Cutting services is not the only way to reduce government spending


300-Adobe-GaramondFrom recently published reports, Historic City News learned that the State of Florida could save as much as $234 million annually — by doing something as simple as changing the font of type used in printing forms and documents.

As St Augustine’s conservative source of weekday news, we continue to lead by example when we call for the elimination of government waste — by not creating a paper mountain at the Tillman Ridge landfill or destroying the environment with ink contaminants. We have always been an electronic publisher, and we always will be.

“What’s the most commonly used letter in the English dictionary?” Do you know, asked Historic City News editor Michael Gold. “It’s the letter “e”. Try to imagine it printed millions of times on thousands of forms and documents, and then think of how much ink would be needed to complete that task.”

When you consider that the cost of printer ink is about twice the cost of French perfume, and that using a type font, like Garamond, with its thinner strokes, could reduce ink consumption by as much as 24% on letters like “e”, with the volume of printing still done by government, the cost reduction is significant. According to the General Services Administration, the Government Printing Office makes annual printing expenditures of $1.8 billion — so, potential savings are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to published news reports, after realizing he was getting a lot more handouts than he did in elementary school, a 14-year-old Pittsburgh-area sixth-grader, Suvir Mirchandani, decided he was going to figure out if there was a better way to minimize the constant flurry of paper and ink. His experiment, which evolved into his Dorseyville Middle School Science Fair entry, tested the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r).

Using a computer program available at his school, Suvir tested documents printed using Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and the Comic Sans typeface. He enlarged the letters, printed them on cardstock, and then weighed them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font. His analysis showed that his local school district could save about $21,000 annually. Suvir repeated his tests on five sample pages from documents on the Government Printing Office website and got similar results in each case. The findings were clear, change the font, save money.

Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office, who was contacted for this report, said that efforts to become “more environmentally sustainable” on the federal level were focused on shifting content to the Internet.

“In 1994, we were producing 20,000 copies a day of both the Federal Register and Congressional Record,” Somerset reported. “Twenty years later, we produce roughly 2,500 print copies a day.”