Free Ecofont Looks to Save Ink

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Colin Willems at the Netherlands-based company Spranq had an idea one day: what if an everyday font could be more eco-friendly by consuming less ink than traditional desktop typefaces? Sure, the amount of ink and toner saved on a letter-by-letter basis is miniscule, but across thousands of letters—and thousands of pages, and millions of users—the impact could be substantial.

The result is Ecofont, a version of the Vera sans typeface that has circular areas of the letters removed in order to save ink. The result looks like text that has little holes punched in it, but the shapes, outlines, and shapes of the letters have been preserved and the results are still quite readable—perhaps not a font one might choose for a novel, catalog, or marketing campaign, but it’s more than good enough for everyday printing needs like email, directions, document drafts, and quick references. According to Spranq, using Ecofont can results in up to a 20 percent savings in ink or toner—and less ink and toner consumption means less environmental impact from printing.

Spranq experimented with various techniques to reduce the amount of ink used in letters, including making the strokes of letters thinner and even using stripes. The best results, however, came from punching out small circles in the strokes of the letters: the results look a little like Swiss cheese, but print nicely at sizes of 9 and 10 points. Ecofont seems to produce the best results on laser printers, but seems perfectly readable on everyday inkjets as well.

Ecofont is available for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux, and is based on an open source type face. The font is free—although donations are welcome. Spranq plans to develop Hebrew and Arabic versions of the font as well.