The unexpected impact of switching fonts

Middle school student Suvir Mirchandani, discovered the US government could save a combined $400 million just by switching fonts used in printed documents.

It all started as a school science fair project. Suvir was looking for ways to reduce waste and save money in the Pittsburgh School District. Fourteen-year-old Suvir wanted to study the fonts most commonly used in the abundant amount of school handouts he received daily, and from there he used a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software to find out just how much ink was used to print each letter.


What he discovered was amazing. The school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually just by using a different font when printing school documents. With encouragement from his school teacher, Suvir attempted to publish his findings in the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI). His submission was reviewed by graduate students and academics and Suvir was challenged to apply his theory on a larger scale by reviewing US government documents.

Suvir repeated his test on both state and federal government documents and found similar results. By changing fonts from the usual Times New Roman to Garamond, the Federal government could save $136 million per year and state level departments could save $234 million.

Since the surge in media coverage of this story, font and typography experts have stepped forward with evidence to disprove the validity Suvir’s theory. Although switching fonts may reduce the amount of ink and paper used, it comes at the cost of readability.