Want the government to spend less money? Place your vote for a new font

Printer ink is expensive. Like, really expensive. And if you’ve ever had to replace your own ink cartridge, you’re well aware that the stuff is basically liquid gold.

Well, it turns out that some printer ink is even more expensive than most people realize. In fact, one ounce of the stuff can cost as much as $75!

Keeping that in mind, it’s no wonder the government spends nearly half a billion dollars per year on the stuff. That’s right, the US government has an annual ink budget of $476 million.

But it doesn’t need to stay that way. A 14-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pa., took the time to look at how different fonts impact ink use. And guess what? A few clicks to select a new font could save the US government hundreds of millions of dollars.


A story on Mashable said that Suvir Mirchandani began wondering how much it was costing his middle school to print dozens and dozens of handouts for his students. In an effort to help lower those costs, he tested four different fonts and how much ink they use. The verdict came back and the often standard Times New Roman was not the winner.

The lesser known Garamond came out on top and Mirchandani projected it could save his school a cool $21,000. But, as you’re already aware, he didn’t stop there. From Mashable:

Changing Times New Roman to Garamond on all handouts, Mirchandani calculated, would save his school district $21,000 a year. But he didn't stop there. Encouraged by teachers, he applied his calculations to the U.S. government's ink budget, which runs to $467 million a year.

In a paper published in the Journal for Emerging Investigators, Mirchandani lays out how switching to Garamond would save the government $136 million a year on ink alone. If you add up all the publications produced by U.S., the annual savings rise to $370 million.

The government obviously has a pretty enormous budget, but $370 million is no small chunk of change. Thankfully, it seems like the government has taken notice of Mirchandani’s work. Mashable said CNN reported that the media manager for the Government Printing Office called the analysis “remarkable.’’

Remarkable, indeed. But maybe the government should be a little more active about finding ways to save money instead of waiting for middle schoolers to do all the leg work.

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