Thursday, June 28, 2012

Comparing Apples, Oranges, and Fonts: How Changing Your Default Font Can Save You Money

In 2009, posted a blog article titled Printing Cost: Does Font Choice Make a Difference?. In the article, the author explained how individuals and corporations could save nearly 31% by switching their default font from Arial to Century Gothic. Organizations and people listened to this news, including the University of Wisconsin Green Bay and NPR. Even in June of 2012, websites and blogs continue to mention the economic and environmental impact that using Century Gothic can have.

What if this is not necessarily true today? 

Since the comparison was done, Calibri 11pt font has become the default for Microsoft Office products instead of Arial or Times New Roman. Interestingly enough, Microsoft switched the default font to Calibri from Times New Roman because they felt it was easier to read on a digital device. This switch initially aggravated some users, but today has become the new norm to home and office users.

After searching many blogs and websites, I was unable to find an updated ink usage comparison. Since it is the summer time and I have a bit of free time, I decided to do my own. 

This charts compares the ink usage of several fonts.

To find the total page coverage, APFill was used with a default paper size of 300dpi.
If you would like to see the standard page that was used, please contact me.

My results have indicated that switching from Calibri 11pt to Garamond 12pt can reduce ink usage by 27%. In addition, users who are currently using Century Gothic 10pt can switch to Garamond 12pt to reduce ink consumption by 19% and paper consumption, since Century Gothic's larger characters require more page space.

Organizations, specifically universities, could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by switching the default font on their network to Microsoft Office. I do not have a strong network administration background, but it seems that an information technology department could setup a script that could change the (Default Settings in Microsoft Word) file to Garamond each time a user logs on to the network. This would probably upset some users initially, but  the change would slowly become the norm like Calibri.

You may be curious as to why Garamond, Century Gothic, and Times New Roman out perform Ecofont Sans Vera. This is where comparing apples to oranges comes into play. Not all fonts are created equal. It is incorrect to believe that Ecofont Sans Vera is going to outperform fonts that are not similar. When Ecofont is compared to the font that it is based off of, Verdana, it does reduce ink use by 21%. Since the post was written in 2009, Ecofont has released a program that will turn other standard fonts into "ecofonts". I emailed the company about this article and they were willing to give me a free home version of the software. I plan on testing it over the weekend and having a review of the program out next week. 

What are your thoughts? Does this change seem feasible in your organization?


  1. Very nice to know. Thank you!

  2. I've transcribed the test to as the orginal isn't on the net any more.

    I have found a free test mothod without the expiry date of APFill, using the largest font test pages I could find which are on a site called AZfonts. I convert the file format to .jpeg and run them through . I haven't found a way to compare fonts from the orginal font files.

    Results vary on my .jpeg samples. A change of text, or uploading the file to blogspot and then downloading for a second test, can both change the result, so I haven't cracked the test problem in a neat way yet.