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14-Year-Old Proves U.S. Can Save $370 Million by Changing Fonts

May 21, 2014
Font nerds, get ready to rejoice. Typefaces aren't just fun — finding the right one could make a huge difference to the nation's bottom line.

Changing the standard typeface used by federal and state governments could save the United States roughly $370 million a year in ink costs, according to a peer-reviewed study by Suvir Mirchandani. The best part of the story? Mirchandani is just 14 years old.

It all started when Mirchandani, a student at Dorseyville Middle School near Pittsburgh, Pa., noticed that he was getting a lot more printed handouts in class than he used to in elementary school. He wondered how wasteful it was, and then discovered just how expensive ink is. At up to $75 an ounce, he points out, it's twice as expensive as Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Using software called APFill Ink Coverage, he calculated how much ink was used in four representative fonts — Century Gothic, Comic Sans, Garamond and the default choice of most word processors, Times New Roman.

The ink-preserving winner: Garamond.

Changing Times New Roman to Garamond on all handouts, Mirchandani calculated, would save his school district $21,000 a year. But he didn't stop there. Encouraged by teachers, he applied his calculations to the U.S. government's ink budget, which runs to $467 million a year.

In a paper published in the Journal for Emerging Investigators, Mirchandani lays out how switching to Garamond would save the government $136 million a year on ink alone. If you add up all the publications produced by U.S., the annual savings rise to $370 million.

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