Best Practices for Printing at ISU - Faculty and Staff


ISU encourages faculty and staff to adopt best practices for printing in order to promote cost efficiency and sustainability. Setting printer standards and configuring drivers by default to print in black & white and on both sides of the paper (duplex) have been demonstrated to have an immediate and direct impact on the cost of departmental printing. This document is intended to build on those standard configurations, and provide a guide to behaviors and technological resources which would help to lower printing costs even more (or eliminate them entirely in some cases).

Before You Print

Do you need to print that document?

  • Use OneDrive to share and edit your work with colleagues.
  • In meetings, display agendas, minutes and other documents on a screen using AV equipment.
  • Use laptops (and shared documents or e-mail) in meetings instead of printed sheets.
  • Scan to e-mail instead of photocopying.
  • Email documents or links to yourself.
  • Cut and paste only the information you need into a Word document or text file.
  • Read and edit all documents on screen.
  • Use bookmarks (favorites) to keep track of web information you wish to retain rather than printing.
  • Print to PDF and share documents electronically.
  • Tools like Adobe Sign, integrated into Acrobat, can allow for digital signatures instead of ink.

Before you print, take some time to consider alternative methods for sharing information. Some document formats (PDF) and communication methods (web, e-mail) are specifically intended to not require paper copies. The suggestions above may eliminate (or at least reduce) your need to print any particular document at all.

If You Must Print

Careful consideration should be given to whether or not there is a specific need to print any given document or whether an alternative mode of sharing or presentation would work just as well (or better). After that decision has been made however the default standard for any printing done on campus should be B&W, duplexed and sent to a multi-function device (copier) to ensure the most cost-effective printing. OIT recognizes that isn’t the best approach for all print jobs for everyone always but using that as a default approach will absolutely save your department money over time.

To make the most of your day to day printing, and the occasional special project, please consider the information below after the decision has been made that a hard copy is necessary.

Are you using the right printer?

The device you choose for printing documents has a significant impact on the cost. An individual print job, even if printed in the worst way possible, doesn’t have enough of an impact on a budget for most people to give it any consideration at all. Aggregated over the entire university however those nickels and dimes add up quickly to the tune of over a million dollars a year spent on printing. The table below lists typical features and approximate per page costs for the various types of printers typically found on campus.

Printer Type and Characteristics Approx. Cost per page
Networked High-volume Multi-Function Printer
(MFP, MFD (multi-function device), “the Ricoh”, copier, departmental printer)

Leased or purchased MFD provides the most cost effective way for an individual to print on campus. Provides print, scan, copy, fax, secure printing and more. Quality is good. Most include maintenance so only paper need be purchased while toner and repairs are covered. Regardless of the specific model these are the preferred devices for all campus printing.

B&W: $.006
Color: $.05
Networked Laser Printer
Medium purchase price. Toner is expensive but more cost-effective than inkjet. Quality is good. No maintenance or repairs are provided by ISU so a service contract must be purchased with the device.
B&W: $.075
Color: $.12 - $.18
Personal Laser Printer
Medium purchase price. Toner is expensive but more cost-effective than inkjet. Quality is good. No maintenance or repairs are provided by ISU so a service contract must be purchased with the device. Usage volume compared to total cost of ownership is often not justifiable.
B&W: $.075
Color: $.12-$.18
Inkjet Printer
Low purchase price. High cost ink cartridges with low yield. Quality is fair. Cost per page high. ISU does not recommend (or support) the purchase of inkjet printers for campus use outside of some highly specialized equipment (plotters etc.)

B&W: $.10
Color: $.22-$.25


Are you printing the right way?

After the decision has been made to print rather than use digital files exclusively there are a number of considerations to be made about how exactly to most efficiently produce the document in question.

  • B&W vs. Color
  • Single sided vs. duplex
  • Print in draft mode to conserve toner.
  • Print several pages per view, i.e. 2 pages per side of an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper.
  • Use narrow margins to get more content on each page.
  • Use a smaller font to get more content on each page.
  • Print only the pages you need. Be especially careful of unnecessarily printing white space in documents or signatures in e-mail.
  • Use Print Preview to ensure that your document will print as expected rather than produce multiple “test” copies.

Help and Advice

If you would like advice or support on how to improve your department printing activities contact the Technology Support Center at x2910 and they will assist you directly or put you in contact with your area IT Consultant.

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Article ID: 95159
Fri 1/3/20 1:53 PM
Wed 7/26/23 11:58 AM

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