Impressive work by a 14-year-old kid. You should read the article, but Suvir Mirchandani did the research and the math and determined that US governments (Federal and State governments combined) could save $400 million dollars per year by switching from Times New Roman to Garamond. That $400 million is just for the cost of ink (compared to Garamond, Times New Roman requires more ink to print the same text).

Here’s an example of Times New Roman:

Times New Roman

Times New Roman

Now the same text, same point size, in Garamond:



Clearly, Garamond uses less ink (and less space). The article didn’t mention it, but switching to a professional OpenType font with optical kerning and standard ligatures would help a lot, too. At least in terms of saving space. And being super-classy.

Same text, same point size, using Garamond Premier Pro with optical kerning and standard ligatures:

Garamond Premier Pro with standard ligatures

Garamond Premier Pro with optical kerning and standard ligatures

Despite Mirchandani’s findings, I wouldn’t expect the government to be making the switch any time soon. The cultural and societal implications of a move from Times New Roman to Garamond are enormous. Don’t get me wrong; I use Garamond as my go-to serif, and would only use TNR if I was forced to. But Microsoft made TNR the standard “default” font for computer typesetting, and its ubiquitous use has made an indelible impression on the cultural subconscious. TNR represents stability, tradition, conformity, even normalcy. If you open up a legal document, Times New Roman just FEELS right. Garamond, on the other hand, feels more erudite, delicate, and refined. A legal document set in Garamond doesn’t have the same feeling of authority and authenticity.

To put it another way, asking the US Government to switch from TNR to Garamond is tantamount to asking Americans to use British spellings (e.g. colour, centre, organisation). It’s still English, of course, but it doesn’t FEEL right to an American eye.

The other difficulty, of course, is that any document created today needs to be legible both on the screen and on the page. Garamond reads just as easily as TNR on the printed page, maybe even slightly better. But TNR is easier to read on the screen. From that perspective, a switch to Garamond doesn’t make sense.

Personally, I cast my lot in with Calibri. Microsoft commissioned Luc(as) de Groot to design Calibri with the screen AND the page in mind. First released in 2004, Calibri has now become the default font for all things Microsoft. It’s a humanist font that bridges the gap between man and machine. It’s not as hip as Helvetica, which works to its advantage, I think—it feels serious enough to be used in business without feeling trendy.

Calibri doesn’t save any ink, but it’s more practical for screen-reading. And the biggest savings will come when we don’t have to print it out at all.