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10 Tips to Reduce Printing Costs and Paper Use in Schools

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In the current economic climate, all schools are trying to find ways of economising without compromising educational standards. Naturally, material resources are the first place to look for money saving options.

1 million paper usage statistic in schoolsRay Fleming, Education Marketing Manager for Microsoft, says schools often spend more on printing than they do on IT. Up to one million sheets of paper are being used per school, per year and a further £60,000 is spent on photocopying. So what can be done about it? Here are ten easy ways for schools to save money – and the environment – by reducing their printing and paper usage.

1. Choose an Economical Printer

It is easy to choose printers based on manufacturers’ claims about speed and quality, but you need to be considering other features if you’re looking to cut costs. Firstly, you need to research how expensive the ink cartridges are to replace, and whether high-capacity versions are available. Standard cartridges may cost less in terms of the initial outlay, but high-capacity cartridges allow you to print more pages, and for a school, where high volumes of printing will be required on a daily basis, high-capacity cartridges can work out up to 30% cheaper.

Does it even have to be a colour printer, or will a black and white one suffice? These are not only cheaper to buy, they will also save you money when it comes to replacing ink cartridges.

In addition, how energy efficient is the printer? A printer with lower energy consumption will save your school money on its electricity bills.

For more advice on choosing the right printer for your printing needs check out our infographic, “Choosing the Right Office Printer

2. Match the Quality of the Paper with the Quality of the Document

Thick, high-quality inkjet and laser printer papers are great when you need to impress, but they’re not cost effective to use every day. Paper comes in a variety of grades, usually starting at 60gsm and going up to 160gsm. While 60gsm paper will not produce results of the same clarity as higher grade papers, it is perfectly adequate for most everyday printing in schools, and is a great deal cheaper to buy. Research by the WWF suggests that switching to 60gsm instead of 100gsm for everyday usage could save you 47% in paper costs. It is worth saving your paper of 100gsm and over for the occasional really important document, rather than allowing students to use it every day.

3. Control Printing Access

Setting up individual user profiles on school computer is a sensible idea if you want to save money. As each teacher and student will be required to log in individually, administrators will be able to identify the main culprits who are printing too readily! These days a lot of the management software used by schools also allows limits to be placed on the amount an individual or group can print. Raising awareness that unlimited print resources are not available will cut down on wastage due to all users checking their documents more carefully for mistakes before printing them. Teachers can also keep an eye on students’ printing activity by enabling or disabling printer access to certain classrooms and/ or individuals.

4. Always Check Print Preview First

Print Preview is an effective, and often underused, money saving tool. It shows you exactly how a document will look when it’s printed, so it makes it easy to select just the parts you need to print, rather than the whole document if you don’t really need it. For example, if you are printing a resource material directly from a website, it will allow you to check whether you will be printing out blank pages with nothing but the web address on at the end! It also allows you to determine whether or not you really need the colour in the printed version, or whether monochrome will suffice.

5. Consider Digital Over Print

With today’s advances in digital technology, there really isn’t the same need for paper consumption as there has been in the past. Encouraging students to switch to digital media can drastically reduce paper consumption and printing costs. Ways of doing this include:

  • Encourage students to save resources from the internet onto pen drives rather than printing them out.
  • Allow students to email their work rather than handing it in on paper. Teachers can then mark it online and email it back to negate the need for printing altogether.
  • New technologies such as cloud storage can be a great solution, particularly for group projects, as they allow documents to be saved and shared between multiple users online. All users with permission can then edit the documents on their computers with no need for paper usage.

6. Print in Duplex

Nearly all printers these days have a Duplex setting, which enables you to print on both sides of the paper. While this will not be suitable for all documents, such as letters, for everyday classroom printing it is a simple and effective way of saving money, as, if it is used for most documents, it could reduce your paper costs by almost 50%. Setting all printers to Duplex as the default setting is easy and will not take long, and could save your school a lot of money. It is also worth saving any paper previously printed on one side and no longer needed, as the reverse can be used as notepaper.

7. Print Multiple Pages Per Sheet

Most software packages, including Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat, have a setting that enables you to fit two or even four pages of text onto one sheet of paper. Activating this setting can double your print economy or more, while still being legible. Also, if you use a lot of PowerPoint slides in the classroom and print them out as course materials, select to print them as Handouts instead of Slides. This automatically prints six slides per page instead of one. This simple change, in combination with printing in duplex, could result in as much as a 92% saving in paper usage.

8. Reduce Font Size

Reducing the font size you use for documents is a very simple way of saving your school money, as naturally, the smaller the font, the less paper and ink it will consume. Switching from a twelve-point font to ten will make a surprising difference, while still being perfectly clear to read. It is also worth considering which font you use as a default. Some fonts, due to their thickness, consume more ink and paper than others. A Which? survey discovered that the most economical font is Times New Roman, which on average produces 44% more prints from an ink cartridge than Verdana. Century Gothic also came out well, using less ink than Times New Roman, but its wide letters mean it uses more paper, so overall Times New Roman was the best choice.

9. Print in Draft Mode

Setting your printer to Draft as the default setting will drastically reduce your ink consumption without reducing the appearance of basic documents too much. It automatically reduces the resolution at which it prints documents to 300dpi, which is perfectly adequate for everyday classroom printing. The name varies from one manufacturer to another – it may be called “Toner Save” or “Economy” but it can usually be found under the “Paper/ Quality” tab in “Properties” on your printer settings. An added bonus to draft printing is that it can also increase print speed!

10. Print in Monochrome

Does your document really need colour, or will black and white suffice? Colour printing can cost up to 10 times more than monochrome, as colour cartridges are more expensive than black. To save the maximum amount of money, it is worth setting your printer to print everything in monochrome or greyscale, as often, even if a resource looks black and white to you, in order to try and match the exact shade of the original, the printer will still use the colour cartridges when it prints.


11. Use a Managed Print Service

A Managed Print Service (MPS) can actually reduce your printing costs, as most offer packages of a set rate per page printed, which includes the hire of printers, ink and toner, in addition to labour costs. Many also offer emergency call-out, which can seriously save you time if anything goes wrong. Knowing the actual cost of every page printed can help your school to forecast and budget more effectively. Find out more about MPS here.

By implementing these tips in your school, you should notice considerable savings on ink and paper, at the same time as educating the next generation about saving the precious resources of the planet.

For advice on choosing the right printer for your printing needs check out our infographic, “Choosing the Right Office Printer

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