Many variables go into developing the perfect home office. The location of your office furniture may help you narrow down some of your choices - if you are in the corner of an existing room, your colors will likely be set; if you are re-purposing a closet, you may need a small desk and lots of shelves. One item that is often an overwhelming purchase but seems like an easy snag is your home office printer.

Depending on your field, you might be surprised how many options are out there for a personal printer. Laser versus inkjet? What brand is best? Do I need a wireless printer? Is a photo printer really only for photos? How wide is “wide format”? You may have tons of questions, but these are actually a great way to start your hunt for the perfect printer. Here is a quick list of questions to help you narrow down what you are looking for:

  • What do you need from your printer? Will you need to scan, photocopy or fax documents/photos? Don’t talk yourself into buying an all-in-one or multifunction printer if you don’t need it.
  • What will you be printing most often: documents or photos? Will you need to accommodate over-sized prints?
  • What does the printer need to connect to? One or multiple computers? Mac versus PC? A digital camera? Do you need wireless connection capabilities?
  • How concerned are you with print speed and quality? This is where laser versus inkjet comes into play. Laser printers tend to be more expensive, but they also produce at higher volumes and higher quality. However, for most individuals an inkjet printer is a more cost effective way to go for good quality printing.

These four questions should get you off to a good start. Before you buy, read reviews for home office printers. It is easy to do a quick review search online before you buy. You can check on store web sites or search for forums discussing your particular field.

One thing to keep in mind if you will do a lot of color printing is whether or not you will need separate ink supplies for the different colors. When deciding between your final options it’s important to consider the ink cost. Up front, it may not seem like a big deal that one printer’s ink costs $3 more than anther one’s, but that cost can add up quickly when you work at home!

A final tip is to check out the store’s policies before you purchase: What is the return policy? Will they refer you to a manufacturer's warranty or require a store-bought insurance policy? A thoughtful printer purchase can save you time and money in the long run, so take your time and choose the one that best fits your needs!