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Paper wastage in printing is an issue that always bugged many industries, whether they are aware or unaware about the wastage, which can have an impact in environment and economy. According to a study, a typical service industry worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper for printing every year, or one sheet every 12 minutes. And you’d surprised to find out that 90% of those printed papers are only used for a short while; the majority of them will be discarded without being reuse. Thus, to avoid and reduce such unnecessary wastage, there are some software built to assist the computer user to print smart, which will be introduced later in part 2.

Before going into the software that can assist in smart printing, there are a few techniques/tips for everyone which can be applied prior to any printing in order to reduce paper wastage:

  • Ensure the printing is definitely necessary: It is not surprising that most of the paper wastage is caused by the unnecessary printing, either at home, school, or working place. For example, part of the wastage is caused by the webpage (which does not have a printer-friendly option) printing that usually has some unnecessary elements printed on the last few pages. Thus, do consider and ensure the printing that you are going to do is definitely necessary, and look for an alternative besides printing (eg. e-books on mobile phone, pdf etc.).

  • Printing technique: Besides that, there are a few minor printing techniques that can be easily applied just before the print, but unfortunately most of the users aren’t aware of them. Below are some techniques that can definitely help in reducing paper wastage:
    • Double-page printing/Duplexing: Most of the people tend to print using a single-page mode, which definitely can contribute to paper wastage, since the blank side usually become useless. While it is inevitable for formal documents such as official contract or thesis, just to name a few, but duplexing is strongly recommended for the printing meant for self-usage or for informal sharing. It has been found out that one can potentially reduce at least 30% of the paper wastage per year if duplex printing is selected as the default printing option.
    • Multiple pages per sheet: I believe this option isn’t a stranger to most of the computer users, especially those who always deal with PDF document. Most of the PDF readers, such as Foxit Reader or Nitro PDF Reader have such an option for the user, and this is definitely one good technique in reducing paper wastage, ink wastage, and printing cost. However, most of the users do not prefer to print the documents using this option because they find that the text size is a little bit too small for them to read. While it might be true for some documents produced with small font size, I find that the document with standard font settings (Times New Roman, 12) printed with ‘2 pages per sheet’ still having a very high readability, not to mention that each printing can help to save 50% of paper usage, compared to usual printing. A similar option is also available in Microsoft PowerPoint, but it is definitely not user-friendly and environmental-friendly, and we will see why in Part 2.
    • Content editing: Most of the time, when an article is printed, especially from a webpage, it will have the unnecessary elements from the website printed on the paper as well, such as images, advertisement texts, unrelated contents etc. This can hurt the trees a lot as those unnecessary contents printed are contributing to paper wastage. So one way to reduce the wastage caused by the content is of course – content editing. For example, if the necessary part from the article is the texts only, try to copy and paste all the contents to a word processing software, then remove all images and unrelated texts, which can end up with a clean article with better readability and more printer-friendly. Although the editing may take some of your precious time before the printing, but the outcome definitely worth it.
    • Print Preview: Print preview can provide the user an idea on what is going to be printed out, and it is available in most of the document processing software (eg. Microsoft Word), and also in printer driver level. Although it is just a preview without editing capability, but this is another technique that can possibly help in reducing paper wastage, especially in eliminating  misprint of documents.
    • Print into digital format: Since it’s first release in 1993 by Adobe Systems, PDF, or Portable Document Format has became one of the most famous document digital format in many industries. There are certain times that one might wanted to save a page or two from a website for future reference, so besides printing them out in hard copy, one can also print (or save) them into digital form, such as in PDF, which can be accessed faster in the computer, and reduce unnecessary printing. There are already tons of software and web tools that can assist the user in converting the desired content into PDF documents, so this technique is very easy to be applied by every users.

All the above tips/techniques should be able to help in reducing the paper wastage, and I hope you find them useful. In part 2, I will be covering some software (free and paid versions) that is specifically built to assist the user in smart printing, and assist our readers in choosing the right tool at the right cost to reduce paper wastage. Meanwhile, if you have any other tips or tricks in smart printing, don’t hesitate to let us know, I am sure the readers would like to know them as well.


Copy This! Results of the Citigroup-Environmental Defense Partnership to Improve Office Paper Management (New York: Citigroup and Environmental Defense, November 2004) <http://www.edf.org/documents/4138_Final%20Citigroup%20report_11-1-04.pdf>

About ghost301

Biomedical Engineer graduate in Malaysia, currently Software Application Engineer and UI/UX Designer in Materialise. Graphic Design/UI/UX/Tech/Formula 1/Gadget/Android/iOS Enthusiast. Windows Guides writer (www.mintywhite.com) and run Techie Talkz.

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4 thoughts on “Print Smart to Reduce Wasted Paper – Part 1 [How To]”

  1. Alan Douglas 500 says:

    Good suggestions. Especially useful is the print preview, and, my personal favourite, the PDF file. AS mentioned, there are a number of PDF conversion tools out there. One that’s particulary good is the “Save As … PDF” function of MS-Word — it creates an excellent, very compact PDF file. Others are not as good, but still create PDF files: I’ve found that Adobe Acrobat [$$$] creates large files compared to some other tools (NitroPDF [$] and PrimoPDF [FREE]) and Snag-IT, a screen capture utility, can create PDF files as well, but they are extremely large. As an example, I took a 30-page document that our Exec Admin created in MS-Visio and converted using Acrobat … When I ran it through NitroPDF, the resultant file was 10X smaller than the Acrobat version, but was still an exact copy of the Visio document. If you don’t need the full power of NitroPDF, you can use it’s little brother, PrimoPDF, which is FREEWARE and creates the same compact file as NitroPDF. One caveat when using ANY PDF converter — Use Adobe Reader to open the newly-created file to ensure that it really is a standard format PDF file. There are some PDF “converters” (some at exorbitant cost) that take some liberties with the file, resulting in a corrupted PDF.

    1. Taylor Ling says:

      Thanks =). Agreed on what you said, I’ve tried tons of PDF printer and found Primo PDF is still the best for every conditions. Microsoft Word’s PDF engine works the best when the document deals with some image/graphic effects in the Word 07/10; it is able to render the shadow very well if compared to the other.

  2. Himal says:

    Thank you for these tips.

  3. Staffen says:

    I agree you. Papers should not be wasted. I use to print on both of the sides of a papers. Even the government has also taken this decision that a person can take the digital records of anything and he don’t need to carry paper documents for that.

    Reference: NeedA Shredder

Comments are closed.

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