Saving money with type

Published in Economy by

Dutch type designer Gerard Unger once designed a typeface, Gulliver, that currently saves American newspaper USA Today some 10 million dollar in paper costs per year. Now an American teenager tops the headlines claiming the US government can save 370 million dollars a year in printing cost just by shifting to Garamond typeface.

Saving space and ink while not compromising legibility is a major topic among type designers. Dutch graphic and type designer Gerard Unger is a particular specialist in this field. In 1993 he designed Gulliver, a typeface specially made for newsprint that looks much larger than a type like Times in the same size. To produce the same impression of size as 10-point Times, Gulliver needs only to be printed in 8.5-point.

Seven years later Unger was able to prove the effectiveness of the Gulliver font, when American newspaper USA Today decided to switch to the letter. In the new design the newspaper was able to print the same amount of text on a smaller paper size, thus saving 10 million dollar in paper costs a year.


Recently 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani, a middle school student in Pittsburgh, hit the newspapers with his claim that the American government could save up to 370 million dollars per year, would it decide to start using Garamond typeface instead of the commonly used Times New Roman. According to his calculations the federal government could save 30% on its annual cost of ink of 467 million dollars – around 136 million dollars. An additional 234 million dollars could be saved if state governments in the US would do the same.

Great story, although Fast Company had some comment on the calculations. The US government could probably do better if they paid a visit to Gerard Unger. His Gulliver typeface was tested at the Leiden University where Unger was professor of typography between 2006 and 2012. Using the font saved the university 25,000 kg of paper. Combined with careful typography many of the university’s publications could be cut to half their size, while still perfectly legible.

The university thus saved 8-10% on its overall production costs. With an annual printing expenditure of 1,8 billion dollars, the US government could save up to 180 million dollars a year with a talk to Unger.

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