I'm looking for a term to describe the letters (or for that matter anything) that are not dark though readable. Somewhat faded. As I just typed, I know 'faded letters' could be an option but is there any particular term for it? Another term that comes to my mind is 'hazy letters' but I don't think it fits. It might talk more about 'unclear' letters but not due to less ink!

Here is the image of such a printout

enter image description here

See the letters 'C' and 'E' in the printout.

I want to build a sentence like...

Don't take any copies from that printer. It has very little ink left. You'll get [faded/hazy] printout/letters/images.

  • 1
    You'll get letters with streaks in them. Or your printout may contain streaks.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 13:20
  • 1
    This HP Printer Guide may have some useful examples and different words.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 13:41

5 Answers 5


HP Printer Problem document suggests:

The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded printouts, color or black ink not printing, documents with blurred or fuzzy text, ink streaks or smears, and other print quality problems.


Those letters are "too faint to read" (i.e. not dark enough to be legible).

With so little ink|toner left, "you'll get a faint image".


You might be better off approaching from the angle of “barely legible” or “barely discernable”.

You could also describe the letters as faint, which is a general enough word to apply to situations where ink is not involved (and/or not the source of the issue) and descriptive enough to use on its own.

You could even combine the two and call them faintly legible in order to not only describe the letters, but also reinforce the reason that their insubstantial state matters to you.


You will get a faded printout, as the term faded means that the intensity has reduced, either over time or in this case immediately from what was expected.

  • 1
    OP stated awareness of “faded”. Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:47

I would call them "streaked" and would phrase the sentence like this:

Don't take any copies from that printer. It has very little ink left. You'll get a streaked printout.


You'll get streaks on your letters/images.

As a side note, many printers used to have a feature that would use less ink (some still do, but it is much less common than before). That feature is called "draft mode," and was designed to not waste ink on an initial draft when changes would likely be made before reprinting the final copy. The printing was lighter, but still legible. I wouldn't have turned in a document printed in draft mode to my boss, but it was perfectly good for initial revisions or personal use.

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