Free Next-Working Day Delivery

Do you know your ‘duplex’ from your ‘MFP’?

Whether you’re shopping for toner cartridges or a new printer, we know that sometimes there can be quite a lot of technical jargon.

So that’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the words our customers ask us about regularly into this handy little printer glossary:



Term What Does This Mean?
3D Printing This a technology that uses computer aided design to build a three dimensional model by printing thin strips of material (usually plastic filament) one layer at a time. We’ve written lots about the technology in the 3D printing news section of our blog.


Term What Does This Mean?
A3 A measurement of paper that is 420 × 297 mm.
A4 A measurement of paper that is 297 × 210 mm.
AIO Stands for All-In-One. This refers to a printer that can print scan and fax. More commonly referred to as multifunction/MFP.
AirPrint Available on iOS devices AirPrint is Apple’s mobile printing program for iPad and iPhone.
Alignment In inkjet printers alignment refers to the correct formation of print heads that will allow them to print text/image correctly.


Term What Does This Mean?
Bubble Jet This is simply Canon’s brand of inkjet printers.


Term What Does This Mean?
Calibrating The process of aligning print heads in an inkjet printer correctly to the paper.
Cartridge A casing that is used to house ink and toner that is then inserted into a printer ready for use.
Cloud Print This is Google’s cloud print service that allows users to send documents from their computer or mobile device to any assigned printer . So you could send a document to your office printer even if you’re on the other side of the world!
CMYK Standing for cyan magenta yellow and key (which denotes the colour black) this is the four colour model used in traditional printing.
Collate Collating your documents arranges them in which order the pages are printed out.
Compatible This refers to an ink or toner cartridge that’s been made by a third-party manufacturer that replicates one built by an original printer manufacturer.
Cost Per Page A figure used to marry the cost of an ink or toner cartridge with the amount of pages it’ll be able to print before it runs out.


Term What Does This Mean?
Default Printer This is the printer in your home/office that your documents will automatically be sent to unless you change your print settings.
Density Printing density describes the amount of light reflected off an image or text on a printed document. By reducing the density setting of your printer you can save ink and toner but dark images will appear slightly lighter.
Dot Matrix A dot matrix printer is an old-fashioned pin printer that shoots lots of tiny dots of ink to create text or an image.
DPI Dots per Inch is a unit of print resolution measurement. Essentially it outlines how many dots of ink per square inch a printer can place on a page. The higher the DPI stated the better the quality of image the printer can produce.
Draft Mode This allows you to print at a reduced quality. Perfect for rough copies or proofreading and can help you to use less ink/toner.
Drum Imaging Unit In a laser printer the drum imaging unit turns toner into an image on the drum ready for printing. Find out how a laser printer works.
Duplex A duplex setting allows you to automatically print on both sides of the page.
Duty Cycle A monthly figure that tells you how many pages a printer can print each month without failing.


Term What Does This Mean?
Electrophotography This is the process used in laser printers and photocopiers of using a static charge to place toner onto a page.


Term What Does This Mean?
Feeders An automatic document feeder selects one page at a time from your input tray. It prints and then automatically loads another page to print.
Franking Machine A franking machine removes the need for you to go the Post Office every time you need to send a letter or parcel by keeping a record of how much you send. It also gives you the opportunity to add your own stamp to your outgoing mail. Check out this post outlining everything you need to know about franking machines.
Friction Feed This is a device that helps paper to run through your printer smoothly and efficiently.
Fuser A fuser unit consists of a pair of rollers that heats paper in your printer so that toner can be melted from the drum unit onto the page.


Term What Does This Mean?
Graphic Pages Per Minute (GPPM) This denotes the number of graphic images a printer can print onto a page in a minute.


Term What Does This Mean?
High Capacity A high capacity cartridge will contain more ink and toner than a standard capacity cartridge. It will therefore be able to print more pages.
HP Laserjet This is HP’s brand of laser printers.


Term What Does This Mean?
Inkjet An inkjet printer is most popular with home users. Ink from cartridges is sprayed through print heads onto a page to create text and images.
Input Tray This is the part of your printer that you stack paper into ready for printing.


Term What Does This Mean?
Laser Printer A Laser Printer is most popular with business users. It heats dry toner powder with a static charge to melt an image onto paper.
LaserWriter This is a brand of old Apple Macintosh laser printers.
Location Aware Printing In Windows 7 this allows you to set up multiple printers on your computer in different locations.


Term What Does This Mean?
Managed Print A Managed Print Solution (MPS) is the management of printing output and printer maintenance. Essentially a MPS can take complete care of a business’ printing from reordering new supplies automatically to scheduling repairs and replacement printers.
MFP A Multi-Function Printer (MFP) is one that can print scan and fax. Sometimes referred to as All-In-One (AIO).
Mono Laser This is a laser printer that will only print in black and white. It requires only a black toner cartridge.


Term What Does This Mean?
Network Printer This is a printer that can be used by any computer connected to your network.
Nozzle A nozzle is a small hole on the end of a print head in an inkjet printer that will drop ink onto a page to form text or an image.


Term What Does This Mean?
Output Device This is any device that receives data from a computer. As an example your printer is an output device of your computer if you send documents to it.


Term What Does This Mean?
Page Coverage An industry standard term used to describe the amount of text colour and imagery on a printed document. Manufacturers use page coverage to calculate the yield of their ink and toner cartridges (e.g. a yield of 4000 pages based on 5% page coverage). You can read about this in more detail in this blog post.
Page Orientation Put simply this is whether you want to print a document either portrait or landscape.
Page Printer This is a printer that can only print one side of a page before selecting another sheet of paper.
Page Setup Page Setup allows you to make a number of choices of how you would like your document to look once it’s printed. This includes page orientation and footers.
Page Size When it comes to printing Page Size refers to the size of paper a document is to be printed e.g. A4 or A3.
Page Yield A volume calculated based on page coverage to determine how many pages you should be able to print using an ink or toner cartridge.
Pages Per Minute (PPM) This is how many pages a printer is able to print in one minute. This makes it a good measurement of how fast it is.
Pagination This is when you take a document and break it up into separate pages and chapters.
Paper Jam A common printing fault whereby paper gets stuck inside a printer and prevents documents from being printed. You can watch our video on how to fix a paper jam here.
PDL (and PCL) Page Description Language is the computer language used by printers that tells the device how to properly print a document sent from a computer. Printer Control Language (PCL) is HP’s own developed language.
Photocomposition This is printing that is performed using a photographic method. Photocomposition is used in laser printers.
Photoconductor A Photoconductor Unit is Lexmark’s terminology for a Drum Imaging Unit. Sometimes referred to as a PC Unit.
Print Area In a spreadsheet this is the desired area of the document that you wish to print.
Print Buffer A temporary area of computer storage that allows documents to be sent to your printer from your computer and prepares them in a queue ready to print. Also referred to as a Spooler.
Print Head In an inkjet printer a Print Head is a component that shoots droplets of ink onto the page to create text or an image.
Print Server A device that manages the printers on your computer network.
Printer Drivers These transfer information between printers and computers.
Printer Engine The component that is responsible for the speed of your printer and the quality level of the prints it produces.


Term What Does This Mean?
Remanufactured A Remanufactured printer cartridge is one that has been made by a third party manufacturer and is designed to work in your printer just like one made by the original manufacturer. They’re made using new and recycled components and contain brand new ink/toner. Check out our own brand TonerGiant cartridges. Also referred to as ‘Compatible'.
Ribbons Cloth or plastic ink ribbons are used in dot matrix printers to put ink onto paper.


Term What Does This Mean?
Solid Ink A printing technology developed by Xerox. Solid Ink Printers heat sticks of ink to melting point to create an image ready to place on a page. You can read all about the technology in this blog post.
Spooler/Spooling The Spooler is responsible for managing all current print jobs that have been sent to the printer. Problems with spoolers are common problems- read our tips on how to resolve them.


Term What Does This Mean?
Transfer Belt Transfer Belts in laser printers rotate in front of toner cartridges where toner layers are applied to them. One layer at a time the toner is then transferred from the belt onto the page.
Toner The powder used in laser printers that’s heated to create prints.


Term What Does This Mean?
Wireless Printer This is a printer that can receive information from a computer over a Wireless Local-Area Network (WLAN) or via a Wi-Fi connection.

print ad new

Share This

Share this post with your friends & colleagues!