Saturday, 3 January 2015 : Does font choice make a difference?

Printing Costs: Does Font Choice Make a Difference?

Did you realize you can actually cut printing costs just by choosing another font? Even with everyone looking for new ways to save money, it’s doubtful most people have considered the font they use for letters, reports, and notices, but you can actually save 31% on your ink cartridge costs just by picking the right font. recently put this notion to the test using two popular printers. The Canon Pixma MP 210 was picked to simulate the printing of private users while the Brother HL-2140 laser printer was used to test business use. Both printers were left at their default settings (600 by 600 dpi). Changing only the font resulted in saving between $20 and $80 per year.

Arial, reigning as the most popular font, was used as the “zero” measurement, against which nine other fonts were tested. The clear winner was Century Gothic, which returned 31% savings in both printers. For the average private user, printing approximately 25 pages per week, this will easily generate a net reduction of $20 in a year. A business-user, printing approximately 250 pages per week, could save $80. If your organization uses multiple printers, you can save hundreds of dollars per year doing nothing more than picking a more economical font.
Century Gothic is a modern font that comes standard with MS Windows. Surprisingly, it even beat Ecofont which was specifically designed with efficiency and cost in mind. For those who require a more “traditional” look, Times New Roman provides a good balance between style and savings.

Details of the research:
• 10 frequently used fonts were selected.
• The font size (10 or 11) is relative. Font size was chosen in such a way that the page filling for all fonts in the model letter was virtually the same.
• To determine the coverage, the model letter is saved as PDF file. This PDF is calculated by the software pfill, which calculates the coverage of the specific font.
• To determine the cost of a private user per year, the inkjet printer “Canon Pixma MP 210” was used with 25 printed pages per week.
• To determine the cost of a small-business user per year, the laser printer “Brother HL-2140” was used with 250 printed pages per week.
• Both Canon and Brother publish the number of printed pages with a coverage of 5%. Through interpolation, the costs have been calculated for other coverage rates if the sample letter would be printed with other fonts.
• For the Canon printer, calculations are based upon a black cartridge PG-40 with a retail value of roughly $17 In case of the Brother printer calculations are based upon a black cartridge with a retail value of $30.
Photo credit: borman818
>> Listen to an NPR report about the U of Wisconsin’s switch to Century Schoolbook (2 minutes)
The values of the research are approximate values that are based on the model letter. Actual situations can be different. makes no warranties or representations whatsoever with regard to any product, information or calculation provided or offered by any manufacturer, e-store or merchant; and you hereby expressly acknowledge that any reliance on any representations and warranties, whether provided in writing or otherwise, provided by any e-Store, merchant, vendor or manufacturer will be at your own risk.

A similar test was done using apfill here:
The table of results is more complex than needed, but does quote more fonts than

The test covered a few other points than coverage.
Apfill software gave different result on a mac or a pc, and about 8% higher than a manual estimage.
Test documents can be done for a specific purpose. The school test document had a lot of underlines in it because teachers use them in handouts: the character quoted after "z" is underline or underscore.'s “ Printing Costs: Does Font Choice Make a Difference? ” :

  1. You can also just change the font size or the line spacing, or the margins.
    Or if you’re really concerned about saving ink/toner, just stop printing.
  2. [...] reminder that we all should do what we can to conserve. Saving ink by choosing a more efficient font is a good start, but it’s only the beginning. Here are five more ways you can green your [...]
  3. Using those tiny little sans serif fonts are great for people with great vision, but perhaps not so great for older readers, and by older I mean anyone over forty.
    Sanserif fonts like Arial are grand for headlines, not so good for the body of the text. Sure you’ll save some money, but you’ll wear out the reader. Those little tails, the serifs, on fonts like Garamond help lead the eye along.
    If you’ve just printing tons of crap and you don’t think it matters if anyone reads it, then hey, use Helvetica. But if you are writing something important or worthwhile, OR, if other people are compelled to read it, then don’t make them suffer to save yourself a couple of cents.
    For the body of text, Arial sucks.
  4. Ellen,
    If you want to use a serif font, you’ll notice from the chart that Times New Roman (a serif font) handily beats out Arial in efficiency.
    Arial sees such widespread use primarily because it’s the default in programs like MS’s Word and Internet Explorer. But Century Gothic is far more efficient in terms of ink usage.
    I myself prefer Garamond as well. It’s just a friendlier font that invites the reader’s eye to peruse the page. But when efficiency counts, like for drafts and things, I think I’ll probably switch to Century Gothic. Buying all those ink cartridges really bites you in the wallet!
  5. Umm.. if you’re *really* thinking about saving cash, and don’t need serifs, check out
    They’ve taken a very plain font and punched tiny holes in all the glyphs in such a manner that it doesn’t detract from readability.
  6. Unbelievable!!!! Do you mean tell me, that smaller type uses less ink and is therefore less costly to print? I’m stunned, and I’m one of those older readers who’s looked at a lot words, and was earlier so rudely referred to by another contributor to as being “older readers”. A designer friend of mine would often tell me that, “… and printing with larger type uses more ink Michael, ergo it cost’s more to print….” I would laugh and call him a fool, telling him he had been over educated at his fancy education place and lost all common sense. But according to your test the joke’s on me. Now I owe somebody one rather large apology. Please excuse me.
    Also for your information, those little tails, stressed lines, sagging umlauts and dots at the ends of the letterforms, all mean that you’re printing in the German.
  7. I select all and change the color of my text to dark gray before printing drafts. It makes my ink go a lot further.
  8. Is there additional data available for more font/font sizes? I would like to see more comparisons at the same font size. Specifically Century Gothic & Ecofont at 11 against the Arial and Time Roman at 11.
    Thanks, Gary
  9. There is reasonable doubt in the testing done.
    I too would like to see the comparisons at the same font size. Changing the font size would change the amount of ink used Until the font sizes are the same this test does not prove Century Gothic is cheaper than Arial because the fonts sizes are different.
    The reason for changing the fonts to 10 point vs 11 point was for filling the page. The test should be done so all words fit on one page with the exact same words for each font. This would be an accurate test to prove which font saves money.
    By using Arial at 10 point I might save more money than with Century Gothic, but this test doesn’t give me those numbers.
    With my preliminary testing I found using the same point size for Arial and Century Gothic and having lengthy text. I would use more paper with Century Gothic. The exact same text at the same point size fitting on a page with Arial would flow onto a second page with Century Gothic.
  10. Brian,
    Do you ever use EcoFont? I am curious as to how this compares.
  11. Kimm,
    I don’t myself, but if you check on our table, you’ll see that even EcoFont came in second to Century Gothic.
  12. I printed the same sentence in six different fonts to get a subjective look:
    Consolas 10.5, Century Gothic 10, Calibri 11, Times Roman 11, Arial 11, and Ecofont 10. Consolas 10.5 is the default plain text email font at our college. Our default html font is Calibri 11 which according to test results in the article is about 9% more wasteful than Century Gothic 10. I think the point size differences are understandable since some fonts run small or large. Subjectively I liked Time Roman 11 for the combination of clarity and ink efficiency (in the top three along with Century Gothic and Ecofont). I am surprised it is that good in ink efficiency. I’m looking into it and considering changing to this as the default font for our college to give the best bang for the buck with the least ink.
  13. Brian,
    "The test should be done so all words fit on one page with the exact same words for each font"
    That is exactly what they did by changing the font. I agree that it is not entirely scientific though. What they should have probably done is figured out a way to "shrink to fit" everything on one page and done the test that way.
    Its tough but I’m sure there is a way to make an exact comparison. Basically you want the same word count per page regardless of the font size. They were closer than just using the same font size across all fonts in this experiment but it seems to be a bit more of an "eye-ball" measurement than some kind of math calculation.
    This is a great start though. I brought this up in our stuff meeting this morning and everyone got really excited about it.
  14. Brian,
    Why change the fonts if you can optimize the amount of ink used to print all fonts, graphics, and images?
  15. That’s an incredible saving for just a simple font change. Interesting that the makers of Star Trek Enterprise used it as a “futuristic” font – did they know something we didn’t 
  16. CHADARIUS I agree with you.
    Print using GARAMOND. Try it out and you will experience savings on ink and paper.
  17. Since Century Gothic letters are wider than those of Arial, you will be using more paper as well as the text will have to flow onto additional pages. I don’t see that calculated into the cost.
    On a one-page document that won’t matter, but in a book, that can mean many additional octaves (pages of eight, which is the standard for books), which is more expensive.
    Has anyone priced that?
  18. Has anyone noticed the real cost savings has more to do with printer selection than font?
    I’m no math major and I hope I’ve calculated this correctly but:
    Based on the studies’ assumption of 25 pages/week home use and 250/week for business when using any of the fonts the Canon is roughly 260% more expensive than the Brother:
    For Century Gothic:
    Canon – $0.0356/page
    Brother – $0.0137/page
    Even using Franklin Gothic the Brother is only $0.022/page. If the target is to save money buy a printer with cheaper ink, then use the most efficient font for your document needs. For the life of me cannot understand why printer ink costs $5,200 / gal. (Canon – 11ml = $15) other than we have been conditioned to pay it. Color is over $8,400 / gal.!
    If you want to be green forget the ink, focus on the paper.
    Sometimes I think the printer companies picture us with a big sucker sign slapped to our backs. Maybe they\’re right.
  19. I assume that these tests were done with font that is BLACK. What about (also) changing the font color to a dark gray?
  20. The figures shown apply if the text doesn’t fill the page. For a longer document like a book or short story, at a common size such as 9pt (in which most non-large-print books are printed), a “wide” face such as Verdana or Garamond will take up the shown percent of the paper, but use more total paper, and probably more ink overall, compared to Arial or Times New Roman, respectively.
  21. What about Bookman Old Style 12 pt? A lot of US military offices use this as a standard. A cheaper font could save a lot of ink and money.
  22. Please, check Courier New! I love that font, very simple and precise which allows for crisp reading of forms / school papers. Takes up more space than Century Gothic (so also get me an axe…) but doesn’t seem any thicker in the lines.
  23. 1) It is different to use size 10 or size 11.
    2) Size matters but some fonts use more ink. Valhalla says "…but doesn’t seem any thicker in the lines", correct, and also says "Takes up more space than Century Gothic", but that is in the horizontal not in the vertical.
    Please, check Courier New.
  24. How about non-readily available fonts like Avenir, Futura, and Helvetica Neue?
    [Futura is a lot like Century Gothic, but slightly condensed]
  25. Very interesting article. Just curious though – as a desgner, I would like to know how the beloved Helvetica font stacked up to the top ink saving fonts listed?
  26. What would be the cost for Sans Serif 10 PT? This is our company default font, would Century Gothic really save much?
  27. so if i am reading the chart correctly, Century Gothic saves $80 per year given 250 pages, compared to Arial.
    What if I print 1000 pages per month, is that $320 per year?
  28. Mr. Griffith (April 7th, 2010 at 5:03 pm) makes a good point when he asks about the additional costs of using more pages.
    I am currently working on a 140 page document, which is in Arial font. When I switched to Century Gothic, the number of pages increase to 150.
    That’s a 7% increase in the number of pages, which is not negligible.
  29. Well, I have to say that I enjoyed reading all of the comments! I’m with and I thought I’d comment on a few of the things raised here:
    The request to test additional fonts has been heard, loud and clear! Our original testing was done about a year ago, and since then the Ecofont has been redesigned, and I now know that people are in love with various
    To those discussing the fact that different font sizes can have an impact on readability and the length of a document– of course you are correct. I think the thing to keep in mind is that we conducted a controlled test, which has to make certain assumptions and must keep certain aspects of the test constant to get meaningful results. Our results should only be used as one piece of input into your decision about what font to choose for your particular document. Just as there are hundreds (thousands?) of fonts to choose from, there is no single answer to the question “what font should I use in this document?”
    To the person commenting on the fact that the choice of PRINTER is more important than font to save money while printing, you certainly have a good point. That’s one of the reasons we created, so that we can expose the true cost of ownership of a printer, taking into account usage and the cost of ink over several years. I personally have found that buying a “cheap” printer is not so cheap in the long run. These “cheaper” printers tend to have much smaller ink cartridges, therefore you have to change cartridges more often. Even if the smaller cartridges are marginally cheaper than bigger ones, over a several year period you can find yourself spending WAAAAY more for ink than if you had purchased a more expensive printer (with larger cartridges) to begin with.
    Bob Crum
  30. Hi all, to get things straight. Ecofont is not just ‘redesigned’ . Ecofont started 1,5 year ago with a proof of concept with which we put holes in Vera Sans by hand. As legibility was still very well we decided to develop Ecofont into software that shoots holes in EVERY font. By installing Ecofont software you add an Ecofont print button to your toolbar with which you can print directly with holes in the font you are working with at that moment. So with Ecofont software you will also be able to cut down on ink usage when using Century Gothic. We make the most saving font save much much more!
    Ecofont software will be available end of June.
    Kind regards,  The Ecofont Team
  31. I shall continue to use Microsoft comic sans no matter where it falls in the ink usage annals or tests or ………
  32. As Brian pointed out, Century Gothic uses more paper then Arial. A quick check on my PC shows that using the default 1″ margin settings in MS Word 2007 it would take about 10.1 pages in 10 pt CG for every 9 pages in 10 pt Arial. Using Open Office Writer with its default .79″ margins, the ratio is about 8.2 pages in CG for every 7 pages in Arial.
  33. This is a nice Windows-centric test. Nothing about other excellent fonts like DejaVu and Liberation.
  34. Times Roman is the best for reading on the paper!
    Arial and other serf fonts are on the other hand better for screen reading.
  35. Well, I really didn’t understand the second point (about the font size and the "virtual" page filling).
    Of course the space occupied is something defined by the font itself, and also by the font size. But if we compare different fonts, i think a better hypothesis should be the same font height (due to readability) and not the number of page occupied.
  36. Recent tests colleagues have done show quite clearly that ECO font compared to Times New Roman uses 47% per cent MORE ink (and more paper) and if the ECO-font is reduced to the same size as the TNR it still uses 25% per cent more. The guy who did the tests has contacted the ECO SPRANQ people for their comments and has received no reply. I would love to see the test results done by the ECO font people.
  37. Nobody mentioned COURIER, to my opinion, the most economical font because it it so thin. What do you think?
  38. I too would like to see Courier comparied. It seems if I take any document using any of the above named fonts and change the font to Courier 10 (10-spaces/inch) and print from WP60 (yes I'm a dinosaur) I use less paper, and the print color is lighter, and the lines seem thiner. I use both WP60 and WP12, when I open the document in WP12 it changes the font to Courier New and the document is typcially about a page longer.
  39. Would it be possible for me to get a copy of the study? With the detailed data/results? I’m looking to convince my company to change default font in all of our programs.
  40. Again, thanks to all of you for your great comments.
    I wanted to let all of you know that we at have discussed an additional round of testing, Phase 2, and we believe that we will do this. We are looking at all of your suggestions of what fonts we should test. In addition, we want to wait for the new Ecofont, which apparently won’t be available until the end of June. So…stay tuned.
    Also, the test we did last year is not available in any form that we could make available for download. We didn’t anticipate that need, and didn’t prepare for it. However, we are looking at a brief we could create for this Phase 2 testing. Again…stay tuned.
    Bob Crum
  41. Really nice topic i must say but the studies should have been more wider. It should have been not only about the "virtual" page filling but the same height with different fonts to see also the paper costs of increase by using another font. Like Pete W and Michael already said, the amount of paper on small documents might not increase that much but on really big documents like instruction manuals for machines it would be a great difference. And if you make the font too small on a printed document just to save paper it will just stress the reader of such a manual.
    So those studies should be extended to analyse also the font change in relation to the paper usage.
    With kind greetings
    P.S.: Sorry if my english might be a little bit difficult to read or wrong sometimes for native speakers. I’m from germany.
  42. For webmasters (and those who think they are) providing a way to either create a PDF of an article, or providing a "printer friendly" view option is a huge help. The other issue is to make sure those options readily evident. And, by the way, it would be nice if the printer friendly view can show comments or not at the users option. (Note this page does not provide it.)
  43. The comparison is good, but can you also do a price comparison b/w genuine and compatible ink cartridges? Surely one way to save money wold be to use a compatable or refilled cartridge too.
  44. Much more effective than changing fonts:
    Print less – The less you print the more you save.
    Write less – edit your documents. Most texts are too wordy.
  45. You should really check your source better bob.
  46. Just a couple more replies:
    To Preston:
    Yes, of course, printing with compatible or remanufactured cartridges is certainly a way to save money over the use of OEM cartridges. Some people even elect to refill their own cartridges with ink and toner, thus saving even more. It is up to individuals to determine if this is something they would like to try.
    To Yordan:
    Our original testing was done in early 2009, and this blog entry was posted on April 13, 2009. At that point in time, the only Ecofont was the “original” one, which is explained in the last paragraph of the link you provided. Since that time, the Ecofont people “…decided to develop Ecofont into software that shoots holes in EVERY font.” The entry you reference was posted by the Ecofont people recently, after the story about the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay broke, so I don’t think it’s a matter of “checking sources” better, but rather taking into account the timeline of what has happened. The new Ecofont software will be availble in June, and we are contemplating how it could be included in our “Phase 2″ testing that we are considering.
  47. How do you change the font on the printer. I got a new computer, but I need help.
  48. It’s a “Kodak Moment”, to steal the tag line from an old TV ad. Not only are their printers competitive price wise, their ink is excellent and their replacement ink cartridge prices are significantly lower than anyone else and they aren’t much more than refill prices at your local drugstore to boot.
  49. Interesting study, lots of great comments, can’t wait for the new study! As for Ecofont…anyone have any idea how shooting holes in fonts will affect documents that have to be machine read or 2d barcodes?
  50. Please be sure to look at the cost of ink on the extra pages that will print for some fonts in Phase 2 of your testing.
    I’m not sure it was clearly stated in the comments above. Let’s take the example of 140 pages of Arial being 150 pages in Century Gothic. If I read it right, 140 pages of Century Gothic at 3.45% coverage is cheaper than 140 pages of Arial at 5%. But I had to print an extra 10 pages. That is 10/140 more pages/ink. The percentage to use for cost savings, if I’m doing this right, is 3.45 + 3.45 * 10 / 140, or 3.45 + .25 or 3.7%. That makes it more like $49.68 for the year.
    Thus I don’t think you can ignore this in order to get accurate meaningful results.
  51. I don’t think people or businesses have the mind set to start changing fonts around.
    the simplest solution is to use toner / ink saving software like or PretonSaver.
    it will save up to 70% of your toner and ink usage, i use Pretonsaver.
    I don’t know about ink saver, but pretonsaver has a free trial.
  52. Has anyone bothered to do a test with ALL fonts in a uniform point size?
    I would, specifically, like to know how Arial 10 is vs. Century Gothic 10… Not 11 vs 10 like in the chart.
  53. Does it save on disk space too?
  54. Century Gothic is a nice font–clean and easy to read. If it is going to help save on printing, then I am going to go for this tip. Thanks for sharing!
  55. The free Ecofont vera sans has evolved into software that shoots holes in your fonts.
    It works with your current fonts, so no need to change your docs or house style. You can also print Century Gothic in Ecofont style for the ultimate saving.
    It doesn’t matter if you have a HP, Ricoh, Xerox, Canon, Lexmark, Oki, Lexmark, Samsung, Sharp or any other printer/copier. You can save more than 25% toner on all devices.
  56. Have you considered printing with a lowered alpha value? That is, slightly transparent rather then 100% black?
  57. Century Gothic hurts my head. It’s spaced too widely apart. Courier New is even worse to read IMO. I do a lot of proofreading / editing. My eyes prefer a denser font. I have preferred Calibri, and like Helvetica too, but now will check out the eco-font thing. I just discovered affordable home-use b/w laser printers, and will start relying on it. My inkjet multi-machine tanks dry out and require replacement even if not used to print. 90 percent of my printing is text anyway.I intend to go to thinner paper as well. In the rare instances where I must submit in a specific font, I will write / proofread in my chosen font, then convert to the required font prior to submission / printing.
  58. I’ve been using inksquirrel from for a while now. It looks like Arial, but save about 30% of the ink or toner and doesn’t use as much paper as Century Gothic. [ no record survives of this site or anything called inksquirrelfonts on - January 2015 ]
  59. You can also turn the printer to draft this uses a lot less ink, and the cartridges last almost twice as long. The print quality is not as good but it’s fine for internal work.
  60. Fantastic advice Bob. I hate arial, it’s so boring. Century Gothic is a favourite of mine but only really for headings. My favourite for nomal text is calibri so it’s great to know how much money I’m saving.
  61. I have done some updated research and identified Garamond as a superior font.
    To learn more, check out my post.
  62. Garmond12pt can reduce consumption 27% compared to Calibri 11pt.
  63. Century Gothic is the clear winner of your test its little brother Century Schoolbook is reputed to be still more efficient. Nevertheless, if I look at the result given by the calulator of What-the-Font, Arial is more efficient than Century Gothic and a little bit less efficient than Century Schoolbook. This is contrasting with the results of your test (The curious thing is that for the other fonts mentionned by the results are more or less consistent with the ones of the calculator). Is there a logical explanation to these really different results? Thank you in advance for your explanations
  64. We use Xerox WorkCentre (model 5638, 4150, 5655, 7345) PCL 6 printers in our offices and I would like to know how font style and size VS paper compares on these printers.
    It there a way to know the results or has there been a study done on this?

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