Fourteen-year-old Suvir Mirchandani found a way to save the federal and state governments almost $400 million from their yearly budgets just by changing the typeface they use on handouts. The best choice? Garamond!
Mirchandani’s school was looking for ways to save money, but he noticed no one was paying attention to the ink used on its many handouts. He noticed that Hewlett-Packard printer ink is $75 an ounce, while an equivalent amount of French perfume is only $38.
Here is how he came to the conclusion that Garamond is the best choice:
Collecting random samples of teachers’ handouts, Suvir concentrated on the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r).
First, he charted how often each character was used in four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Then he measured how much ink was used for each letter, using a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software.
Next he enlarged the letters, printed them and cut them out on cardstock paper to weigh them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font.
From this analysis, Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.
He then used the data to project how much the government, both at the federal and state levels, could save via the switch.
Unfortunately, the Government Printing Office (GPO) has not made a decision to change its printing style. Gary Somerset, spokesman for the GPO, said the branch is trying to move from paper to digital for environmental and cost reasons. However, he also said they are printing out 2,500 pages a day.