I was heavily influenced to write on this topic, since I’m always amazed at how much people are still printing in this “digital age.” While I was musing on this, I saw an excellent article in PC World on some tips to save some money during the printing process. (http://www.pcworld.com/article/129141/six_savvy_ways_to_get_more_prints_for_less_money.html)
While those tips are great, there are a few more that I wanted to touch and a couple I’d like to augment.
First off, I’d encourage you to consider cutting back on printing in situations where you don’t really need to print. Especially, if you have some sort of digital device that you can carry the information you are printing with you, there’s no need for you to have it on a piece of paper. This obviously won’t work for everything, but pause just before you print and consider whether you really need what you are about to print in a hard copy.
While PC World’s article focused on ink, and with good reason since that is the most expensive part of printing, you can save money by thinking about the paper as well. The most effective one for me is to print on both sides of the paper. I see a lot of paper wasted that is only used on one side. If you are just printing out directions or something you won’t need for very long, why not print it on the back of something you were going to throw away anyway. I keep a box of discarded paper ready for printing near the printer and when I’m printing something for my own use, that is where I go first. I’ve saved a lot of money on paper just by using that very simple tip.
Finally, while PC World recommends FinePrint, many of your programs will do this for free without having to pay $50 to a software company. In Firefox, you can use the Shrink to Fit option in Print Preview to get started to try to fix the text in one page, however, I usually have to manually customize the size to get it just right. In Microsoft Word and in OpenOffice (which I plan on discussing in a later entry), you can print multiple pages to a single page using the page preview options. It takes a little bit of practice to get the settings right, but it should pay dividends in the long run.
Finally, I will re-emphasize PC World’s suggestion of draft mode. If you aren’t printing out something for presentation, this switch alone will save you quite a bit of ink depending on what model printer you have.