Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Friday, 17 July 2009

Choice architecture and paper saving

EDIT: I am mildly smug that this post managed to get linked from the Nudge blog - see point 2 (well yes I did send it to them)...

This document which I've been looking at for printing purposes is 20 pages long.

Self-monitoring of blood glucose in non-insulin treated Type 2 diabetes: a report prepared by an NHS Diabetes working group

In fact, it's really 15 pages long.

The second page is the blank inner for the cover, pages 17 and 18 are empty, and 19 is the blank inner of the outer cover on p20 (which carries important information on how to get more copies of the document - but this surely could have been squeezed in elsewhere).

Printer dialogue is therefore 1, 3-16, 20 - if I don't want to waste 2 sheets of A4... (double sided).


I think I am about to sound a bit like the woman who writes in to a biscuit manufacturer complaining that the top biscuit is always broken in the packet, suggesting that they remove this biscuit before selling the product...

Another way to save paper, maybe
When publishing books or magazines the pages have to be even numbers (divisible by four I believe) and so sometimes blank pages feature in the finished product. Fine by me.

Often PDF versions of the same documents are subsequently made available for free download but these blank pages are not removed.

This means that if I want to print the document (let's assume it's no more than 20 pages and I want to read it on the way home) without printing out those blank pages then I need to actively select what bits I want to print. If I just press 'print' I'm automatically wasting paper.

I vote that blank pages are removed to remove having to make this unnecessary choice and general faffing with having to type 1,3,4-9,11,12-18,20 in a print dialogue box ;-)

And another thing
If I can extend the argument a bit, I'd also ban individual pages from having just one item on them, such as title or publishing information and I'd like all printers to have a button, in the on-screen menu, that automatically reformats the document to print using the smallest amount of paper while still being readable.

The blog for the book "Nudge" has a PDF with a dozen suggested nudges - it takes up nine pages, one is entirely blank and the first page has only the text "PART V: EXTENSIONS AND OBJECTIONS" on it (which I think could fit on page 3).

My suggested nudge: once a file has gone to the printers, reformat it before loading it as a PDF on to a website.

Given that most screens require users to scroll up and down to read the PDF, or Word doc etc., the impact of having a large title on one page is probably lost. Might as well squash things up a little bit, but not too much. I accept that some documents do need a bit of white space for easier reading of course.

This post is for everyone who, when printing out a document, tries to get rid of as much white space as is possible - the font changers, resizers, margin trimmers, line-spacing reformatters, two-pages-to-a-side people and the fans of duplex printers.

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