Think Before You Print

Apr 1, 2014 | Branding, Consumer Goods

The ability to save hundreds of millions of dollars seems like a no-brainer, right?  We’d like to think so.

Suvir Mirchandani, a 14-year-old middle school student from Pittsburgh, began a science-fair project studying how his school could save money in its budget.  After noticing that he received several printed worksheets every day, Suvir decided to focus on reducing ink usage to cut costs rather than the common solutions such as recycling paper or double sided printing.

To begin his study, Suvir examined the most commonly used letters (e, t, o, a and r) typed in four common typefaces (Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans).  He then narrowed his focus by enlarging each letter, printing it on cardstock and carefully cutting out each one to weigh individually, calculating the amount of ink used for all four typefaces.

Shockingly, Suvir concluded that by printing text in Garamond typeface, his school could use 24 percent less ink, saving about $21,000 per year in ink costs.

So what does this mean for the government?

Suvir applied his sixth-grade science project calculations to the standard Government Printing Office documents and found that the federal and state governments combined could save $370 million annually, simply by switching their default font from Times New Roman to Garamond.  The federal government has not responded to Suvir’s findings.

The real question is, why not make the switch immediately?

Times New Roman has been used since the late 1920s, originally printed in the London Times.  Today, the typeface is a familiar and safe choice for users, which is why it is so commonly chosen.  It’s not the prettiest font we’ve ever seen, but definitely the least controversial.

And we understand that uncommon fonts may raise a slight eyebrow for more conventional workplaces.

“I recognize it’s difficult to change someone’s behavior,” said Suvir about his school and the government’s reaction to the switch.  “That’s the most difficult part.”

But at Gavin, part of our strategy is to think beyond the pretty and always ask why. So we applaud Suvir for the courage to ask the right questions and tackle a common problem with a solution that addresses a main priority for his school – saving money.

We do the same in our work every day: Asking smart questions and finding innovative solutions that drive action and support the messaging for each client.

Kudos, Suvir. Let us know if you need a job in the future.