Day: 7 April 2010

Revolutionary size

I’m pretty much a dork when it comes to fonts.  I always search for new and interesting (not to mention, free) fonts to load onto my computer, because you just never know when you’re going to need them.*  I also find myself trying to figure out fonts when I see them, either in real life situations (billboards, shoppe names, etc) or on the screen (credits on TV shows, movies, etc).  Yeah, it’s sad.

This morning, I came across this article about how people can save money on printer ink just by changing the kind of font they use.  In many ways, the article was quite interesting and helpful; and yes, when the article rattled off a list of certain fonts to use, I knew exactly what they looked like.  Again, sad.  But I was struck by one comment near the end of the article:

But while using less ink at home can help you buy roughly one fewer printer cartridge each year, it’s not necessarily better for the environment. That’s because some fonts that use less ink, including Century Gothic, are also wider. A document that’s one page in Arial could extend to a second page if printed in Century Gothic. Blohowiak said her research suggests that ink comprises the main cost of a printout, but the environmental costs of paper are probably higher.”Maybe the individual characters use less ink, but if you’re using more paper, that’s not so green, is it?” said Allan Haley, director of “words and letters” at Monotype Imaging Inc. in Woburn, Mass., which developed Century Gothic.

I half expected that an article about saving money would turn into a discussion about being more ‘green’ (which seems like a contradictory pun to me–is that possible?).  What struck me about this ‘changing fonts to be more green, yet it doesn’t seem to be so green’ dilemma was that the obvious solution was completely overlooked.  Before dealing with the obvious, let’s use the variables of Blohowiak and  Haley’s argument to see just how big the difference would be:

  • US Letter paper (i.e. 8.5 x 11), 1 inch margins all around, 652 words, Arial, 12-point: one page exactly. 
  • Same initial variables but with Century Gothic, 12-point: one page, and 1.5″ of another. 

Seems like Blohowiak and Haley might be onto something.  But wait a minute; here’s a thought: why not simply change the size of the font in the second instance?  (*gasp!!*)  What a revolution this would be!  Here’s what happened when I applied such a groundbreaking theory: 

  • US Letter paper (i.e. 8.5 x 11), 1 inch margins all around, 652 words, Century Gothic, 11-point: one page, and I have space for one more line of text–that’s at least 15 more words, and it’s still readable because the change was not that drastic. 

There you go, Blohowiak and Haley; problem solved, greenness maintained.  Now, where’s my medal for alleviating this environmental crisis?

* For the work I do, that’s hardly ever.