Princeton University Office of Information Technology Princeton University Library Printing Less at Princeton
Last year, we printed 8,143,233 sheets of paper.

Why you should help

Every two years, Princeton students print out enough paper to cover Lake Carnegie from shore-to-shore, end-to-end. In one year, we could build seventeen stacks of printouts, with each stack standing taller than Fine Tower. How does this much paper affect the environment? Do we really need to print out quite so much?

Since 2004, Princeton has been using only 100% post-consumer-waste (PCW) recycled paper for standard office needs, which includes all cluster printing. In 2007-2008, this measure saved 1,276 trees which would otherwise have been cut down to produce the paper printed out in the clusters. However, recycled paper is not a panacea, and its production consumes precious energy resources and creates waste water and greenhouse gases.

Therefore, it is up to us, the university community, to take the next step on the path to environmental sustainability. This website is a collection of tips and suggestions for ways in which we can each reduce the amount of paper we consume by excessive or unnecessary printing. By reducing our environmental impact together, we can support our greater goal of Princeton in the Nation’s Service, and in the Service of All Nations.

Some Perspective on Princeton Printing

Who is involved

Especially for Faculty

The tips and suggestions shared on this page apply equally to all members of the University community. Faculty members, however, are in the unique position to dramatically advocate saving paper and printing fewer documents by distributing course readings electronically, optimizing documents for on-screen reading or efficient printing, and encouraging students to submit assignments electronically. For example, by distributing PowerPoint lectures as a PDF file with four or nine slides per page, students are guaranteed to print in a paper-saving manner or they can easily use PDF markup and management software to stay completely digital.

OIT provides a number of Faculty-specific and departmental resources for collaborating with students and colleagues. These include Blackboard, SharePoint, and WebSpace. Resources on WebSpace can be integrated directly into Blackboard course sites or easily and securely shared with outside (non-University) collaborators. OIT also provides several methods for publishing material online. The Educational Technologies Center and New Media Center are both ready to assist you with all of your electronic classroom needs and are available for consultations, training, and contract work.

How you can help

The easiest way to reduce the amount of paper that you use is to make sure you always print double-sided, or “duplex.” All OIT cluster printers are set by default to print duplex — you should make sure your personal computer is configured for double-sided printing. A second way to print less is to only print the part you need. If you use the “Print Preview” option in the File menu before you send your document to the printer, you can look at it and make sure that what you are printing is what you expect. If the print preview shows you that the content that you want is only on the second and third pages, make sure to print only those pages.

Many websites, such as online newspapers and magazines, offer a “Printer-friendly” version of each webpage which contains only the information you need. These pages display fewer ads and unnecessary graphics and are optimized for printing, making them more readable. And of course, choosing the “Printer-friendly” version saves paper as well. Some websites, such as Wikipedia, even select the printer-friendly version for you automatically.

Finally, remember that you don’t need to print everything which you might want to read. Bookmark websites to come back to them later. Save downloaded documents to a “To Read” or “Thesis Research” folder. If you download lots of PDF files, you may want to consider using a PDF manager to organize them. Lastly, if you don’t have an easy way to save something, or want to preserve how it would look on paper, you can easily create your own PDF documents.

By following these guidelines to reduce your printing, not only will you help save trees, but the stack of paper you do print out will be more convenient and weigh less!

Printing Less of a Document

Guiding your printing with Print Preview and selecting “Printer-friendly” webpages are two of many ways to save paper by printing less of a document. If you are using Windows, you can easily print less of a document by choosing to print only the selection. On all platforms, decreasing the page margins can also reduce the number of sheets needed to print out a document. In particular, when printing from Excel, make sure to define the print area to avoid wasting paper.

PowerPoint slides can be printed out in a variety of paper-saving configurations, such as 4 or 9 slides per page. The technique of printing multiple PowerPoint slides on a single page can also be generalized to other documents by using “N-up” or “booklet” style printing.

Finally, for those situations when a webpage does not have a “Printer-friendly” version, a variety of web browser tools and extensions can help you print less. Using these extensions, you can click on space-hogging graphics to remove them before printing, or even remove ads automatically while browsing the web.

Printing Fewer Documents

Instead of accumulating and filing printouts, de-clutter your workspace by managing receipts and papers digitally. It’s easy to create PDFs from webpages or e-mail messages and file them electronically, or share them with others. Read more about how to create PDF files.

The editing and grading processes are two common reasons for printing out a paper. However, electronic solutions for both tasks make it possible to avoid wasting trees. Microsoft Word has built-in commenting, change tracking, and collaboration features, and PDF documents can be highlighted and marked-up using Adobe Acrobat or free PDF software. Many professors allow you to submit your work electronically via e-mail or Blackboard, which both saves paper and saves a walk. Read more about electronic editing.

Finally, software solutions such as Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, Scrivener, Yojimbo, MindMeister, VoodooPad, SOHO Notes and DevonThink provide you with electronic notebooks in which to easily organize your paperless thoughts. OneNote is included with Microsoft Office for Windows; most other products in this list provide free demos and academic discounts.


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