Tech tips: Smart printing

Mac laptop and printer on a desk at home

When you think about printing, or preparing a document that may be printed, think about ink use (and wastage).

Reading on screen has many benefits over printing endless documents, but for some things, we prefer to have a hard copy to look at, or share with a colleague. Different people also absorb information differently, and a document you think of as an electronic resource may, to a colleague, be something to print.

It’s a good idea to remember this when designing documents – even PowerPoint documents, which although used as presentation tools, are often circulated as information resources.

This means it’s good to avoid using large blocks of colour, or large images, unnecessarily. Some colour use may be template-driven, but where it isn’t, think about whether it is needed, and what value it adds. You may be able to achieve what you want with a smaller image, flashes of colour, or outlines rather than block colour. To create emphasis, italics may be just as effective as bold type, and will use less ink.

Printer cartridges can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, so by reducing ink or toner use, you are helping the environment, as well as reducing costs, and saving on trips to replace quickly-emptied inkjet cartridges.

If you are printing a document yourself, there are a few things you can do to minimise your use of toner or ink:

  • Pause to consider if you really need to print it
  • Only print the portion you need
  • Use print preview to identify pages that would be ‘wasted’ printing – such as section dividers that are block colour and don’t include meaningful information
  • Investigate printing options eg black and white, greyscale, or printing in ‘draft’ or ‘eco’ mode. Only print to the level needed for your usage.

Also, don’t forget the the University’s guidelines on printing, data security and secure document disposal, especially if working from home. And for printing at home, do the right thing and recycle your used cartridges. You can find out more about contributing to sustainability at the University’s Ecoversity pages, including advice on cartridge recycling on campus.

Tagged in printing, ecoversity, documents, design, Working from Home