Saving Paper

Even though paper is fairly cheap, I still have somewhat of an obsession to not waste paper. Unfortunately double sided printing is usually not something done in inexpensive laser printers. I had previously worked out a fairly good method for doing double sided printing on my printer:

1) Print out all pages selecting “odd pages only”

2) Put the printed sheets back in the printer the other way around (omit the last page if the document ends on an odd numbered page)

3) Print out all pages selecting “even pages only” and “reverse page order”

I recently discovered that my printer driver has n-up printing. n-up printing is where multiple pages are printed on one sheet of paper. For example, 2-up puts two pages side by side on one sheet. For most documents, printing 2-up is still very readable. For presentation (powerpoint) materials 6-up usually works well, or 4-up if it uses smaller fonts.

But unfortunately, using n-up printing is not compatible with the above double sided printing trick. You’d need an “every other pair of pages” option in there, and no application has that. Which means that if you print 2-up single sided, you aren’t saving paper versus 1-up double sided, just reducing the hassle.

I was searching google on tools to automate both n-up and double sided printing together, but one of the first sites I came across had the simplest solution:

1) Take all the paper out of the printer

2) Print your entire document

3) Insert one sheet

4) Flip the sheet and insert again

5) Unless done, return to step three.

It’s a bit more labor intensive, but since you’re getting 4 pages on each sheet, it goes fairly quickly. This exercise was all to be able to print out a 99 page document using only 25 sheets of paper.

This is one of those solutions that seems completely obvious after the fact.

One thought on “Saving Paper”

  1. this is a pretty cool idea. I imagine one could do the same using CUPS and mpage as a printer filter on a *nix/*bsd box. One great reason to have a MacOS box (OS X or OS X Server) is CUPS is built-in and hassle free.

    I have an HP LaserJet 1200 and it does n-up printing. I love it.
    I don’t believe it was that expensive, but I bought it about 4 years ago.

    Waiting to have an x86 based Mac so I can multi boot!


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