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Reduce your printing costs - it's not just about cheap ink cartridges!

Printing can get expensive if you use your printer all the time, not just the cost of the ink cartridges, but the paper too.

Here are a few practical tips that you can use to reduce your printing costs by cutting down on wasteful printing. If you have your own tips you'd like add, please share them in the comments.

Print on both sides of a sheet of paper

If your printer has a feature called duplex printing, it means you can print on both sides of a sheet of paper during a print job. Of course if your print job is just one page or less then you won’t be able to use this feature.

Even if your  printer didn’t come with the fancy double sided printing function there’s no excuse. If you’re just printing for your own reference then make a tray for keeping one sided documents in (after you’re done with them of course) and each time you need to print something that’s just rough or for your own reference, take a sheet from your new A4 scrap paper tray and feed it into your printer.

Most printers are fitted with a single sheet feeder which is commonly used for feeding special paper and envelopes through the printer and you could use the single sheet feeder for putting through a single sheet of scrap paper, or you could load the main paper feeder. On smaller domestic inkjet printers there may be only one document feeder that serves all of these purposes.

Reduce your font size when printing text

Big text is great, it’s easy to read and makes your documents look great. But do you really need to print your draft documents in a large font? Dropping your font size by a few points will cut your ink costs considerably if used consistently. You can easily increase the font size for your final output.

If you find smaller text difficult to read and you need to print in a larger size for proof-reading your drafts, then consider proof-reading on the computer screen. Most modern wordprocessing software provides a zoom function to make it easy to scale your document up to make it easier to read on the screen.

Change your font

Fonts (also known as typefaces) provide a great way to style documents, but fonts are not all equal. Fonts like Arial or Helvetica will use less ink than a serif font like Times Roman (serifs are the embelishments on the corners of the letters).

You can easily change the font when you print the final document.

Don’t be bold

In a similar vein to the preceeding two tips, this one’s simple: don’t use bold text, or underlines for that matter until you’re printing the final draft. Remember, the thicker and bigger the text, the more ink you are using.

If the idea of saving all of your document formatting until the document is finished sounds too daunting, when you’re ready to print just create a copy of your document and in that copy, change the font, the size, remove the formatting and the whole document is suddenly lighter and fewer pages in length. Happy printing!

Use print preview

The Print Preview mode allows you to preview your document before printing. Make it a habit to always check the Print Preview, look for unnecessary paragraph spacing (why use three blank lines when one will do), look for blank pages at the end of the document. All these little tweaks can add up, and could save you a sheet of paper – or more!

Print in draft mode

You’ll need to refer to your printer manual or the software that came with your printer for this one, but many printers provide a “draft mode” for printing. When printing in draft mode, the printer uses less ink and so you won’t get crisp black text, but if the printout is just a rough draft then this could be a real money saver.

Narrow your margins

Margins are the white spaces at the top, bottom, left and right of your document. It’s logical that the bigger your margins are, the less space there is for text and so more pages will be needed. Check the Page Setup settings in your wordprocessor.

You will need to play around with the margins to see what works with your printer – very few printers support borderless printing for documents, so you will need to have a minimum margin (often around 150mm or 1.5cm for left and right margins).

Think before printing

We’ve all seen that little green message at the bottom of emails – “Think before printing - please consider the environment before printing this email”.

How often do you print and then realise the document wasn’t required, or find that you’ve printed more than you wanted? Taking just a few seconds to consider what you’re printing, why you’re printing and checking that you aren’t printing anything you don’t need could have the biggest impact on your printing costs in a year – particularly if you regularly print order confirmations and receipts only to find you’ve also printed five pages of terms and conditions.

We can’t have covered all the ideas here, do you have your own tips you want to share?