U.S. could save millions by changing font type, teen finds

<i>This post has been updated, as indicated below.</i>

A 14-year-old student has published a study detailing how the U.S. federal and state governments could collectively save about $234 million a year by simply switching the type of font that is used on printed documents.

In his study, Suvir Mirchandani, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, said he found that Garamond is the most efficient font for printing, among the fonts recommend for use by the General Services Administration. This is because Garamond uses thinner strokes for its letters, meaning less ink is used on each character.

If the U.S. government stopped using Times New Roman and Century Gothic and switched to Garamond, it could reduce its annual cost of ink from $467 million per year by more than 29%. That means it would save about $136 million per year.


An additional $97 million could be saved if state and local governments made the switch too.

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Mirchandani conducted his research after beginning to be inundated by more printed handouts than he’d ever been upon his arrival to middle school, according to CNN.

Curious to see if there was any way to reduce the costs involved, Mirchandani conducted tests and found that his school district could save $21,000 annually by switching to Garamond.

Encouraged by his teacher, Mirchandani formally published his findings the Journal of Emerging Investigators, a publication that publishes the work of middle and high school students.

Mirchandani kept expanding his test, studying the effects on government.

Since then, Mirchandani’s findings have made their way to the U.S. Government Printing Office, which handles the federal government’s publishing services. Gary Somerset, the agency’s public relations manager, called Mirchandani’s work “remarkable,” according to CNN.


But that doesn’t mean the government will be switching to Garamond exclusively any time soon. For now, the U.S.’s reduction efforts are focused on moving documents to the Web instead, Somerset told CNN.

But that hasn’t discouraged Mirchandani.

“I definitely would love to see some actual changes and I’d be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible,” he told CNN.

[Update, 1:26 p.m. PDT March 28: Currently, the General Services Administration has an awareness campaign called “PrintWise” to prompt government employees into using toner-efficient fonts. The administration recommends that employees print documents using either the Times New Roman, Garamond or Century Gothic fonts in 11-point type.]


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