The Importance of Printing in the Age of PDFs and Email

Do you remember the smell of a freshly printed book? Have you ever relished the glossy feel of magazine pages?

Some believe these could be relics of the past. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

Thankfully, printing is not going out of fashion any time soon.

Evidence points to higher levels of reading comprehension from printed material versus digital material. Moreover, people who read printed materials are engaged for longer and retain more.

There seems to be a renaissance in printing.

Read on to discover how office equipment suppliers are more in tune with their customers’ needs than ever, and how they have even adapted to a digital age.

One Professor’s Discovery

An assistant professor at the University of North Dakota, Virginia Clinton, encouraged her students to buy cheaper digital versions of textbooks online. She was met with significant backlash from her education students, who told her they preferred paper.

Clinton began to look into this. She found results from 33 high-quality studies testing students reading capabilities from paper texts and from digital texts. It seemed her students were onto something. When it came to nonfiction material, the studies demonstrated that students of all ages absorbed more when they read from paper.

29 of the 33 laboratory studies found that readers learned more from the printed text than from paper. The importance of printing a document, then, cannot be understated.

But it is curious why this is the case. Is it that the glare and flicker from digital screens tax the brain more than paper?

Blue light does disrupt sleep schedules, which could inhibit knowledge retention. There are good reasons why people are told not to look at screens before bed.

Digital distractions are also ubiquitous and could tempt readers away from the task at hand as they may browse away from the document they are reading or flick between multiple tabs, multitasking and splitting their attention.

Overall, digital content results in less engaged readers that retain less, particularly in regards to nonfiction. This was found in the studies on students but has important implications for businesses as well where employees may have to read lengthy technical documentation or reports.

Tools of the Trade

We have already shown that reading printed material has tangible benefits to students and professional productivity. What, then, are the tools of the trade? How do specific printing practices help businesses?

Something has to be said about why there is still a robust market for commercial printers and commercial copiers. These will not go out of fashion anytime soon, as long as people prefer them. Just because some people are going digital does not mean everyone prefers this option.

Just as Clinton’s students advocated for using printed textbook material over digitized versions, some people prefer traditional printing for comfort and reliability.

Fixing a printer is easier than fixing an entire cloud database. It is easier than converting your entire business to a digital system.

Many businesses still rely on commercial printers and commercial copiers for various sectors in their business. Printing is especially important in advertising and packaging.

Quality print material, in these cases, can make all the difference.

Printing Will Not Go Out of Fashion

developmental psychologist, says “there is physicality in reading”. There is definitely truth to this statement. There’s nothing quite like holding textured paper in your hand, feeling its weight, or leafing through pages of books.

There are benefits to printing in various business sectors and academic contexts. Printed items are tangible. Do you know that scene in American Psycho where the bankers compare how fancy their business cards are?

A printed object is something that you can hold. You can feel its quality. It is permanent in the way something digital is not.

For example, many products come in packaging. This packaging is almost always printed and displays the brand logo and information about the product.

Packaging that is clear, colorful, and high quality reinforces the customer’s trust in the product.

And these days, printing things out signals effort and going the extra mile. It signals a finished product. Professors may ask their students to print out essays to display integrity about their academic work, and because the printed paper is easier to markup. Not everyone has access to a tablet.

Speaking of tables, when your phone or laptop is out of battery, paper will always be accessible to you as long as you have it on hand.


In the context of advertising, people consider printed advertisements to be more credible, informative, and longer-lasting.

A digital advertisement can be closed and forgotten about instantly, as soon as you navigate away from the page or stop viewing a billboard. A brochure or a business card lasts and persists with the holder.

Additionally, printing stops the proliferation of fake news.

A UK study found that over half of British adults had been exposed to fake coronavirus news. Generally, printed sources of news are viewed as more credible.

Printed news sources have reputations to uphold and entire editing teams vetting information. Adults who had been exposed to fake news had seen it through channels like social media or short-form digital tidbits.

At the end of the day, not everyone has access to digital mediums.

Underprivileged college students may not have laptops. It may be strange to say, but not everyone has an email address or computer access. Those who are elderly often need a lot of assistance with digitized things, so printing things out may be more helpful.

Authenticity in Printing

In a world of fake news and tons of online spam, printed objects have come to signal authenticity and realness. People actually like to receive paper mail now, because spammers have moved to spamming inboxes. If you run a business, it could be helpful to print out some mail. This will be something your customers can hold.

Office Equipment Suppliers and Their Range of Services

When a printer breaks down, there are tons of easy, modern solutions to repair it. When your database breaks down, you have to hire specialized tech workers to fix it, which is costly and time-intensive.

In this day and age, printing signals commitment to quality and authenticity, and a willingness to engage with people in the real world and not just online.

These days, office equipment suppliers actually offer a range of services apart from selling commercial printers and commercial copiers. Find out more about how we can help with electronic document solutions and IT issues today.

Scroll to Top