How to Print on a Computer and Save Environment

Only the page that doesn’t get printed is eco-friendly or green. In reality, however, this level of eco-friendliness and sustainability has yet to be achieved. Many of us, especially businesspeople and college students, can’t always avoid printing – no matter how environmentally conscious we are. However, we can all print less if we put our minds to it. To help you do that, we have prepared five actionable and easily implementable tips on how to print on a computer and at the same time save environment.

1. Preview the Document before Printing

Paper is very often wasted because people don’t take the time to preview their documents before printing.

Previewing the document can save you time and potentially lots of trees.

It can help you to spot possible flaws in the resulting printout, but also opportunities to save more paper. For example, you can recognize that it would be perfectly fine to decrease the font size, or use a more narrow font, or decrease margins, or shrink graphics, and so on. All this might seem insignificant, but can really contribute to saving trees and energy.

If you’re new to using this handy feature, here’s how to access the preview option in MS Word 2013 (the same for Excel and PowerPoint). Click the File Tab or keyboard shortcut Alt+F and choose Print to open the printer properties and settings. On the right of the screen you will see how your document will look exactly once it has been printed out.

preview the document for printing

2. Extend the Margins on Documents

Extending the margins allows you to fit more text on each paper sheet. Not all documents are printed for binding. As a matter of fact, many of them aren’t – they are mostly used once and then shredded. In such instances, you can quickly change the default or custom margin setting to the narrowest possible. So, it’s a good idea to keep the purpose of the document in mind and remember to adjust margins before hitting the Print button.

narrow margins

3. HOW TO Print on Both Sides of the Paper

Double-sided (duplex printing) is a proven tactic for reducing paper usage. Not all  printers support duplex printing, but most allow users to manually print on both sides (when prompted, turn the stack over and feed it to the printer again). If you print a lot and if manual printing on both sides seems like a lot of trouble, then investing in a printer with duplex printing capabilities is a cost-efficient and certainly environmentally-friendlier alternative.

how to print

4. How to Print Only the Pages You Really Need

This one is pretty obvious, but it is also easily overlooked. It takes effort to check the page numbers of pages you actually need to print, to memorize or note them down (in your preferred note-taking program!), and then type specific pages, custom ranges or sections in print settings. However, trees and our environment are worth it!

5. Go Paperless with Electronic Sharing and Digital Archiving

People who opt to print their Word and Excel reports, or even PowerPoint presentations, over sending electronic files often do it from fear that their documents will look different when opened on another computer. However, this obstacle is very easy to overcome: simply print your Excel spreadsheet, Word document or PowerPoint presentation to Printable Document Format a.k.a PDF, for sharing purposes.

PDF is a universal file format which ensures that everyone can view and use files just as you wanted them. You can save the document as PDF directly from the Microsoft Office application. Optionally, you can use a more comprehensive PDF printer with advanced functionalities like creating secure, password protected files, adjusting print quality settings or adding metadata without hassle. One such advanced virtual PDF printer is Free PDF Creator.

PDF is also an excellent format for digital archiving purposes. The advantages of digital versus old fashioned, hard-copy archiving are numerous:

  • you can make as many “copies” of the PDF as you want to backup your data
  • search files and retrieve the info you’re looking for far more quickly
  • reuse and repurpose old, archived reports and other docs without having to retype everything, and so on.

And now it’s up to you to share with us your tips and tricks for environmentally-friendly printing!