A few weeks ago, an American teen showed the US government how they could save millions of dollars on their printing costs if they just changed the font they used from Times New Roman to Garamond. Suvir Mirchandani published a paper in the Journal of Emerging Investigators in which he claimed that the simple font change could save the US Government an estimated R4.9 billion a year.
It all started out as a Science Fair experiment. After noticing how many printed out pages he was given at his Pennsylvania school, Suvir decided to investigate the ways in which schools could cut down on their printer ink costs. He collected random samples of typical hand-outs and looked at the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r). Using APFill, he charted how much ink these characters used in Times New Roman, Garamond, Comic Sans and Century Gothic.
His findings showed that using Garamond, with its thinner strokes, could save his school district an estimated R220 000 a year by reducing their ink cartridge consumption by 24%. Suvir’s teacher encouraged him to get his results published and they submitted his paper to the Journal of Emerging Investigators. Peer reviewers at the journal wanted to see more real world applications of his findings, so they asked him to apply his project to the Federal Government.
Using five sample pages from the Government Printing Office website, Suvir came to the same conclusion – if they change the font, they will save money. He estimated that the Federal Government could save about R1.4 billion and that state or local governments could save R2.4 billion.
However, as soon as the news broke, many people started to take a closer look at Suvir’s claims. Typography expert, Thomas Phinney, has pointed out several flaws in Suvir’s findings. While it is true that Garamond uses less ink than Times New Roman, for example, it is only because the letters are smaller. What this means is that while using Garamond will save you money, it will also make anything you print out harder to read.
The US government also does not pay for ink cartridges or toner cartridges like ordinary consumers do. They pay for each page printed, regardless of the amount of toner or ink on that page, much like many companies that use managed print services do. Most government offices also use toner printers, as opposed to ink printers, which means that for day to day printing, their printing costs are already cheaper.
This doesn’t mean that ordinary consumers shouldn’t follow this printing tip, though. Using Garamond for your everyday printing could save you money in the long run.