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Three ways to use less printer ink or toner

As you are probably aware, a primary expense of home and office printing is the ink or toner your printer uses. Naturally you want to get the most use out of those cartridges possible, so here are three things you can do to conserve ink and toner.

1. Opt for EconoMode for printing jobs that don’t require high-quality looks.

Most printers offer the option of choosing EconoMode (or draft mode) printing (often under the “advanced options” tab in your print dialogue box.). EconoMode printing quality is somewhat inferior to regular printing, but it uses much less ink or toner. If you often print working drafts of documents or temporary in-house materials that don’t need to be top-quality, you can save a lot of ink or toner if you get in the habit of choosing EconoMode when appropriate.

2. Choose your fonts wisely.

It’s surprising how much ink-use varies from font to font. Most people don’t even think about font, instead falling into the habit of using the most common default fonts, Arial and Times New Roman.

Your more savvy readers will notice when you use these two tired default fonts, and they may surmise (correctly or not) that you simply haven’t cared enough about your document’s appearance to take the time to choose your fonts. And more to the point, printing with these fonts will use more ink or toner than necessary.

Fonts primarily fall into one of two categories: serif (with tails or flourishes on the letters) and sans serif (sans is French for “without”). Some suggest the word serif is a variation of the Latin seraph, or angel, therefore serif fonts have “wings.” This may be a fanciful way to remember the term, but the main point is that fonts with letters that are totally plain, like these in Arial font, are sans serif, while font letters that have little extra lines are serif fonts.

A b W

So what difference does any of this make?

Remember, the purpose of writing is to be read, and a primary purpose of fonts is to facilitate reading. So the basic thing to remember here is this: Serif fonts make it easier to read blocks of text (which is why serif font Times New Roman is commonly the default for “body text”), while sans serif fonts are clearer and easier to read in short bursts, such as headings.

For general purposes (if you want to be kind to your readers), you will choose a serif font for blocks of text in your writing and a sans serif font for headings.

Now then, back to the original question: Which fonts use the least ink or toner? Does it seem like such a little thing couldn’t matter that much? Actually it can make a real difference, especially if you print a lot of text regularly.

The thriftiest sans serif font is probably Century Gothic which increases the width of the letters to improve clarity while making the lines of the letters thin and thrifty. Compare these two fonts:

  • These words are written with 12 pt. Century Gothic font
  • These words are written with 12 pt. Arial font

It’s easy to see that Arial is darker, which uses more ink (without improving readability). In fact, according to most estimates, Century Gothic uses 30% less ink than Arial, which can add up fast, especially when you tend to print large headings.

For an ink-saving serif font, Garamond is a favorite, although it may not actually use a lot less than good old Times New Roman. However Garamond is also considered to be the most readable font, which is why it’s the body-text choice of most newspapers.

You might also consider Courier or Courier New, two fonts based on old-fashioned typewriter fonts that were designed to use as little ink as possible to save on typewriter ribbon costs.

If you print lots and lots of text on a regular basis, you may want to invest in Ecofont software. This program adds minute imperceptible spaces to normal font letters which results in less use of ink.

3. Let go of bad habits.

If you tend to use “bold” or “underline” to emphasize words or phrases, switch to using “italics” which is less glaringly disruptive and uses less ink while still conveying emphasis.

And if you like to use ALL-CAP HEADINGS, please reconsider. This is a habit left-over from the dinosaur age of typewriters when ALL-CAPS (and centering text) were among the few ways to distinguish headings from body text. Today ALL-CAPS are used to indicate SHOUTING, which is generally considered impolite (except in applications such as Face Book that lack text options.)

So, there you go. If you get in the habit of utilizing all three of these suggestions, you will achieve two things: First, you will lower your printing expenses, and second, your documents will actually look more polished and up-to-date. It’s a win-win-win for you and your readers.

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