How to Save Money on Printing Costs

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Fun With Fonts

Another simple way to save ink is to use a font that requires less of it. A popular study from found that Century Gothic uses so much less ink than industry-standard Arial that a company printing 250 pages a week would save about $80 a year by doing nothing more than switching fonts. The more professional-looking Times New Roman was nearly as cost-effective. You can update the default font in Word through the Change Styles drop-down, and in Outlook through Tools > Options > Mail Format > Stationery and Fonts.

Free Refills

PCWorld has conducted significant research into the question of third-party ink cartridges, and the bottom line is that, in most cases, prints made with off-brand ink were as good or nearly as good as their brand-name counterparts. In the case of text and other black-and-white prints, we detected virtually no quality differences. If you need the very best quality from glossy photo prints, investing in OEM ink may be worthwhile. But most people, particularly those who print text, can get by with third-party ink, which can offer a cost savings of up to 70 percent.

Two Printers Can Be Cheaper Than One

It’s a paradox, for sure, but having two printers in the office can be an easy way to save money on printing. How? Dedicate one printer to black-and-white printing, and the other to color. The former should be a high-speed, workhorse laser printer, and the latter should be a printer that you use only for photos.

Never use a photo printer to print black-and-white documents.
Laser printers, while far from perfect, are considerably cheaper to use than inkjets. Laser printers' per-page printing costs are highly variable (as are inkjets' costs), but a price of 2 to 4 cents per page is about average--and less than you’ll pay with even a conscientious inkjet. Lasers are also much faster--which means you and your staff waste less time waiting for jobs to finish--and produce better text quality.

The trick, of course, is making sure that employees don’t accidentally use the wrong printer for each job. Help them to avoid that error by giving your printers custom names like 'COLOR ONLY $$$' and 'BLACK & WHITE', and ensuring that the laser is everyone’s default printer.

Extreme Measures

What if all of the above fails? What if your staffers simply can’t curb their printing habits?

One drastic solution, not to be embarked upon lightly, is to take the printers away. You can start by banning individual printers on users’ desks. Workers are less likely to print something if they have to get up and walk to the printer to fetch it. You can also place networked printers near the location of the office manager, or whoever is in charge of maintaining and restocking them. People who get dirty looks because they’re printing too much are likely to self-regulate their usage over time.

With few exceptions, no employee needs a dedicated printer on their desk.
Pushing the envelope further, you can start banning printing altogether, at least one day a week. No, seriously: Every Friday, for instance, unplug the printer and lock it in a closet. The complaints will be fierce and furious, and you will hear considerable begging that I have to print this boarding pass right now, but it won’t take more than a few weeks for employees to figure out how to survive without the printer one day a week. (Remember, businesses have taken far more serious measures, turning off the phones or email system periodically, and they've managed to get by.)

From there you can go even further. Turn the printer off two days a week, or even three days. You’ll know when you reach the breaking point, but if your business can get to the point where the printer is off more than it’s on, you might be able to ditch the thing altogether.

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