What’s the Best Font to Use to Save Money on Printer Ink?

Garamond font saves money on printer ink

Not all fonts are created equal, and chances are that you’re wasting money every time you print a sheet of paper simply by using the default font on the document. In fact, a Pittsburgh teenager named Survir Michandani, doing a science fair experiment, has estimated that all levels of the US government could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by simply changing the font that they use on documents.

So, what is the best font to save money on printer ink? Switch to Garamond (see image above). Michandani estimated that the US government could save $234 million per year by switching to the Garamond font from the current fonts they use for their documents. This number was extrapolated from him trying to save his own school money on printing costs.

Michandani noticed the large number of printed handouts and lesson plans he was getting in school. He realized if he was getting so many handouts, that amount must be huge when extrapolated out to the class, school, and district. He decided to figure out if there was a way to save money on printing costs for his school district.

He found that the cost of printing materials for students was something that his school district had already addressed. They had implemented a plan to print on both sides of paper and to implement a recycling policy to help reduce costs. One area where they hadn’t been able to make much progress was on the cost of ink.

Michandani decided to focus on the words being printed on the sheets of paper. As he analyzed the handouts, he concluded that there were five letters which were the most commonly used: a, e, o, r and t. He took each of the letters and printed them in four different fonts: Comic Sans MS, Century Gothic, Garamond and Times New Roman. He then used a software program called APFill Ink Coverage to determine how much ink was being used by each font to create the common letters on a piece of paper.

He realized that the thinner Garamond font was using less ink to create letters than the other three fonts being tested, and by switching, the school district could save a significant amount of money on printer ink. He calculated that they could save about $24,000 a year by switching fonts, which would reduce their ink costs by 24%.

He didn’t stop there. Taking into account the same principles, he decided to apply the cost savings to the entire nation including local, state and the federal government. His conclusion was that as a nation, the US government could save $234 million a year by making a simple font switch. Just the federal government could see savings of as much as $136 million from the $467 million they spend on printer ink each year.

Michandani isn’t the only one who has considered how the type of font used can make a difference in the amount of money spent on ink. Printer.com ran a test a few years ago using the same APFill Ink Coverage software to compare different fonts and how much ink they use. Their results indicated that using certain fonts rather than others could reduce ink costs by as much as 31%.

cost of printer ink using different fonts
While they did test more fonts than Michandani (they used the 10 most commonly used fonts), they did not include Garamond so that a direct comparison isn’t possible. Using Ariel as the base font, they concluded that Century Gothic was the font that used the least amount of ink, beating out even Eco Font which was created specifically to save printer ink. Their test results indicated that an average person who printed 25 pages a week would save about $20 a year if they simply used Century Gothic for all the pages they printed.

What does this mean for you? It means that you’re probably wasting ink and money by using fonts that use more ink than others. Instead of printing everything using the default font, changing the font to either Century Gothic or Garamond will save you money by using less ink and having to replace ink cartridges less often. Combine this with other ways you save money using your printer at home, and you should be able to trim a significant amount from what you have been spending using your printer in the past.

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10 Responses to What’s the Best Font to Use to Save Money on Printer Ink?

  1. We had a computer and encoding business before and in one day we almost printed how many pages. We usually used Times New Roman and Century Gothic for our fonts to save ink.

  2. JM says:

    The image above does not show Garamond. The font above is a sans serif and Garamond is a serif font.

  3. jeffrey says:

    Thaks for the catch — Changed

  4. Abi @ Debt Free in Dubai says:

    Smart kid. Incidentally, my favourite fonts are Garamond and treubet MS (sp).

  5. Ian says:

    This kid’s science fair project is getting out of hand. The Garmond font size is smaller relative to it’s point size, so it will inevitably use less ink. One thing people forget is that fonts also must be legible. Reading an entire document of sans-serif font, particularly one like Century Gothic, is hard on the eyes and will make the reader tired- hardly a good trade off when you’re printing hundreds of thousands of documents. Century Gothic is not a good body text, but is a nice looking header. What point do you stop? Why not switch to 6 point fonts for everything rather than 12? That will save a lot of ink!

    A better way to save ink (and trees) is to print 20 pages a week rather than 25. In fact, paper is one of the worst materials to recycle (it breaks down rather quickly into useless pulp), so considering it easy to waste compared to ink is missing half of the problem. It’s a good observation of the kid to save ink, but a rather short sited solution.

    There’s a story of an airline worker who figured out that the company could save a hundred thousand dollars a year by only giving one olive rather than two with their on-flight meals. The company got so excited that they promoted him and asked him to save a hundred thousand more.

  6. Gailete says:

    Fascinating article and something I would have never thought about. I will be changing my fonts used immediately for within our mailing labels, etc. for our business. Cute might look nice, but the bottom line is what is important in business. Each printer cartridge that we go through in our business is about $90. If we could get an extra 10% of printing out of it that is the equivalent of selling one item.

  7. MGA says:

    i always though arial is the cheapest. thanks for the information.

  8. michael says:

    This seems to be an easy way to reduce ink costs. The font above looks reasonable and easy to read. Why not change to save money?

  9. Here’s a link to an article Why Garamond Won’t Save The Government $467 Million A Year http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028436/why-garamond-wont-save-the-government-467-million-a-year

  10. John Robertson says:

    I tracked down an old copy of the printer.com test of how to save ink by switching from Arial. Oddly enough another test by Which Magazine in the UK found slightly different results on the same theme, a larger test by inkfarm finds different again, and my own tests of similar text in preview images gives another set of results, so the gist is clear but the detail is foggy.

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