Free printing and printing tips

As you are aware since the beginning of the academic year, St George’s is piloting free printing for all students! We have looked at the printing policy in more detail and have highlighted some of the key aspects below.

YSWD Printing TD 15th Feb 2020
SGUL introduced a free printing pilot for the 2019/2020 academic year

Free printing is good news for anyone on a tight budget or with accessibility concerns. As more of you are making full use of the free printing however, some have raised concerns around the effects on the environment of unlimited and wasteful printing.

While the focus below is on students, your Librarians are certainly guilty of printing too much occasionally and as a result wasting paper, so we can all strive to do better in this regard.

As part of St George’s values, we are responsible and accountable for our choices and decisions. This responsibility includes considering the environmental and ethical costs of our actions, such as excessive and/or unnecessary printing and photocopying. Even though it might not cost you any money, if you want to decrease your environmental footprint, consider how printing depletes natural resources and causes damage. To produce paper a large amount of energy, water and chemicals are needed and paper production causes liquid, solid and gaseous waste, some of which is hazardous.

printing pic

Printing dos and don’ts


  • Ask yourself if you really need a paper copy or is a digital version enough? Keep in mind that the apps you have access to as part of Office 365 (including Word) allow you to annotate and mark up documents and easily share your comments with others.
  • Scan the documents you need instead of photocopying them. All printers/photocopiers devices allow you to scan easily and you can send the documents to yourself via email.
  • Reduce the number of pages you are printing by changing the font size (for most people size 10 is still easily legible) or decreasing margins and spaces between lines. Fonts like Times New Roman use less space than other fonts.
  • Double-check your document includes final changes, edits and amendments before printing so you only ever print the final version.
  • Use the preview to ensure the formatting and layout of your document is correct before printing. Preview also allows you to ensure the document fits on to the smallest number of pages, especially important for spreadsheets.
  • Photocopy or print two pages per sheet if possible.
  • Use apps like OneDrive, Google Docs or Dropbox to share your work with others instead of printing and sharing physical copies.


  • Print copies of important documents. Make sure to back up your work securely (using OneDrive which is part of Office 365, Canvas or even Google Drive) rather than printing copies of your work. Most of your courses will only ask you to submit your assignments digitally.
  • Default to printing Powerpoint slides for all your lectures. Most contain little text and they can be full of graphics. Instead consider writing your notes electronically alongside the slides, by making use of a tool like OneNote for example.
  • Print out Powerpoint slides using the one slide per page option, if you can avoid it. You can generally greatly reduce the number of pages you need to print by selecting to have more slides per page.
  • Reprint the whole document if you only made minor changes or changed details on one page. Remember to only ever print the exact pages you need to replace.
  • Print using the “one sided” option. All SGUL computers default to printing double-sided and you are encouraged to stick to that.

If you have printed unnecessarily and don’t need the pages, remember to recycle the unwanted pages by using the correct (blue) recycling bins, located throughout the Library and computer rooms.

As you can see there are many ways in which you can take full advantage of St George’s free printing pilot scheme while at the same time ensuring that you safeguard the environment, by not wasting precious natural resources and creating unnecessary waste. If we all follow the guidelines above, we also make sure that the University continues to provide free printing to students beyond this academic year as we collectively manage this privilege responsibly and are aware of the consequences of our actions.

We have created a Libguide called All you need to know about printing, where you can find more information on how to print, including from home, your own device and USB. For more general information on how to use the Library, have a look at our Libguide – Library Essentials, which covers printing as well.