Why Does My Printer Print Weird Random Symbols Or Characters? – Troubleshooting Guide

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Using your printer is meant to be a straightforward process. Once you hit ‘print’, the printer will recreate your document on paper. But what happens when the document comes out with random symbols and characters replacing the alphabets?

When a printer prints weird random symbols or characters, you should first reset the device and run any available self-troubleshooting software. If that fails to fix the problem, it’s likely caused by a software problem with the program you’re using or the printer’s driver. Wireless printers with this problem might be experiencing signal interference that corrupts data being received by the printer. 

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about troubleshooting your printer and making it print the correct alphabet again.

Why Does My Printer Print Gibberish?

When your printer fails to produce the correct document but prints weird random symbols and characters instead, the problem isn’t with the printer hardware.

Instead, the most likely causes are related to the software involved. In some cases, it might even involve connectivity issues for wireless and Wi-Fi printer models.

Here are the most likely reasons your printer is printing gibberish and how you can correct them:

Reset Or Troubleshooting Needed

What it is: When you’re facing this or any other kind of printer problem, your first troubleshooting step should be to reset the device and run any available troubleshooting software.

Resetting, also called rebooting, forces the printer to start over without any minor errors.

On the other hand, manufacturers sometimes provide you with printer management software that allows you to monitor the device and access its features. One such feature is troubleshooting, which triggers the printer to check for problems.

What happened: Like other kinds of electronic devices, printers can sometimes experience glitches. These are short-term, minor errors that have no apparent cause but can affect the printer’s ability to function correctly.

Resetting the printer will clear minor glitches by forcing the device to start over fresh. Besides that, troubleshooting software can sometimes identify more details about the glitch or error to help you fix it quickly.

How to fix it: You can reset any printer through power cycling. To do that, disconnect the device from its power source for 1 minute before turning it back on.

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Besides that, access the printer’s management software (if available) and run any self-test or self-troubleshooting features.

Read: Why Does My Printer Say No Paper When There Is Paper? – Troubleshooting Guide

Printing Program Problem

What it is: Printers rely on several different kinds of software. Aside from drivers and printer management programs, you’ll also use a program to edit your document and send print instructions from.

Common examples of that include your word processing program or a PDF document viewer. These are where you’ll preview the document before selecting its ‘print’ option to send it to your printer.

What happened: Glitches or errors in the printing program can also cause your document to come out with weird random symbols and characters. Simply put, a faulty program will send incorrect data to the printer, which results in the gibberish that comes out on paper.

Common reasons behind those errors include software that’s incompatible or outdated.

Here’s a quick way to test if your printing software is the source of the problem. Use a different program to open your document and print it from there instead. 

If the document is printed correctly, the program is to blame.

How to fix it: The first step you must take is to download the latest version of the software you use to view and print your document. Suppose the program has no menu option for downloading updates. In that case, you can go to the program’s main website to download the latest version and install it manually.

If that doesn’t help, uninstall the program entirely. Then reinstall the latest version. Uninstalling the previous version might be necessary to remove all its errors that affect your printing.

Read: Why Brother Printer Keeps Dropping Off The Wifi Network? – Troubleshooting Guide

Printer Driver Problem

What it is: The printer driver is a piece of software that allows your computer and printer to communicate clearly. The driver’s purpose is to convert your documents into data that the printer can understand and replicate.

When the driver sends correct data to the printer, the printer can then deposit ink onto paper that’s precisely the same as what you see on your computer screen.

What happened: Like other kinds of software, printer drivers will also function incorrectly if they’re outdated, faulty, or incompatible.

So, another likely cause behind your printer leaving gibberish on paper is the printer driver facing problems. The driver is likely outdated, experiencing some kind of glitch or error, or incompatible with your particular printer model.

How to fix it: Firstly, you must ensure that you’ve installed the correct printer driver. Each printer model has a compatible driver to ensure it functions correctly. 

Secondly, you must also ensure that the driver is up-to-date. Driver updates clear any known errors that existed in previous versions, which is why it’s crucial to download the latest version.

You can do both by visiting the manufacturer’s website. In addition, there will be a download page where you can download the latest driver version that’s compatible with your printer model.

Read: How To Fix Printer That Is Making Noises? – Troubleshooting Guide

Wireless Communication Problem

What it is: These days, plenty of printer models on the market have wireless capabilities. These include both wireless printers (which can connect to devices directly without wires) and WiFi printers (those that connect to your home or office wireless network).

These printers add convenience and flexibility thanks to the absence of printer cables.

What happened: As you might expect, this problem only applies to wireless printers. The reason your documents come out with weird random symbols or characters is there’s a problem with the printer’s wireless connection.

In other words, the data that’s being sent wirelessly to the printer is becoming corrupted. As a result, the device prints documents based on that incorrect data, which consists of gibberish.

How to fix it: The quickest way to resolve wireless communication errors is to delete (not just disable) the connection and start over. So, delete the printer’s connection to your wireless router or computer and reinstall it as a new printer.

At the same time, ensure that the printer is within signal range and remove anything that might cause interference. That includes other devices and home appliances like microwave ovens, which give off signals that can interfere with your wireless printer.

You can connect your wireless printer to the computer with a cabled connection as a short-term fix. That will help you print documents with a wired connection and confirm if the problem is indeed with the wireless network.

Read: Why Printer Not Printing In Color? – Troubleshooting Guide

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few more helpful questions and answers to help you understand your printer and its problems:

Why Is My Printer Printing In Symbols?

Your printer is printing in symbols because it’s receiving corrupted or incorrect data from your computer. This could be due to a software issue, particularly with the printer driver or whatever application you’re using to view and print that document.

How Do I Check Printer Issues?

A helpful way to check for printer issues is to run troubleshooting or diagnostics software. Many printer manufacturers include them with their products. The software will let the printer check itself for problems and report them to you.

Read: 3 Ways How To Fix Printer Paper Jam?

What Causes Printing Issues?

Printing issues are typically software or hardware related. Software-related causes include outdated printer drivers or errors in the software you use to view and print documents. Hardware issues include paper jams and wireless connectivity problems.

How Do Printers Connect Wirelessly?

Printers can establish direct connections to your devices to function wirelessly. Alternatively, WiFi printers can do the same by connecting to your local WiFi network, where it can be shared with multiple computers.

Why Is My WiFi Printer Cutting In And Out?

Your WiFi printer is cutting in and out (also known as having an ‘intermittent’ connection) because the WiFi signal is weak or experiencing interference. Move the printer closer to the WiFi router and relocate devices or appliances that cause signal interference.

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