Carry less weight: lighten your load!

If you are handicapped by repetitive strain injury, one of the more difficult things to do is to carry heavy items like shopping bags or a briefcase.  Luggage is the worst, so make sure it rolls (even so be careful, you may still re-injury yourself). Whether you continue to carry a briefcase or choose to go with a backpack (though I recommend a frontpack), you should learn this technique for reducing the weight of papers taken home for reading, because it weighs 80% less than the standard method.

Lightweight paper

Normal paper is 20lb. and provides the best compromise between sturdiness and weight. But if you donít mind thinner paper, consider using 15-16 lb. (I recommend Mead #39100/200 typing paper: the 100/200 sheets per package weigh in at 12/24 oz. respectively, a savings of 25%).

Double-sided printing (use an inkjet with automatic duplex)

The most convenient desktop solution is to use an inkjet with automatic duplex. HP makes a number of fine models, and they are worth the additional expense in convenience. If you do nothing else, printing everything double-sided will reduce the weight by 50% (and also conserve trees). If you can print to one of the fancier Xerox machines, it will even staple.

Booklet format

This reduces the type size and/or margins somewhat, but can save another 50% and provide an even more convenient reading format. Working in a Windows environment, the best software I have found is called FinePrint, and academic licenses are only $20 (e-mail them). When printing journal papers, it often is smart enough to expand the type to nearly fill the page, and in the best of cases sacrifices no reduction in font-size. It also reorders the pages and can manually sequence a duplex job if your printer isnít automatic.

Stapling a booklet is tricky, and the best solution I have found is also very inexpensive: the Max USA HD-10V two way horizontal/vertical mini stapler staples up to 15 sheets of 20-lb. bond paper (so presumably 20 sheets of the 15-lb. paper). It works very well and uses miniature staples, so you might need their RZ-F staple remover. They also make a HD-10DFL ďflat clinchĒ stapler which is worth looking into, but it doesnít do booklets. 

A couple of caveats are in order.  Although you can use any or all of these ideas (booklet format requires double sided printing), donít use lightweight paper in a laser or Xerox printer (it could catch on fire).

Summary: The total weight savings is a remarkable 80%. This means that 2-3 pounds of reading material can easily be accommodated in a more compact package weighing only about 8 ounces! This technique also conserves environmental resources.