Easy Ways to Save Paper (and Money) When Printing

Many thanks to Lisa Mirabile, our Web-site designer, for most of these ideas and links!

Basic ways to save on paper

Rule number one: remember that you don’t have to accept the defaults on your computer

  1. Reduce the margins on your document. Instead of the using the 1-inch defaults top and bottom, maybe .75 will work just as well for you. Even adjusting the side margins down to 1 inch (from the 1.25-inch default) can be worthwhile in savings.
  2. Use a smaller type (font) size. Do you really need to print in 12-point or 14-point? Or would 10-point or 11-point work just as well? An easy shortcut for tweaking point size down is control plus ] (the close bracket character), which decreases it by 1 point.
  3. Change the line spacing; use single space instead of double. The newest version of Word defaults to 1.15 line spacing. Switching to standard single spacing can save space without sacrificing much readability. To tweak line spacing, choosing control plus 0 (zero) will add or remove 12 points of space above the line you are on.
  4. If your document is just slightly longer than will fit onto one page, use the “shrink to fit” feature that can be found in most Print Preview menu bars (on mine the “shrink to fit” icon is to the right of the ruler icon). Some browsers also now have this feature in the Print Preview dialogue box so you can shrink content to fit onto fewer pages.

Slightly less basic ways to save on paper

  1. This can vary by printer, but most have the option to print up to four pages of documents on each piece of paper by reducing them (this works well for printing PowerPoint presentations, for example, which tend to use sparse, big text on each page). Look in your print dialogue box under the Copies & Pages presets and choose Layout if it is available. It will give you options to choose how many pages of document per sheet you wish to print.
  2. Make sure the “print background images” option is off in the “print setup” for your browser.
  3. Consider switching to the landscape option in your print dialogue box if pages fit better in that format.
  4. Buy a duplex printer. These printers allow you to print double-sided sheets. They are fairly expensive (starting at about $250), but if you do a great deal of printing, the investment might be worth it in paper saved.

Ways to use less paper by printing less material

Choose only the pages you really need

  1. Use Print Preview before you print so you can determine which pages you actually need to print.
  2. If you want to print only a portion of a page or pages, you can use the print “selection” option that is usually available in the print dialogue box just below the spot where you can enter specific page numbers to print. Just highlight the portion of the document you want to print and then choose “selection” before you click on print.

Don’t print if you don’t need to!

Alternative ways to keep material

In your print dialogue box, save the document as a pdf and then keep the document on your computer without printing it out. You can also save onto a USB stick or simply attach the document to an e-mail and send it around that way.

If you don’t actually need the material to be on a piece of paper but just want to save it for future reference, consider taking a “screen shot” of the material you want to save and just keeping it in a folder on your computer. A screen shot is like taking a photograph of anything being visually shown on your computer screen at a certain point. Here is how you can take a screen shot of a page:

On a Mac with OS X: Press apple (command) + shift + 3 to capture the entire screen. Press apple (command) + shift + 4 to change the cursor to a crosshair icon. Click and drag to select an area. When you release the click, the area highlighted will be captured. The “captures” are stored to the desktop as pdf or png files, depending on your version of the operating system.

On a Windows operating system: Press the print screen key (frequently labeled as prnt scrn or something similar). An image of a single window can be taken by pressing alt + print screen. This action will copy a screen shot to the clipboard, allowing it to be pasted as an image into any of the picture-editing programs. To view and save the screen shot, open up the Paint program under “accessories,” which is under the “programs” tab in the start menu. Once it is open, go to the Edit menu and click on Paste. This will place the screen shot in the program, and it can then be saved as a gif-type file. To past from the clipboard, either press ctrl + v or go to the Edit menu and select Paste.

Want to know more?

For more info and tips on how to save paper, save ink, and help your printer last longer (all of which save you money), check out the links below.