What's Black and White and Green All Over?

When do cost savings and marketing gimmicks give way to productivity and document effectiveness? It's a tough call and can't really be made on a blanket basis, but rather on a case-by-case one.

In recent weeks, Doc has gotten the impression that more and more companies are adopting monochrome printing policies designed to cut down on color printing expenses and use of resources. This has even taken the shape of a marketing ploy as in "we're printing in black and white to be more green."

But when do the cost savings and marketing gimmicks give way to productivity and document effectiveness? It's a tough call and can't really be made on a blanket basis, but rather on a case-by-case one. Yes, some documents that have been getting printed in color may be just as effective when done in monochrome. But others are highly aided by the strategic use of color and take far less time to understand and digest.

So how do you come up with a company policy? Are all "financial" documents restricted to monochrome while marketing documents get color? Should each department have a quota of some type where they are monitored and measured on the ratio of color to monochrome printing? Who, ultimately, should decide if a document is printed in color or not?

Doc asks that you leave a little wiggle room in your policies. When taken on a case-by-case basis, each document is unique and serves a very defined function. The addition of a few red words, a highlighted section in yellow, or a full-color photograph that tells an important story could all impact the effectiveness of your documents. Ideally, these decisions are left to the author who is, increasingly, not only responsible for the content, but for how it is used within the organization.

I'm all for cost savings and the minimization of negative environmental impact, but the difference between a monochrome image and color one is much more than how much toner hits the paper. It's about communication, and that's a more precious commodity.

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