Is there such a thing as a “green” font? You probably haven’t considered how much ink is used from one font to another, but rest assured, other people have. And even though Penny and I ARE geeky designer-types with knowledge of things like recycled or FSC certified papers and vegetable-based inks we wouldn’t typically introduce such topics into casual dinner conversation.
But, in all humility, we were at a loss to supply the answer to a friend’s question over dinner as to what the greenest font was. Luckily our friend thought she’d read somewhere that the font in question was Century Gothic, which is a typeface with relatively thin characters. I was even more surprised that our friend was introducing the subject since few people outside of designers give fonts much thought at all.
I unholstered my trusty iPhone to google the answer and was immediately foiled by a 3G dead-zone. Pacing from our friend’s dining room to the kitchen and back through to the living room produced no better result. Frustration set in and, well, we all just HAD to know now, didn’t we?
Naturally, when I got home I rushed to my computer and found the answer. Or rather, I found several answers. First off, I found a blog post which in one breath proposed Garamond to be the greenest font and then in the next breath whispered about “Ecofont” a relatively new typeface from Dutch company Spranq. As described in several other blogs, Ecofont saves on ink or toner by incorporating tiny holes in the letter-forms, which are apparently imperceptible due to the ink bleeding into them when printed.
By digging a little further, I eventually did find a blog post supporting Century Gothic for the “green” crown. It seems the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB) came to that conclusion after doing a study which demonstrated that Century Gothic used 30% less ink than Arial. What’s more, they determined that Century Gothic was more economical than Ecofont. The school has since switched over to using Century Gothic in all institutional documents.
Well, there you have it, right?
Not so fast! Spranq fired back on their website refuting the UWGB findings about Century Gothic. And here’s where things get a little (more) confusing, but stay with me. It seems that Ecofont isn’t really a font with holes in the letter-forms; rather, it is a software package that places holes in the letter-forms of other fonts. The UWGB study had made its comparison of Century Gothic to an Ecofont version of Vera Sans, a thicker font. Apparently the school didn’t realize that you could do an Ecofont treatment of Century Gothic, which would save on even more toner. And, although it may use less ink, Century Gothic is a wider font than many others and therefore uses up more paper than more compact fonts to print the same documents. So, based on the amount of paper used, can one really call Century Gothic the hands down winner of the “green” font title? Perhaps not.
For now, we’ll leave it to other, more geeky designer types to decide.