14-Year-Old Figures Out That Bad Fonts Cost the Government Hundreds of Millions

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The U.S. government could save up to $370 million a year by switching fonts, from Times New Roman to the thriftier Garamond according to 14-year-old high school student Suvir Mirchandani. 

Update: It seems there are some flaws in Mirchandani's theory, which you can read about here. The font switch, while clever, many not make much difference after all.

Speaking on HuffPostLive, Mirchandani explained that he first came to study cost-saving fonts as a means of reducing the resources used in his middle school: 

I thought about paper and I thought about ink. For paper, we have these paper recycling programs, dual-sided printing, all to reduce paper cost and paper use. But on the other hand there's ink. I haven't really heard about much to conserve ink use -- and it turns out that ink costs almost six times as much as paper does. So I thought it would be really interesting to see a project that could reduce ink use. I also noticed that some fonts use more ink... so I decided to look into that for my science fair project. 

Mirchandani decided to look deeper into the issue, per CNN

Collecting random samples of teachers' handouts, Suvir concentrated on the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r). First, he charted how often each character was used in four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Then he measured how much ink was used for each letter, using a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software. Next he enlarged the letters, printed them and cut them out on cardstock paper to weigh them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font.

He found that between Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans, Garamond used the least ink: 

From this analysis, Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.

Mirchandani's teachers were so impressed by the project, understandably, that they recommended he submit his findings to the Journal of Emerging Investors Investigators (JEI) an academic journal for middle- and high-school students. The JEI editors, in turn, suggested he apply his findings to the U.S. government. So he did, and found that the government's $467 million annual printing budget could be significantly reduced if it abandons pretentious, wasteful Times New Roman. If just the federal government switched to Garamond, the budget would fall by $136 million per year, and if local governments also switch to Garamond, they budget will drop by an additional $234 million per year. Just by going from this: 

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Pretty simple, huh? You'd think that the U.S. government would welcome the easiest possible way to save costs. Plus, Garamond is the poet's font, apparently:

And About.com called it a "timeless beauty" and "readable."

So will the government consider this modest proposal? Sadly, no. The greatest engine of waste in our country won't commit to making the change because it is trying to print less paper. "In 1994, we were producing 20,000 copies a day of both the Federal Register and Congressional Record. Twenty years later, we produce roughly 2,500 print copies a day," said the Government Printing Office's Media and Public Relations Manager Gary Somerset, non-relevantly. And that's why nothing ever changes. 

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