Saving the government money through bogus bullshit

This kid is suggesting that the government print documents in Garamond rather than Times Roman, in order to save paper and ink. What he’s missing is that Garamond is a smaller font and the thin strokes in Garamond are too thin, reducing legibility. He’d be better off keeping the Times Roman, with these changes:

A slightly smaller size
Slight condensation
Slight tightening
Allow kerning and ligatures
Slightly less leading (vertical space from one line to the next)

Using these subtle changes, the same effect can be achieved without sacrificing legibility.

Hey, if I remember correctly, Johnny Inkslinger was able to save nine barrels of ink over a winter by not dotting his i’s or crossing his t’s. So don’t laugh off ideas like this…

Give the kid a break, man! He’s only 14 and I’m betting hasn’t had to deal with font legibility of this sort yet.

I agree with your overall point (except that I fucking love Garamond and strongly dislike TNR ;)), but I think he did an interesting experiment. More importantly, I’m impressed that he thought outside the box in terms of reducing printing costs. Everyone and their gramma tries to reduce the amount of paper used, but looking at ink is clever, since it’d reduce the cost of a single page form/printout, too.

Is Garamond less legible than Times New Roman? From what I understand, the federal courts have switched from suggesting Times New Roman to Century Schoolbook to increase legibility, at the expense of using more paper. TNR was designed to be compact for the narrow width of newspaper columns. Further tightening and shrinking things seems like it would hurt legibility more than switching to Garamond, which was designed, as far as I know (it was a long time ago), for line lengths more commonly found in books. Looking at an old McSweeney’s magazine I have lying around, as I happen to know that Dave Eggers sticks to Garamond (and one specific version thereof, although I don’t recall which) it looks perfectly legible. I mean, there’s got to be a reason it’s lasted close to 500 years.

Well kudos to the kid but the within-the-box mantra of “If it’s not really necessary to print it, then don’t print it.” is really the better approach.

I used to work for a company that built filing systems for companies in the finance and medical industries. The small insurance companies in our area would take up three or four floors of an office building (guesstimate about 12 two-car garages per floor) just to house the disputed claims paperwork. That kept us in business for years, supplying shelving and folders and labels and eventually lateral-rolling shelves and so on.

Now the judicial system allows electronic evidence. For most of our cases, the company I’m with creates a CD-ROM containing all the paperwork that would fit on four feet of shelving for 8.5" x 11" pages. We give to the court administrators, the judge, the opposition lawyers and our own lawyers one CD each. That would be a lot of paper if we had to make photocopies for everyone involved. Instead, it’s maybe 20 disks. Now, admittedly, those disks sit in landfills for a long time.* However, we didn’t waste the trees, or the ink/toner, or the electricity to print all that evidence (for each of the recipients), and we didn’t waste all that petrol in hauling all those pages to the courthouse. And we’re a workers’ comp company so we’re rather conscious of the fact that we didn’t strain any lawyer’s back by making him/her lift all that paper in and out of the car.

And, even then, we get a ton of paperwork from medical offices and brokers and clients, etcetera. We get enough to fill a four-foot wide shelf at each clerk’s desk. Each time I go to fix someone’s computer and see a clerk with a frown on his face as he riffles through a two-foot stack of papers, I say, “Ain’t it great to be in the 21st century, working in a paperless society?” :dubious:

The future: It’s taking a long time to get here.

*And maybe, when they’re allowed to purge the case material after the case has been closed for ten years, there will be some neat technology for destroying those disks in a safe, confidential, and planet-friendly manner.

I never fail to get a laugh by intoning “Theeee paperless office of the future!” in my best VO tones.

At least the government is now addressing the question. Whether his particular recommendation was right or wrong (and I’m impressed with the measurement he did), the government will save some ink in the future by considering alternatives.

This article backs up everything panache45 says and then some: the savings don’t pan out if you equalize for text size. The kid deserves applause for trying, but if the Facebook reaction is any indication, people (and the press) need to be skeptical about stories like this.

[Ned Seagoon] In order to save paper, ink and money I shall immediately reprint all of my existing documents using Garamond. Gad! There’s efficency for you! /[Ned Seagoon]