8 Cost-Cutting Printing & Copying Tips To Consider (+ Infographic)

piggy bank with ink printer cartridges

(7-min read)

Printing and copying can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to make these practices cheaper than they are. By establishing some cost-cutting company-wide printing protocols, your organization can save some green both monetarily and environmentally. 

Tip 1: Reusable Forms To Be Scanned

Depending on the industry, there may be a myriad of forms that are regularly filled out by hand by patients, clients, and employees. These days, most handwritten paperwork is scanned immediately into a digital database with the paper copy thrown into a file. While these paper hardcopies provide a reliable backup, most sit in space-hogging filing cabinets and are rarely accessed. Unless legally required, multi-tiered digital backup has rendered these hardcopies nearly obsolete. One way to kill two wasteful birds with one stone is by scanning reusable forms. 

By laminating common documents and having the patient, client, or team member fill out the form or checklist with a fine-point dry-erase pen, these forms can be scanned for digital use. After scanning, the documents can be wiped clean and ready for use all over again.

Tip 2: Enact a Duplex (Double-Sided) Print Policy

If your team is printing or copying multiple-page documents, but only utilizing one side of the paper, you’re essentially throwing whole sheets of paper away. Enacting a double-sided printer policy (or “printing in duplex” as it is sometimes referred), the amount of paper used will drop dramatically. The U.S. Government enacted this protocol and reported in 2013 that they saved $61 million a year

The easiest way to enact this protocol is to require duplex printing as the default setting within Microsoft Word, in all printer systems, or other document-centric programs. These adjustments can also be made on company printers, copiers, and multi-function devices (MFDs). 

Tip 3: Select Fonts That Use Less Ink & Toner

Not all fonts are created alike (especially not Comic Sans — which can make any budget proposal look like an advertisement for a lemonade stand). Some fonts are toner-guzzlers while others sip ink. To get started finding the most efficient and eye-soothing font, your team can select your favorite eco-friendly fonts and create an organization-wide printing font protocol.

While making these fonts an optional recommendation may not result in the amount of buy-in you’d like from your team, including these in your style guide may ensure their use going further. 

Tip 4: Use Lighter Copier or Printer Paper

Believe it or not, there is actually a difference between copier paper and printer paper — about 4 pounds-per-ream difference. Not only will this mean you spend less money on paper, but hauling it around will be that much gentler on your back.

Tip 5: Make a Habit of Using “Print Preview” Before Every Print-out

How many times have you printed out a document only to be surprised by what hits the tray? Either the text is too small, the graphics are skewed, or the advertisements from the article decided to hitch a ride onto the paper. While you can simply adjust the settings and try again, this second-try is an immensely wasteful practice—especially since you’re likely not the only one guilty of this. 

An easy way to remedy this situation is by making a habit of utilizing the “Print Preview” function on the device from which you’re printing before every print. Though this seems like yet another step in the process, it only requires a few moments to eliminate surprises in the tray. Any time “lost” is more than made up by the number of reprints you avoid and the printer wear or consumables that likely would have gone straight into the recycling bin (you do recycle, right?). 

Tip 6: Adjusting Margin & Spacing Protocols

Though the optimal user experience for a web page urges loads of white space (space between text or graphics), printing documents in such a way is incredibly wasteful. By squandering precious paper real estate, you’re essentially begging to increase your paper bill. Unless you’re purposefully printing a double-spaced document with ample margins for the sake of jotting in notes and critiques, you may consider instituting organization-wide margin and spacing protocols. 

If you plan on doing this, it is also crucial to double-back to Tip 5 to make sure the printed document comes out the way you intended.

How to adjust page margin settings in Microsoft Word.

How to adjust page margins in Google Docs.  

 

Tip 7: Defaulting Printers & Copiers to Monochromatic (Black & White)

Habit experts suggest that one of the best ways to eliminate a bad habit is by creating friction between one’s self and the adverse impulsive action—in other words, making bad habits a hassle. For many companies, workers printing in color when it’s not necessary is a bad habit they would like to snuff out. A natural form of friction that can be applied is by adjusting default printer or copier settings to monochromatic—also known as black and white. Though a team member can opt to change the settings and print or copy in color, the added friction it takes to do so may be all it takes to make them reconsider the necessity of such an action. 

Related

Though color copies and printing may be more expensive, the price difference may still surprise you: Print Myths: Color Copies & Prints Are Much More Expensive

 

Tip 8: Create an Organization-Wide “Does This Need to the Printed?” Checklist

Because many employees aren’t footing the bill for copies or print-outs, they may default to wasteful copier and printer habits. Some guilty habits include (but are not limited to) printing out presentations that will already be on a screen, unsolicited materials for others (and that will probably never be read), and basically any other action that triggers the impulse to click “Print” before asking one’s self, “Does this really need to be printed?” 

To curb impulsive copying and printing, you may consider developing a checklist to help team members pause and contemplate their behaviors, such as:  

  • Will this document also be featured on a screen during a presentation? 
  • Could this document be electronically submitted to its intended recipient?
  • Will this document likely take up more space (in a desk drawer or immediately thrown away) among its intended recipient following its useful lifespan?
  • Can this document exist solely in digital form without any legal consequences?
  • Does the recipient have the ability to print this document on their own, if they so choose?

does this need to be printed infographic

Do you like this infographic? Feel free to download the full-size PDF version.

If most of these questions can be answered in the affirmative, the document probably does not need to be printed. 

In Summary

To sum up the points we’ve covered, some great ways to save money and resources on copying and printing include: 

  • Using reusable, easily scannable forms
  • Enacting a duplex printing or copying protocol
  • Selecting fonts that use less ink and toner
  • Using lighter copier or printer paper 
  • Utilizing “Print Preview” before every print-out
  • Adjusting your printer margin and spacing settings to conserve pages 
  • Setting printer and copier defaults to black and white
  • Creating a company-wide “does this require printing?” checklist