How to Reduce Your Printing and Photocopying Costs

23rd June 2021

For many organisations, the amount spent on printing and copying will make up a large portion of their monthly expenses. Between the equipment, toner, paper, and any money spent on repairs and maintenance services the equipment needs over its lifetime, the costs can start to pile up – this is especially true if the organisation doesn’t have any systems in place such as Print Management software to track and control users’ printing and copying activities. Making some minor changes to your printing processes, such as the ones we have gone through in this article, can end up saving you huge amounts of money over the long term that would otherwise be wasted on unnecessary printing expenses.

How Do I Know What Needs to Be Changed?

The first steps toward cutting your printing and copying costs begin with a thorough analysis of what your organisation currently spends on its printing processes and materials. Looking at what your current biggest expenditures are will help you to identify the areas of your printing process which could be improved, thus reducing the amount you spend on printing and copying overall. Not only does this save you money, but it is also much better for the environment, as it helps to reduce the waste of material resources like ink and paper.

What Changes Can I Make?

1. Reduce Amount of Colour Printing

Printing documents in colour costs significantly more than printing in black and white. Try to opt where possible for printing in black and white where colour isn’t completely necessary. For instance, instead of copying and printing a large report and its cover in full colour, choose to print it in black and white, printing the cover in colour only.

2. Print in Duplex

Duplex printing is when the document is printed on both sides of the page, as opposed to one. This would cut your paper consumption in half, as half the paper would be necessary to print out the same amount of information. Many printers and copiers come with duplex printing as a feature, meaning the printer will automatically print on both sides of the page without the need to manually flip them over.

3. Reduce Document Margins

Reducing your document margins in your word processing software settings enables you to fit more information onto each piece of paper, which has a knock-on effect on the total amount of pages used per printed document. Studies have shown that you can reduce your paper usage by 4.75% by reducing your printing margin preference in Microsoft Word documents from the default amount of 1.25 inches down to 0.75 inches.

4. Choose Economically-Friendly Fonts

Choosing the right font for your documents can reduce your printing costs. Some fonts use up more ink than others to print the same words, so picking your font carefully can reduce the amount of money you spend replacing your ink and toner cartridges. Century Gothic, Ecofont, and Times New Roman have been found to be some of the most economically friendly fonts, whereas Arial tends to use up a relatively high amount of toner.

5. Proofread and Print Preview Before Printing

Proofreading and checking the print preview before hitting print reduces the ink and paper wastage from misprinted documents. Use print preview to view how the document will look when it is printed out, and make sure there aren’t any layout issues or typographical errors. If the content in your print preview is too big to fit on the page, downsize the image to 80 – 90% of its original size until it fits onto the page.

6. Send Digital Scans Instead of Paper Copies

Sending a digital scan of a document saves on the ink and paper that would’ve been used in creating a paper copy. Multi-function devices often come with a scan-to-email function, allowing you to scan the document and email it straight to the intended recipient directly from the device. In addition to saving on ink and paper, another benefit of this feature is that it allows you to grant the recipient instant access to the document wherever they have email.

7. Save Documents as PDF Instead of Printing

Save documents as PDF files instead of printing them if it isn’t absolutely necessary for them to be printed out. PDF files can be sent electronically or uploaded to cloud storage such as Google Drive, allowing them to be shared with recipients instantly. This saves the paper, ink, and other resources used to transport physical documents to their recipients. All you have to do is either save the document as a .pdf file or hit “print to PDF”, depending on the software you’re using.

8. Edit and Annotate Work Online

Edit and annotate collaborative work through online software instead of creating multiple physical review copies. There are a number of programs that allow users to collaboratively edit and annotate documents. For instance, Adobe Acrobat provides tools that allow multiple editors and authors to add notations and make amendments to single documents, saving the money and resources used to print and send out multiple physical copies of the different document versions to all of the different collaborators. You can also implement a Document Management Software that performs this same function.

9. Conduct Paperless Meetings

Conduct paperless meetings to reduce the amount of ink and paper wasted on unnecessarily printing out information that could be conveyed in a paperless format. For instance, instead of printing out multiple paper copies of an agenda before a meeting, send it to the participants via email, or show it to them on a PowerPoint slide in real life.

10. Put Devices To Sleep When Not In Use

Putting devices to sleep saves the energy that’s wasted on keeping them running when they aren’t being used. Printers and copiers are electronic appliances that consume energy when they’re plugged in and left on, so switching your device into sleep mode when it’s not being used or over weekends and holidays will help to reduce your energy bills.

11. Reduce or Eliminate Personal Printers

Reduce or eliminate personal printers from the organisation and instead have fewer high-spec multi-function devices for users to share. Having several of these larger multi-function devices is a much more efficient system than having many smaller ones, in addition to being easier to maintain and offering more settings and features than their smaller counterparts. The manual for your specific models will explain how to set up their sleep mode.

12. Take Care When Pressing Print Button

Taking care not to press the print button too many times reduces the risk of incorrectly printing out many copies of the same document. Printers and copiers will stop responding to print commands when they detect that their ink or paper levels are low, and finding that the device isn’t responding, people will often hit the print button several times before realising there’s an issue. After the issue has been solved e.g. the paper tray has been refilled, and the device detects that it’s able to print again, the commands will all go through to the device at once and the user will end up with an unnecessary amount of copies of the same document. If the printer doesn’t respond after you hit print, check it isn’t something obvious before you try hitting the button again.

13. Implement a Print Management Software

Implementing a Print Management Software (PMS) would have the most significant impact in reducing your printing costs and wastage. Print Management Software manages the connections between your printer and copier devices, and optimises the whole printing process by affording you more control over the volume, nature, and access rules of your organisation’s printing and copying resources. It can help to reinforce the security of your scanned documents and saves money wasted on excess prints, colour prints, and documents printed mistakenly.