The paperless office isn’t as commonplace as some people predicted a couple of decades ago, but it is still possible to cut costs by using less paper – digital signatures can eliminate the need to print a document for faxing, while having an offline reader application for your smartphone means you don’t need to print emails and websites to read on the bus or train journey home. Some things still have to be put on paper, though. However, it’s possible to save a bit of money if you do. Switching to draft mode for documents where quality isn’t an issue can cut down on ink or toner consumption, while printing more than one page of a document on each sheet of paper will reduce paper use.
Double-sided printing is one answer, but not all printers have the duplex feed mechanism. There’s nothing to stop you feeding printed pages back through by hand, but it’s cumbersome. A better option is to shrink pages down so you can fit more on one side of a sheet; two A5 pages fit perfectly on to one side of A4. This type of printing called ‘N-up’ (where N = two or more), won’t suit all documents – smaller pages can be harder to read – but it works well for email and web pages, and when you want a quick contact sheet of photos with which to work.
1) Some printer drivers support N-up printing by default, so just choose the option in their preferences before printing. You can do this from Printer Preferences in the Control Panel if you want the change to be permanent, but a better option is to do it on demand for each print job. You’ll need to use the relevant applications Print menu option to access print preferences; the Print toolbar button or keyboard shortcut often sends a document straight to the printer. Be prepared to do some digging; printer drivers use various names to describe N-up printing.
2) lf your current printer driver doesn’t offer N-up printing, check for a driver update. You may be able to manage without help from your printer driver, as some applications offer the same function. in Microsoft Word, N-up printing can be found under Zoom in its Print dialog box. Click the File menu, Print and click the drop-down list next to Pages per sheet. In PowerPoint, this function is listed under Handouts.
3) N-up printing from an image-editing application can be tricky, but one way to do it is to create a blank image file with the same dimensions as an A4 sheet – 297x210mm – and paste multiple images into it. A quicker option is to use the image printing feature built into Windows from XP onwards. The only catch is that the images you want to print must all be in the same folder. Find the photos you want to print and group-select them, either by dragging across them with the mouse or by holding down Ctrl as you click them one by one.
4) Select File, Print from the window’s menu bar or just right-click one photo and select Print from the context menu. Windows XP gets you to click through a wizard to print multiple images on one page, but Vista and 7 present all the options in one window. In all cases, you can choose from between two and 35 images per sheet, depending on how large you want each image to be.
5) If you want N-up printing and neither your print driver nor your software supports it, you can still do it the help of a paid-for utility. If you have Adobe Acrobat installed, you can choose N-up printing as part of its PDF generation; you just need to print the resulting PDF separately. Other PDF-generation tools offer similar features, but all require the same two-step printing process. FinePrint can do the same thing in one step. You can download a free, fully functional demo from www.fineprint.com.
6) With FinePrint downloaded and installed, you then need to use its virtual printer for print jobs; either make it the default Windows printer or select it within an application via the File, Print dialog box. Once you’ve sent a print job to its virtual printer, FinePrint will display its own dialog box (you’ll need to click OK to clear an About dialog box in the demo version). Here you can select how many pages to print per sheet and see how much paper you’ll save as a result. You can also opt to print in grayscale and remove any embedded graphics, which is handy for web pages where all you want is the text.