Use less paper, save money

Ways of reducing paper consumption without cramping your style

A few years ago, there was lots of excited chatter about how we were on the brink of becoming a paperless society. No longer would offices be cluttered up by reams of reports. Faxes would be replaced by electronic communiques. Even items that it seemed would have to be printed because they required a physical signature would disappear as we learned to trust digital signatures on e-mails.

Ha! Judging by the stationery bill and the numerous overflowing recycling bins at our office, as with most companies, there's still an awful lot of printing and paper consumption going on.

Sometimes it's just far more convenient to print out items. Yes, you may be able to skim-read a few paragraphs of a report or a business brief onscreen. And most are able to take in the essentials of an e-mail which, mercifully, most people have now learnt are best kept short and sweet. But, despite this now well-established world of electronic correspondence and documentation, not everything can be absorbed in an electronic format. Inevitably, there are times when it's far more convenient to press the Print button and take a copy of something over to your colleague's desk or stash it in your briefcase to show a client.

It's no accident that most semi-formal meetings you attend involve both a presentation and a handout containing (if you're lucky) just a few slides as a summary.

Given that we still have a use for the old-fashioned paper trail, reducing its size and environmental aspect is something we should instead aim for. Recycling is good, but if we didn't consume so much paper in the first place, it would be better. Here, we've examined ways of doing so without cramping your style.

They'll keep Accounts happy as the bills for photocopy paper and printer toner will be that much lower.

Make the most of prints

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  1. Word tends to print well because "pages" correspond to paper pages. To save paper, try the Manual duplex and Zoom settings in File-Print. Manual duplex gives you double-sided printing when your printer doesn't automatically support it. Click Options to choose whether even or odd pages get printed first.

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  2. Zoom lets you fit several document pages on a single page. You can paste everything into one document, squeezing four pages on to a sheet to get a portable printout. You can't use duplex and zoom together, and you can't preview either, so work out which way round to put the paper back into the printer before you start.

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  3. Unless your slides contain a lot of information in a small point size, choose Handouts under "Print what" and put several slides on each page. Choose three slides per page and PowerPoint automatically adds a ruled area for people to take notes in. Choose Outline if you want a printout of only your presentation text.

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  4. Print Preview shows you how many pages your Excel spreadsheet will take. But View-Page Break Preview lets you drag the blue lines that show the edge of the page to fit more on. If a few lines or a column won't fit, you can force them to print on the same page and shrink everything to fit automatically.

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  5. You don't have to put your document on paper to distribute it. If you've got Windows XP, PowerPoint already has the File-Package for CD option for creating a disc complete with the PowerPoint viewer and all your image files. Click Options if you need to include fonts or to choose how to start the presentation.

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  6. To add a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet with background information to your disc, click Add Files. If you've got an older version of Windows, use the option to save the files to a folder. You can then burn that folder to a CD using your PC's standalone burning software.

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