How important are the little details? Just ask the middle school student in Pittsburgh who discovered that the government could save $400 million dollars just by changing the typeface it uses. Suvir Mirchandani, inspired by a class project on saving ink, discovered that by switching from Times New Roman to Garamond, his school could reduce ink use by a quarter. Applying that information to the government, he found that it could slash its ink usage by a similar margin and save $400 million.
The federal government estimates that it uses $467 million every year for ink. Suvir calculated that by switching from a bold font to a slimmer one like Garamond, the government could save nearly $136 million on ink, reducing costs by almost 30%. If state and local governments got in on the change, the entire country could save another $234 million.
While switching your typeface at home may not make quite as large of a difference, the government prints an immense number of documents, so every little bit helps. For instance, every day the government prints 2,000 copies of its own daily journal called the Federal Register, which can run hundreds of pages long.
Of course, others have realized the savings that can be had by making the switch even before Suvir’s calculations. University of Wisconsin, Green Bay changed the default typeface in its email system to conserve ink and who can blame them? Ounce for ounce, ink is more expensive than Chanel No. 5 perfume.