Is there a simple way to calculate ink coverage when printing from *.pdf ?

I work at a digital printing studio and just got a new machine. With the machine came some cost tables which provides info about prices with 20,40,60 ... % coverage of paper.

When using CMYK palette, there is the possibility that ink coverage goes up to 400% (100% of C,M,Y,K) so I am looking for some fast and reliable way of getting to know how much ink is used before printing so I can modify prices. It should work with selected area or whole document.

  • 1
    Have you looked at APFill? I haven't used it, but it looks like it does what you're asking.
    – Dre
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 14:03
  • The 400% has nothing to do with the total ink coverage. That is the Maximum ink on a rich black, and should be defined by the profile.
    – Rafael
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 16:13

2 Answers 2


Adobe Acrobat has a number of tools to analyze PDF documents.

You can use the Preflight tool (Edit → Preflight...) to analyze for any pre-print issues, including ink coverage, image resolution etc. and correct some issues. There are a number of preset profiles that you can use, I believe some contain ink coverage checks. You can create your own custom profiles and add your own checks, including ink coverage.

Preflight custom checks

You can read more about the Preflight tool here:

If you just want to see the values you can use the Output Preview (Tool → Print Production → Output Preview). Set the preview to "Seperations" and you can hover over your pdf with your cursor and get live values for all inks and total coverage. You can also set a color to highlight any areas over a threshold of total coverage.

Output preview

Note, this is using Acrobat Pro CS6, the newer Acrobat Pro DC (CC) may differ.

  • 2
    This is a good answer about "total ink/total area coverage", but that just tells us how much ink there is in a single spot. I think the OP needs to know how much ink there is going to be used in total when printing.
    – Wolff
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 6:27

Try to use APFill Ink Coverage calculator. It calculates coverage of the PDF file and you will get results like on screenshots. It shows separated coverage % for each of CMYK spots and up to 8 pantone colors for each page of the PDF file.

APFill Ink Coverage Calculator CMYK results enter image description here

  • 1
    It's a nice software, however, there's available a similar freeware sw? The algorythm should be pretty easy to remake, even a python or php class could work... Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 22:14

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