Specimen of the typeface Century Gothic.
Image via Wikipedia

I have to admit, coming from a printing background, I am pretty sensitive to hype when it comes to Earth Day and environmentalism.  In fact, my wife has made me even more sensitive.  Recently, her new coming Allkidscrafts.com has had me brainstorming and testing recycling crafts for about a month now.  Two recent articles, though, bring together my printing background and my technology interests together.

The first article is from Dinesh Ramde at the Associated Press and considers whether changing the font will in fact save you money by reducing ink costs.  Ramde cites out two other sources.  Printer.com conducted research with different fonts and how much ink they use.  Their results?  The top five fonts with least ink usage were:

  1. Century Gothic
  2. Ecofont
  3. Times Roman
  4. Calibri
  5. Verdana

It’s important to mention that Arial came in at number six, though. Ramde went on to consider a biology professor at University of Wisconsin, Green Bay’s idea to save money.  Dr. Matthew Dornbush got the idea of recommending a font switch for the default in the university’s email systems.  Back to Printer.com’s research, Century Gothic, a sans serif font like Arial and Helvetica, used approximately 30% left ink than Arial.

Seems pretty cut and dry?  Make the switch, right?  Not so fast, a very smart Diane Blohowiak, the coordinator of information technology use support at University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, noted that Century Gothic is wider than Arial and Times Roman for that matter.  I call it a “fat font” or a “phat font.”  (You decide.)  You can see that one of the hallmarks of Century Gothic is that its letter Os are perfect circles, as are the Cs and Gs.  This will certainly cause the type in this font to take up more space and probably use more paper.  (By the way, Arial and Helvetica both have the perfect-circle-Os, too, but the space between letters is smaller.)  Eek!  Ramde reported that Blohowiak said,

Research suggests that ink comprises the main cost of a printout, but the environmental costs of paper are probably higher.

The university is going ahead with the switch, though.

What do you think?  Are you willing to make the switch?  Think it will use more paper?

About Michael M Grant

Dr. Michael M. Grant is a passionate professor, researcher, and consultant. He works with faculty members, schools and universities, and districts to integrate technology meaningfully and improve teaching and learning. When 140 characters just won't work, then he blogs here at Viral-Notebook.com. He has a beautiful wife and three equally beautiful daughters, who will change the world.

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