for the
hipsterPDA, and it worked great. You do have to manually feed the
cards, but that works fine, and the print quality is very good. This is
on Mac OS X 10.3 with an old iMac DV.

Chris Nachtman

Jun 17, 2005, 4:22:17 AM6/17/05
You can also find refurb toner cartidges for the samsung for around
40-50 bucks online, or try one of the many misc refill kits. I've
never used or known anyone who's used the laser refills however and
cant speak to their effectiveness. But there are at least some
cheeper options then retail new cartridges.


monki (Wesley Beary)

Jun 21, 2005, 5:48:49 PM6/21/05
I also recently acquired an ML-1740 and I have been happy with results.
I just wanted to chime in to add that in addition to manual feed I
have also had good results pushing the tray line-up things in to the
smallest size and loading it with notecards. Which in my book is a
definate plus. Toner drums are pricy, but toner save/draft modes can
help and still look pretty good.


J Block

Jun 21, 2005, 8:35:52 PM6/21/05
The HP LaserJet4L is from around 1993 or 1994. It's only really good
at printing plain text on 8.5 x 11 paper. The manual feed is really
quite iffy on the best of days. It is pretty bullet-proof though, I've
had a number of springs and rollers and such fall out of mine, and it
just keeps chugging along.

I don't suppose anyone makes perforated sheets of index cards, similar
to the DIY business cards?

Brian McGroarty

Jun 22, 2005, 12:07:01 PM6/22/05
This may be what you're looking for. The description says there are
three sheets to a page, perforated. I've never used them myself.

I'm having decent luck with my HP PSC2175. Instead of using the
envelope feeder slot, I tuck a stack of about 50 index cards right in
where the paper goes. I didn't notice it at first, but the paper guide
arm slides all the way back under the output tray. Having the arm snug
against the cards does a good job of preventing jams and double feeds.
Some of the cards print about 5 degrees off true, but that's less of a
nuissance than manual feeding.

I print the DIY cards at 85% magnification. This ensures that a
rotated print still fits fully on the card. The scale also takes care
of the half inch footer margin enforced by the printer. Printing at
high print quality keeps the scaled down card from getting murky.

CMB from Omaha

Jun 22, 2005, 7:53:30 AM6/22/05
HP DeskJet 1220C is my fave printer. A bit more expensive ($250 about
18-24 months ago) than some but worth it for versatility and had better
warranty coverage (had I needed it).

Ink usage seems to be about average for color inkjets (this is about my
6th or 7th inkjet)

At the large-media end, printer accepts everything up to 13x19; I use
for 11x17 quite often. At the smaller end, 3x5 index cards don't seem
to be "officially" supported media (4x6 and 5x8 cards are), but I just
printed on a 3x5 card with no problems. Do use it for 4x6 cards fairly

With larger media supported, of course, printer "footprint" is larger
than most (primarily widthwise).


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