Eco fonts and ink-saving tips
Sustainable printing for small businesses
Looking to cut your office printing costs and increase your small business sustainability? We’re right there with you. We’ve put together a list of the seven best eco fonts to help you cut your use of ink and paper, increase your green credentials, and reduce those all-important costs…
Best fonts for using less ink
If you’re looking for the best ink-saving eco fonts, our favourites are listed here – just hit the links to find out more…
|Spranq eco sans
|Times New Roman
|Baskerville Old Face
These days, the onus is on us all to look after the planet. Whether you’re a small, services-based business or a national chain of bricks-and-mortar stores, your clients and customers expect you to do your bit for the environment. And while it’s no longer enough to say you’re recycling in the office and using energy-saving lightbulbs, there are plenty of small changes you can implement today that will have a mighty impact on your carbon footprint, as well as on your operating costs.
One of the easiest-to-make changes that will have real and tangible benefits for the planet and your profits is this: to rethink how you print.
Think about how you print
Have a think now about the printing that goes on in your office. How many times do you and your colleagues print a document or an email simply so that somebody else can have a quick look and give feedback on its contents? How many times a week does somebody in the office hit Ctrl P on a Word file just so they can take it with them across the office to get a line manager’s sign-off? All those little print jobs that, while seemingly necessary, are actually never seen by clients or customers and will more often than not end up in the recycling bin within the hour.
It happens fairly regularly, right?
But the sad truth is that every time we print, we’re using valuable resources. Resources that hurt the planet. And resources that hurt your business’s bottom line.
These days, the onus is on us all to look after the planet. Whether you’re a small, services-based business or a national chain of bricks-and-mortar stores, your clients and customers expect you to do your bit for the environment
Printing vs. the planet
The more you print, the more ink you use. The more ink you use, the longer the print job takes. The longer the print job takes, the more electricity you use. The more electricity you use, the bigger your carbon footprint – and the higher your bills.
What’s more, every time your printer runs out of ink, you have to order refills. These refills need to be manufactured and shipped, which requires yet more energy and resources. And the empties? They will most likely become nothing more than metal and plastic waste, which will be shipped (again) off to spend the rest of eternity in landfill.
All of these actions ramp up your business’s CO2 emissions, increase your carbon footprint and hurt you not only in the green credentials, but in your wallet. None of which is ideal.
You’re not alone
Of course printing is sometimes unavoidable. We know that. As proofreaders and copywriters, we here at Comma Chameleon can happily do 99.9% of our work on screen. We’ll often beaver away for weeks on end without ever having to look at a piece of paper. But sometimes – just sometimes – we need to print a document to ensure we’re able to maintain the high level of quality our clients have come to expect from us. Because when we’ve written, edited and amended the same document a million times on screen, we know there’s a danger our brains will start reading what should be written, and not necessarily what the words on the page actually say. In that respect, printing a document and proofreading it on paper is our last line of defence against all those typos and homophones that might have slipped through the net.
But it’s important to us that we do business sustainably, whether that’s making sure our website is hosted green (which it is) or using renewable energy to power and heat our office (also yep). So when we do print, we try to make sure we’re doing it in a way that’s as kind to the planet as possible.
The more you print, the more ink you use. The more ink you use, the longer the print job takes. The longer the print job takes, the more electricity you use. The more electricity you use, the bigger your carbon footprint – and the higher your bills
Cost vs. quality
Any business owner who regularly needs to print documents will know exactly how expensive it can be to keep the office plied with ink and paper. Ink especially is notoriously pricey. In fact, in many cases it would be much cheaper to fill your printer with Dom Perignon than it would be to buy branded ink cartridges. Which is unfathomable, really.
But when you’re running a small business, relying on word of mouth and good reviews to maintain custom, and printing is a key component of your quality control, you really can’t afford to get into a quality vs. cost debate. Because while not printing might save you some money in the short-term, a reputation-damaging mistake could see you losing repeat custom, and that will mean your wallet taking a hit in an altogether more fundamental way.
So how do you strike a balance between cost and quality?
Many of the fonts that a lot of businesses use as defaults for writing and printing are neither ink-efficient nor environmentally friendly
Reduce, reduce, reduce
Firstly, try to print only when you really need to. If you need a colleague’s input on a report, instead of printing it out try emailing it to them and asking them to annotate it on screen. Or email it over and then walk across to their desk to get their feedback in person. Most of the time, this is going to be a perfectly adequate, easy-to-implement change.
Secondly, whenever you do need to print something, make sure you use as little ink and paper as possible. So:
- Print both sides
- Shrink the point size to the smallest it can be without affecting readability
- Decrease your margins to fit more words on the page; and
- Use an eco font.
All this will mean you can still strive for perfection while being kinder to the planet and reducing your costs.
The best eco fonts
If you’re looking to cut costs and increase sustainability in your own business, these eco-friendly fonts are a great option for everyday printing tasks.
Many of the fonts that a lot of businesses use as defaults for writing and printing are neither ink-efficient nor environmentally friendly. Fonts like Arial, for example, are generally chosen for their on-screen legibility (and, let’s be honest, closeness to the top of the font list), but they are actually heavily weighted and, despite being sans serif, use far more ink than even other classic defaults like Times New Roman.
So what are the best ink-efficient fonts?
Whether you want a specially-designed eco font, or a standard font that uses less ink, here are our top recommendations…
Designed by a team of eco-conscious creatives in the Netherlands, Spranq eco sans is the holey cheese of fonts. Each character in the typeface contains tiny ‘holes’, which are virtually invisible when printing at smaller point sizes but result in 20% less ink being used. Pretty clever, eh? When using Spranq at 9- or 10-point, as you might for any normal document, the dots fill in as the ink ‘bleeds’ during printing, so you don’t even see the cost-cutting in action – you’ll just feel it in your pocket. If you ever need to print in a bigger point size, say 12 or above, the holes will start to become more visible. But given that it’s a pretty badass-looking font, you probably won’t have a problem with that. Heck, it could even become a stylistic or branding choice.
Each character in the typeface contains tiny ‘holes’, which are virtually invisible when printing at smaller point sizes but result in 20% less ink being used
If you’re tied to your brand’s fonts, you could check out SPRANQ’s Ecofont software. Developed by the same team behind the typeface, Ecofont is a nifty bit of software that applies the ink-saving dotted white spaces to other popular fonts, such as Arial, Calibri and Tahoma. So you can maintain your branded look while printing ink-efficiently and cutting costs. Pretty ingenious, eh!?
Another font designed specifically to incorporate white space and ink ‘bleeding’ within characters, Ryman Eco is the ‘world’s most beautiful sustainable font’ (according to its designers). It was developed by font experts Monotype in conjunction with British stationary retailer Ryman and uses multiple lines to create each letter. When printing at smaller point sizes (up to 14) these lines ‘bleed’ to fill in, meaning the characters look solid. At larger point sizes, the white spaces become visible and it just looks classy AF.
So how much ink does it save? Well, compared to standard fonts like Georgia and Verdana, you’re looking at an ink (and cost) saving of about 33%, which is not to be sniffed at. According to the creators, if everyone used Ryman Eco for printing, the world would save 490 million ink cartridges and 15 million barrels of oil, while reducing annual CO2 emissions by up to 6.5 million tonnes.
And the best bit for business owners? It’s free to download.
Head over to designer Debbie Vayanos’ blog to grab the font pack. The button to download is at the bottom of the page.
When printing at smaller point sizes (up to 14) these lines ‘bleed’ to fill in, meaning the characters look solid. At larger point sizes, the white spaces become visible and it just looks classy AF
For many businesses and home users, Garamond’s power lies in its elegance and readability. For those reasons alone, it’s a firm favourite for use across all sorts of printed materials, from newspapers and magazines to flyers and brochures. But did you know it’s also possibly the most eco-friendly of all the ‘standard’ fonts, and uses 30% less ink than the more popular Times New Roman at the same point size? No, not many people do.
How does it do that? Well, there is a bit of a caveat here actually, because Garamond is a smaller font.
Letter-for-letter, at the same point size, Garamond is 15% smaller than most other fonts. For many people, that won’t present an issue. But if you need to increase the point size to maintain readability, you’ll also be ramping up your ink usage and you’re not going to benefit from the cost savings. Worth bearing in mind.
This geometric sans serif font uses less ink because it has a thin print line, and it maintains readability by having taller lower-case letters. The thin print line means that, when compared to other sans serif fonts like Arial, Century Gothic uses 30% less ink, thereby cutting printing costs and boosting sustainability.
The font’s eco credentials are somewhat challenged, however, by the wider letters, which take up more of the width of the document, meaning you get fewer words on a line. When it comes to printing, this means the same document will use more paper if you keep the default page setup. A quick and easy workaround, if you want to start printing in Century Gothic, is to make your document margins smaller so you can fit more words on a line.
The default font in MS Word up until 2007, Times New Roman’s serif typeface has been used across printed and online publications for donkey’s years. Infinitely readable due to the tips and tails on every letter, Times New Roman also uses a heck of a lot less ink than the worst go-to ink guzzlers (we’re looking at you, Arial). One study carried out on seven of the most popular fonts found that Times New Roman produced 114 more pages than Arial for the same amount of ink used. That’s an awful lot more bang for your business buck. And an awful lot kinder to the environment.
Infinitely readable due to the tips and tails on every letter, Times New Roman also uses a heck of a lot less ink than the worst go-to ink guzzlers
This retro, mono-spaced serif font was designed in the mid-1950s specifically to cut down on ink use and extend the life of typewriter ribbons. These days, while personal computers and word processors have replaced typewriters, Courier is still a good shout for anyone looking to cut down on ink costs. When compared to other standard eco-friendly fonts like Garamond, Courier comes up trumps in terms of maintaining readability even when the point size is reduced.
In a rather artful testing of ink efficiency across popular fonts, designers Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth used ballpoint pens to determine that Courier was second-best-in-class for using the least ink (behind only Garamond, that cheekily smaller font). Check out their work, Measuring Type, to see how the popular fonts fared after they were rendered lovingly in pen on a wall. It’s a sobering visual illustration of how font choice is (or should be) about far more than stylistic preference.
In a study by a Seattle-based print shop, Baskerville Old Face came out near the top of 134 popular standard fonts for ink economy. The study found that printing documents in Baskerville instead of Arial could slash a company’s ink use by more than 37%. Which is massive. Just think of how much coin you’d save!
Another interesting point for small businesses it that Baskerville might even be the best font for helping you sell your products or services. It’s the most persuasive font, apparently. Yes, really. Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (legendary dude behind The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War) carried out a covert experiment on 45,000 readers of the New York Times online to try and determine the impact of a font on the reader’s perception of the believability of a statement. Those readers were shown a passage from David Deutsch’s The Beginning of Infinity in a variety of fonts – either Baskerville, Computer Modern, Comic Sans, Georgia, Helvetica or Trebuchet – and asked if they thought the statement was true or not. Analysing the data, Morris found that Baskerville conferred a 1.5% advantage towards believability.
So the next time you need to persuade your reader – to get them onside with what you’re saying or persuade them to buy your stuff – maybe try Baskerville. It will not only help you gain trust, it’ll save you 37% more ink and plenty of cash.
More small-business sustainability tips
So those are the best ink-, paper- and money-saving fonts. They’re all readily available, easy to use and do the job well. Explore your options. Start taking those first steps towards cost-effectiveness and sustainability, at least within the office. We know you’re not about to undergo a complete rebrand to use them in your customer-facing printed promo material, but you might as well try them out when you’re printing emails or drafts of reports. You can write in your preferred font, and simply change the typeface to an eco font for the printing – switch back as soon as you’re done. Anything that helps save costs – and the planet – has got to be a good thing, right?
We know you’re not about to undergo a complete rebrand to use [eco fonts] in your customer-facing printed promo material, but you might as well try them out when you’re printing emails or drafts of reports
If you’re looking more sustainability tips for your small business, head over to our blog about writing for sustainability. This post is all about how optimising your website copy can help reduce the carbon impact of your website, while keeping your customers happy. It’s packed full of guidance on how to do it, too.
Back to those eco-fonts… If you’re only printing so you can switch up formats to proofread something, save yourself the hassle and let us do it for you. We’ve got nearly 20 years’ experience, our rates are good, and we’ll make sure your document is word perfect. Drop us an email, or hit us up on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll get back to you with a quote.
The Comma Chameleon team