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14-Year-Old's Science Project Could Save the Government $234 Million a Year

Teen discovers switching fonts could save government millions

A clever 14-year-old is currently schooling the government in one easy yet effective way to save on some serious cash. And by that we mean somewhere in the ballpark of $234 million. (So yeah, pretty serious.)

All they'd have to do? Switch fonts.

Middle schooler Suvir Mirchandani first dreamed up the cost-saving idea as a way to save funds at his own school, Dorseyville Middle School, in Pittsburgh, Pa. It was all part of his science fair project, which aimed to show school administrators that a simple font switch in the school's paper handouts would actually save $21,000 each year. The school district, and Mirchandani's teachers, liked the sound of that, and one teacher in particular urged him to take his project a few steps further.

So this year, the 14-year-old submitted his project to the Journal of Emerging Investigators, which publishes the work of both high school and middle school students. And it wasn't long before it got him plenty of attention—and one of the editors had an idea. What if the same cost-saving methods could be applied to the federal government? What font could they switch to without rocking any boats, and how much would it save?

Mirchandani got to work, and soon returned with an answer: If the federal government—which spends around $467 million a year in printing costs—made the switch from Times New Roman and Century Gothic to the more lightweight and space-saving Garamond font, it would save $136 million a year. When factoring in all state agencies, that number would balloon to $234 million in savings. (Not too shabby.)

“We were so impressed,” says Dr. Sarah Fankhauser, the journal's founder. As she tells Forbes, “We really could see the real-word application in Suvir’s paper.”

While the government has been making the switch from paper to digital in recent years, Mirchandani explains that it hasn't fully happened yet. “They can’t convert everything to a digital format,” he tells CNN. “Not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed.”

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