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Green Computing

Please also visit Columbia's Environmental Stewardship web site for a range of conservation related topics.

Saving Paper When Printing

It’s all too easy to waste paper and ink when you’re rushing to get work done.  Using a few easy tricks to cut back on unwanted space – or eliminating the need to print something out altogether – can help save a lot of trees over the course of your time here at CUMC, not to mention the money you’d save when using your own printer ink and paper.

Basic Tips to Save Paper:
  • Check default print settings to make sure they’re set to the double-sided option.
  • When printing out readings, check the beginning and end pages of the document for additional information that may not need to be printed out.
  • Set print settings to multiple sheets per page.
  • If blank pages print out of the machine, don’t throw them away! Save for scrap paper or leave them by the printer - CUMC IT staff will put any blank pages back into printer trays.
  • Try to avoid printing out reams of slides whenever possible – study from the computer and/or print one copy to share in a group.
  • If in need of scrap paper, use discarded sheets from the paper recycle bins next to the printers.
  • Ask professors if it is possible to send/receive papers and comments electronically.
Cut Out Unneeded Space
Are you printing something that doesn't need to be formatted double-spaced with one inch margins?  There are many ways to drastically reduce the number of pages you print:
  • Word - Shrink One Page (or Shrink to Fit) allows you to adjust formatting on documents that have a few extra lines on the last page. Using this will change the document formatting slightly. If you don’t like the change simply press the Control and Z keys on your keyboard (Command and Z on a Mac) at the same time to undo the change.
  • Excel - If you see ##### in a cell or column indicating that there isn't enough room to display the actual cell contents, just right-click over the individual cell or column header (Control-click on a Mac), select Format Cells, then the Alignment tab at the top and check off Shrink to Fit under Text Control.
    If Excel is printing more of the spreadsheet than you need, simply highlight the group of cells you want to print, and select File - Print Area - Set Print Area.  Your printout will only contain the cells selected as the Print Area.
  • PowerPoint - To print text only from a PowerPoint presentation, select File - Print and change the option under Settings option from Slides to Outline.  If there are some images you would like to print as well, you can go back and print individual slides.
  • Free web browser extensions such as Print Friendly for Chrome and Print Edit for Firefox let you remove unneeded parts of web pages before printing, or save as a PDF file to read electronically. As with any freeware, be sure to read reviews and information before installing to make sure they are compatible and that you know how it works.
Add Your Notes to Electronic Documents
  • Adobe Reader – if the creator of the Adobe PDF document allowed for it, you can add your own comments, edits, highlights, sticky notes and shapes to the file.  Simply use the Comment button to edit to your heart’s desire.  
    Be sure to share this tip with anyone who creates Acrobat files that you’d like to put your own notes on, they can select Comments – Enable for Commenting in PDF within their advanced Adobe program to allow the feature.
Tips on Buying and Using Equipment

If you're using old computers, mobile devices, and printers, keep in mind that they probably use more electricity than more recently made equipment. When upgrading look for products with an Energy Star, and make sure you're disposing of old equipment responsibly including recycling when possible. Equipment that has accessed or stored certain types of data must also be sure to comply with the Columbia Sanitization and Disposal policy.

Use Power Saving settings on your computer and devices to save money and energy, and turn off printers or other equipment when it's not needed. Before shutting down workforce systems please check with your supervisor or IT staff to make sure equipment isn't scheduled to receive updates during off-times.

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Last updated 9/11/2017