January 18, 2010, 12:04 PM — One idea to help save some money on printing came from Jim Lippie of Staples Network Services in response to reading this series. His idea? Reduce the size of the margins on your pages, effectively increasing the number of words you can print. Good idea, so let's see where it's appropriate.
First of all, apply this trick to internal documents only. Customer documents must make the best impression possible, so let the flow and design of the printed page dictate margins, not the cost of a few pages of paper. Unfortunately, too many users print with the same margins everywhere and on every page, leaving money on the table (or in the printer).
Many word processors and other applications set an inch margin or more for printed pages. Most printers can get within a quarter inch or less of the edges of the page. Set margins to a half inch and you'll pack more words per page, meaning fewer pages in a document, meaning less cost per report. You can't stretch paper by pulling it, buy you can stretch it by pulling the printed area a bit wider and taller.
Check your font, too. If your company has a standard font, you may find different fonts that put the same amount of words with the same level of readability into a slightly smaller space. Take a document, copy the same paragraph over and over, and set each to a different font and size. See if a different font will give you good readability yet make room for a few more letters per line.
You can carry this too far, however, and ratchet the font size down to that of a phone book (about 5 points). Employees will start squinting, and realize they need reading glasses. If management is really cheap, they'll plan for the employees to buy reading glasses with their own money and save the company some money by reducing font size. But don't get so carried away. The new Sherlock Holmes movie created a run on those huge magnifying glasses Holmes used to see tiny things, like 3 point type.
Tweak the margins for internal documents immediately and save some paper, Check the font and size, and carefully consider if a change there will save enough paper to justify the slight bit of retraining time for workers. If you can get the most prolific document creators to make these changes, others will follow easily and fairly quickly.