Teenager: Printing Everything in Garamond Could Save Government $400 Million

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Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 29 2014 1:31 PM

Teenager: Printing Everything in Garamond Could Save Government $400 Million

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Copies of President Barack Obama's budget proposal are seen in stacks at the Government Printing Office on April 8, 2013

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Most people don’t give a second thought to fonts. We just use one we’re comfortable with and get on with our days. Turns out though, picking the right font could save you lots of cash. That was the conclusion 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani came up with when he analyzed his school’s ink and font usage and came to the realization that ink consumption could be cut 24 percent by switching to Garamond, reports CNN.

Mirchandani went on to publish a study in the Journal for Emerging Investigators, where he took on a far larger target: the federal government’s $467 million annual ink budget. And his conclusion? Switching to Garamond could save the government $136 million per year, while state governments could save $234 million as a whole if they also followed the lead. CNN talked to the PR manager at the Government Printing Office, who called the study “remarkable” but was unwilling to commit to changing fonts. Still, even if Mirchandani doesn’t get the government to change its ways, he’s hoping others will listen: "Consumers are still printing at home, they can make this change too."

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Update Monday, March 31: Fast Company offers a rather persuasive debunking of Mirchandani's claims: "Using less ink might cost the government slightly less money, but it's not going to come from switching to Garamond. Garamond's letters are smaller at the same height as other fonts, making it less legible at the same size when printed out." Read the full detailed rebuttal here.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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