Printing Green with XPS

My email signature varies, but typically it looks something like this:

imageDon't need to print this? If you need simple, secure, electronic paper then try XPS .

It's my take on the more common urge to 'please consider the environment before printing this email'.

Recently there's been a bit of a trend in covering ways of reducing the environmental impact of printing. Examples: on three steps to the paperless office, Vince Ferraro on HPs Strategy and Portfolio of Environmental Solutions , and Jim Lyons on advising on the current and future role of paper . There's a range of solutions, from straightforward print preview to utilities like GreenPrint (with the wonderful tagline — millions of trees can't be wrong).

So how does all this relate to XPS? Well, since XPS is an electronic paper format you probably won't be surprised that it's a good alternative to physical paper for many situations. For me, there's three ways I use XPS to help manage what and how I print:

  • Archiving to electronic paper, not physical paper
  • Print previewing
  • Deferred printing

Archiving to electronic paper

I've written about this previously, so here I'll just repeat that "Computers replace filing cabinets, not paper", Windows has excellent instant search with metadata support and mention The Social Life of Paperjust for good measure .

Print Previewing

Many applications provide a rich print preview capability, for example Excel allows you to see how a spreadsheet fits (or doesn't!) onto a page while Internet Explorer lets you scale content to make best use of the paper. Another option is provided by the many printer drivers that also offer print preview capabilities. But what can you do if the application or driver you're using doesn't support preview? With XPS you have the option of printing from the application to XPS (via the Microsoft XPS Document Writer), checking the content in the XPS viewer before reprinting to a physical printer. This technique also lets you get explicit about the pages you want to print when it might not be clear from the application exactly what content will end up on which page.

Deferred Printing 

"Deferred" printing is for all the times when you *might* need to print so you print just in case. For example that order confirmation that urges you to "print a copy for your records" or the web page that you need a copy of for possible future reference. Instead of printing you can make an XPS file just like with print previewing, but then store it on the hard drive so it's there if you need to really print it at some future point. What's better is that with the support for metadata and indexing you can file away your deferred print jobs while still making it easy to retrieve them if you need to, and you can even print a physical copy directly from the Windows Explorer.

So, if you don't need to print this, try XPS