4 Tips to Make Your Design Decisions Greener

A print product’s design is the result of countless, deliberate decisions: What font? What paper? How many lines per page? Now, there’s something else to consider. Are the decisions you’re making green?


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Your design decisions affect more than just the look and feel of the final product. They affect the size of its ecological footprint. Every word, illustration and print decision factors into the product’s ultimate impact on the environment.  Consider some of these simple tips to make your design decisions greener.


1. Specify a narrow typeface with a small x-height

Typefaces and typesize can dramatically alter the space text occupies. The following sentence about a quick brown fox and lazy dog illustrates this point:


Both of the above are set at 11 point, but the Verdana stretches well above and beyond the Perpetua, using more space to communicate the same idea.

Choose a narrow typeface with a small x-height like Perpetua to significantly reduce the number of pages needed for your print project. A book of 192 pages set in the 11 point Verdana drops to 144 pages if set in 11 point Perpetua. That’s 48 pages saved by a mere font change!

2. Reduce the paper weight and thickness (bulk, volume, caliper)

A thinner, lighter product takes up less room in a container, on a pallet and in the warehouse. That means it reduces the energy consumption needed to transport the product. It also means less waste. Consider using 70gsm paper instead of 100gsm and Vol. 16 paper instead of Vol. 20 to drop pounds, inches and environmental impact.

3. Avoid solid colors

A solid color has no gradations and usually covers a large part of the page. Avoiding solids reduces ink and raw materials usage. This makes paper easier to recycle and reduces the chance that large amounts of ink seep into the ecosystem.

4. Choose pictures that don’t bleed

Pictures that bleed continue over the edge of the page and require trimming. As a result, bleeds require printing on larger-sized paper. The extra needed is generally about ¼ inch long — extra that is trimmed off and disposed of as waste. Including one or two bleeds means the entire product must be printed on outsize sheets. All those trimmings add up, so think before you bleed!


green design and print production handbookFind more in-depth tips and step-by-step strategies to reduce your business’s ecological footprint in The Green Design and Print Production Handbook by Adrian Bullock and Meredith Walsh, available now from HOW Books.