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Teen Suggests Government Could Save Millions by Changing Typeface

by Sean P. Aune | March 30, 2014March 30, 2014 12:00 pm PDT

Garamond font

Could changing the font used on documents save the U.S. government hundreds of millions a year? One teenager seems to think so.

Suvir Mirchandani, 14, last year launched an intriguing study for the Dorseyville Middle School science fair last year: How much money could be saved by simply changing the font used on documents. In an appearance on CNN this weekend, the teenager discussed his findings, and they’re somewhat startling.

Using the amount of paperwork generated by his school alone, he studied the most commonly used letters in documents – e, t, a o and r. He then printed out those documents using the fonts Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans and measured how much ink each document used with a commercial program called APFill Ink Coverage Software. To verify his findings even further he printed everything on card stock and then weighed them to see if there was a different in physical weight. Once done, he took his findings to the school district and estimated it could reduce ink consumption by 24 percent and save an estimated $21,000 annually by simply changing the font from Times New Roman to Garamond.

Mirchandani didn’t stop there, however. At the behest of his teachers, he submitted his findings to the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI) who were shocked at what he presented. The peer reviewers suggested he apply it to a much larger project which was when the U.S. government came in to play. With an annual printing budget of $1.8 billion, the young sleuth chose five official government documents from the Government Printing Office website, and he came up with the same findings.

The General Services Administration estimates the annual expenditure of ink comes to $467 million and by switching to Garamond it could save $136 million. If you add in all of the state governments, an additional $234 million per year could be saved of governmental budgets.

Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office has commented on the findings referring to them as “remarkable,” but stopped short of making any commitments to the government making the change.

As for those of you in the work force, you may want to bring it up with your boss come Monday morning and see if you can’t wow them with money you just saved the company.

CNN

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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...


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