Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Different Kind of Change

And now for some non-Obama change, though I admit I don’t know where he stands on the issue of word processor margins. From the Washington Post:

A project founded by Los Angeles-based actress and writer Tamara Krinsky advocates a simple change that anyone can believe in: By altering the printing margin preference for Microsoft Word documents from the standard 1.25 inches to 0.75 inch, Americans can save a whole lot of paper -- and trees, and money.



Hat tip, Marginal Revolution – where you’ll also see some interesting discussion in the comments:

No! This is a false savings. Wide margins make the text width smaller, which increases legibility. Compare nicely typeset books with slapped together business reports. Human attention is scarce, paper is cheap. If something is worth printing, it is worth printing with good margins. A better way to save paper is to not print documents that will not be read.

And there’s more,


Go further! Change your margins to .75", single-space, and use aa 9-point font. Set your word processor to 2-column mode. Then send everything to the printer double-sided.

This isn't only a matter of saving paper. A standard 1.25" margin with a 12-point font has too many characters per line to be efficiently readable. Increasing the margins to .75" makes readability even worse. I fear a backlash. But if you treat the design problem as a whole, you can get crisply readable lines while saving whole reams of paper.


Maybe when I get a free moment, I’ll tinker with my own margins.

1 comment:

crossons said...

Validation! In the web world, it's considered very poor usability to have long line length - ever wonder why there are so many 2- or 3- column websites? Nice to have someone else support this, even if it is for print! :-)