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  • Posted April 22, 2014 by

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    Can a Font Change Save the U.S. Government Millions of Dollars?


    A U.S. student of Indian origin has made claim to a statement that the U.S. government has the potential to save $400 million in printing costs if it makes a simple switch in fonts.


    Suvir Mirchandani, just 14 years of age, says that using Garamond instead of Times New Roman uses less ink. If the government chose to print every official document it publishes in Garamond, as opposed to Times New Roman, ink consumption would be significantly reduced, saving enormous amounts of money.


    His claim stems from a research project conducted as part of a school assignment and published in the Journal of Emerging Investigators. Experts in fonts and typography say his claim exaggerates the savings to be had.


    The font expert, Thomas Phinney, has explained on his blog that using Garamond at the same font size as opposed to using Times New Roman shows smaller, and therefore, less ink is used. The same is true for Arabic fonts.

    "It is not the change of font to Garamond that saves toner; it is that their chosen font is smaller at the same nominal point size than the comparison fonts,"
    wrote Phinney.

    In lowercase and both at the same font size, Garamond is approximately 15 percent smaller that Times New Roman. "Setting any font 15% smaller would save 28% of its area coverage. Interestingly, this is pretty exactly much what the study found. So, you could just as easily save ink by setting the same font at a smaller point size," he adds in his blog.

    Other issues Phinney exposed in Mirchandani’s research included the fact that printing costs were usually based on a per page price point. So, savings would be based on reduced pages, not on reduced amount of toner.

    A second fault in Mirchandani’s claim was that he based is findings on the use of an inkjet printer, which uses ink that costs more. The government, on the other hand, usually employs offset printing, which is far less expensive. The Government Printing Office spent $750,000 on ink in 2013.

    Yet, in spite of the criticism offered by Phinney, he did have praise for the student’s innovative ideas. "It is great that a middle school kid is doing creative problem solving and applying scientific thinking,"
    he wrote.

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