Printer Resource Glossary

Resource Glossary

If you are looking into a printer lease, or already own a printer, it’s likely you will be faced with lots of terminology that can be confusing. As professionals in dealing with and maintaining printers, we’ve broken down all the terms and printer jargon so you can make an informed decision on your new printer or leasing contract.

And if you are signed up to a photocopier lease, or own your own, a lot of these terms can apply to a copier too.

ADU (Automatic Duplexing Unit)

A dedicated component that’s located between the paper supply and the fuser. It’s function is to flip the paper onto its reverse side for duplex printing. Most home and office printers already have this unit installed.

Aftermarket Parts

Components or parts that are made by companies other than the original manufacturer.


Also known as MFDs (multifunctional devices) or MFPs (multifunction printers). An all-in-one machine can perform multiple functions in a single machine. A good example would be a machine that can print, fax, scan, and copy, such as the Konica Minolta Bizhub C754E

Automatic Exposure Control

This function automatically adjusts the amount of light needed to properly expose the original material.

Automatic Resizing

Digital copiers usually offer an automatic sizing function on their machines. This enables the copier to note the dimensions of your original document and adjust itself using preset reduction/enlargement settings. This is possible regardless if the copying paper is of a different size from the original.

Automatic Start

This function allows the user to enter commands while the machine is in the warm-up period. After this process is completed, copying will automatically begin.

Bates Stamping

The process of placing “Bates Numbers” on pages which is primarily for legal documents. This is done automatically during the printing or scanning stage especially with large numbers of documents.

Bridge Unit

An additional module that some photocopiers require in order to bridge or connect the copier exit to the finisher.


The measurement of the luminosity and whiteness of a sheet of paper expressed as a percentage. This percentage represents the proportion of light reflected versus the amount of light emitted.

Bypass Tray

A tray that’s used to reduce the risk of a paper jam by providing a more in-line path with the fusing section. Bypass trays are usually needed only in non-standard paper applications like colored papers, uneven-sized, glossy, transparencies, etc.


Measured in micrometers, this is the distance between one surface of a paper to the other.

Carbonless Copy Paper

Also known as ‘no carbon required forms’, these are used to make copies of invoices, invoice books, receipt books, or other business forms.

Catcher Tray

Tray that collects or catches the output copies.

Coated Paper

A special type of paper that’s covered with a thin layer of clay or chalk. Compared to other types of papers, a coated paper provides better printing quality.

Cold Reset

Resetting the printer to factory defaults. Any changes you have made from the control panel will be reverted to the original settings.


Items that are used in printing/copying that need to be replaced often. Examples of consumables are paper, developers, toners, or other supplies that must be replenished on a regular basis.

Continuous Mode

Mode that tells a copier to continue producing copies until it runs out of paper.

Control Panel

The control panel is an LCD display (in modern photocopiers or printers) where you can find all the control functions. It includes commands such as copy reduction, copy enlargement, paper size, etc.

Convenience Copying

Term used when you make a quick copy of a document by using the scanning function.

Copy Size

Refers to the minimum/maximum copy area and paper size that a copier can handle.

Copy Volume / Print Volume

The approximate monthly amount of copies used by a manufacturer to tell customers how durable a machine is. In the perspective of end-users, this is the number of copies that they expect the machine to produce.

Cost of Ownership

Determines the actual cost to prepare the budget needed when buying/leasing machines. This can include consumables like papers and toners, as well as service contracts.


Found through the menu on the control panel, it’s a useful management tool that records the number of copies produced (black and white / color).


Stands for copies per minute or pages per minute. This is used to determine how fast a copier or a printer is. In scanners, this is known as SPM or scans per minute.

Cut Sizes

Refers to paper size that is pre-cut and packaged in convenient sizes.

DC Controller

A circuit board in a printer that’s separate from the main logic board. It controls the electrical and mechanical functions of a printer.

Desktop Copier

Type of copier that usually sits on a desktop or table. It is usually used at home or in a small office where space is limited since it doesn’t require a stand.


A device in a laser printer that draws the toner powder through the system to the paper.


Refers to the process where toner is applied to the image on the photoconductor drum.

Digital Copier

A digital copier is a machine that converts images to computerised data after scanning them. They use sensors to scan the image of a document and prepare it for digital processing afterwards.

Note: All multifunctional copiers are digital but not all digital copiers are multifunctional.

Digital Copying

Technology that is similar to a scanner wherein an image is broken into dots and rows. This is opposite to an analog copier which takes a picture of the document to be copied using a lens.


Measurement of print resolution which is also known as ‘dots per inch’. Basically, printers with higher DPI produce clearer and more detailed outputs.


A software that’s responsible for the communication between a computer and peripherals such as printers. The driver should match the correct printer for the correct application. As such, printers may have more than one driver available.


The unit that’s responsible for transferring the toner to the paper. It’s made of aluminum and rotates inside a laser printer that has a light-sensitive coating. The drum captures the information beamed to it by lasers and prisms when exposed to light. It then produces the image in dots.

Dual Page Copy

Creates individual copies of two pages placed side by side on a glass platen like that of pages in a book.

Duplex Copying

Also known as double-sided printing. It’s a useful feature that allows a user to print on both side of a sheet of paper. This process can be done manually or automatically.


A printer accessory that makes duplex printing possible.

Electronic Sorting (E-SORT)

A feature in a printer which is useful when you need to have multiple sets of the same document. For example, if you need to make three sets of a 20-page report, you select the ‘sort’ option. What will happen is you’ll get all 20 pages of the first set, 20 pages of the second set, and 20 pages of the third set.

Energy Save Mode

If you do not use the printer for a preset period of time after an operation, the display will turn off and enter this mode. It’s similar to standby mode where partial fusing heat is still maintained so that a full warm up is no longer needed for the next print job.


This is used to increase the size of the image of the original on a photocopy.

Envelope Feeder

A printer accessory used to feed envelopes into the printer which attaches to the front of the printer.

Exit Assembly

Also known as output assemble or delivery assembly. It’s purpose is to feed the paper to its final exit path out of the printer.

Fax Board

A fax board is a computer board that’s needed to add fax capabilities to a machine once it’s plugged into a landline phone line.

Feed Roller

The component that is in charge of transferring the paper through the printer by ‘feeding’ it. It often works together with a separation roller.


A device attached to a copier that can staple, punch holes, and make booklets.

First-copy Speed

An indicator which measures how quickly a photocopier can print the initial page of a document. This information is useful for businesses that use copiers on a walk-up-and-use basis.

Formatter CPA

A circuit board that receives the data from the computer and breaks it down into a printable format.

Fuser or Fusing Assembly

A unit that heats the page and applies pressure so the toner partially melts and transfers to a page permanently.


The process done by a fuser which pastes the toner to the paper.


The unit of measurement of a paper’s reflectivity or, of the printed result. The higher the units of ‘Gardner gloss’ a paper has, the glossier it is.


It is the predominant direction in which the fibers of the paper become aligned to during manufacturing. Most of the time, papers are in long grain form which means that the fibers are aligned to the sheet’s longer side.

Image Editing

A feature in digital copiers that allows you to edit documents during the duplication process. It can include adding date stamps, watermarks, automatic page numbering, etc.


The process of modifying the position, orientation and printing order of pages in a document. It can also refer to grouping collections of pages together on larger sheets of paper of paper.


Stands for ‘Intelligent Printer Data Streams’. A language that includes information needed to identify, monitor, and control functions of some printers. The information can include a printer’s resolution, resources available, and memory.

JetDirect Connectivity Card

An optional printer accessory which allows a user to access a printer using a different path than the built-in connection ports. An example of this is accessing the printer via a network rather than a direct connection.


Also knowns as JPEG which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It’s a file extension for a lossy graphics file which is commonly used on digital camera memory cards. This is the ideal format for an image that needs to be very small files.

LAN (Local Area Network)

A computer network that spans a small area like that of an office.


Also known as Large Capacity Feeder. It’s an extra large paper cassette which holds a large amount of paper for long, uninterrupted print jobs.

Ledger-sized Paper

Sheets of paper that measure 11 x 17 inches. They’re also commonly known as A3 papers.

Legal-sized Paper

Sheets of paper that measure 8 1/2 x 14 inches. They’re also commonly known as A4 papers.

Letter-sized Paper

Paper sheets measuring 8 1/2 x 11 inches.

Low Voltage Power Supply (LVPS)

A device that converts AC power to DC power which is used by a DC controller to run the printer.

Maintenance Count

The number of pages printed since the last time the printer was serviced. After a maintenance kit is installed, it’s a must that the count is reset to zero.

Maintenance Interval

A printer setting which controls at what page count the printer will display a ‘maintenance needed’ error message.

Maintenance Kit

A set of replacement parts for a printer. Depending on the printer and the manufacturer, the parts in the kit may vary. It can be any or all of the following: fuser assembly, transfer roller, pickup rollers, separation pads, corona assembly, fan assembly, cleaning cloths and gloves.

Manual Bypass

This is also used for two-sided copying but mainly to copy onto a different paper stock without having to change trays.

Margin Shift

A function that shifts an image slightly to the right for hole-punching or binding purposes.

Maximum / Minimum Paperweights

Paper weights that are recommended for use in the copier.

Maximum Copy Size

Largest size paper that can be put through the machine.

Maximum Monthly Volume

The maximum number of copies a machine is capable of producing each month.

Maximum Original Size

Largest original that can be placed on the glass and copied.

Memory (RAM)

Similar to a computer, the more RAM (Random Access Memory) a printer has, the faster it is and the better it will be in handling different tasks.


A device that can do multiple tasks like scanning, copying, printing, faxing, etc. The terms stand for Multifunctional Device or Multifunctional Peripheral.


Another term for black and white.

Monthly Duty Cycle

The maximum number of pages that can be printed in a given month without risking damage to the printer. This specification can be used as a rough estimate to gauge a printer’s durability.

Moving Platen

A copier with a moving platen usually has a speed of 20 copies per minute. As opposed to a stationary platen, it moves side-to-side to carry the original copy to the optics.

MP (Multi-purpose) Tray

A tray that is used for printing with specialty media like stock paper, labels, envelopes, glossy coated paper, etc. It’s usually located at the front of the printer.


Maximum number of copies that the copier can be programmed to produce, from one original.

Note: Differs by model.

Multi-copy Speed

This is also known as the maximum copy output speed of a machine. It’s measured by the number of copies per minute produced from one original in a continuous run after the first copy exits.


This term was derived from the initials of its creator, National Cash Register. It’s a type of coated paper that’s designed to transfer information written on the front onto sheets beneath.


A computer circuit board or card that’s used to allow a digital copier or printer to become a network printer.


Stands for Optical Character Recognition. It’s a technology used to convert different types of documents into editable and searchable data. This process is made possible with the use of a scanner.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

This term usually applies to printer cartridges but it can also be used for machines and other consumables. It refers to parts that are made by the same manufacturer who made the machine.

Offset Printing

A printing method wherein the ink is not directly transferred to the paper. Instead, the image is transferred to a rubber blanket first before rolling it onto a sheet of paper. This method makes use of a plate that’s usually made of aluminum.

Offset Sorting

A method of sorting where the copies are offset into a single tray for retrieval, either in groups or individually.

OHC Mode

Printer mode used to print on transparencies which are usually used in projectors.


A property of paper that measures the amount of light that can be transmitted through it. A paper’s opacity determines the extent to which printing on a particular side of paper will be visible from the reverse side.

Optional Lower Cassette (OLC)

An optional tray that is added to the base of a printer for more paper storage capacity.

Paper Capacity

The maximum amount of paper that can be stored in the paper tray.

Paper Tray

Removable cassette where blank paper is stored for copying.

Parallel Port

A 25-pin connection port used to connect a printer to a computer. These ports are more commonly used for older printers.

PCL (Printer Control Language)

A language invented by HP which is supported by nearly all manufacturers. It is used to describe the text and graphics in documents. Files that contain documents in this language are also known as ‘PCL files’.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

A file format that describes text and graphics in documents which was created by Adobe Systems Incorporated. Although it can be considered as a page description language, PDF can do much more than simply describe the appearance of a document.

PDL (Page Description Language)

A term that is generally used to refer to the language by which a computer sends information to a printer. HP’s PCL (Printer Control Language) and Adobe’s PDF (Portable Document Format) are examples of this.


A paper-feeding photocopier desk or cabinet with extra paper trays.


The process of printing on both sides with just one pass through.

Photo Mode

Mode that is used to provide the best detail and smoothness for photographic images.

Pickup Roller

A rubber wheel that grabs and feeds the paper through the printer. A dusty or worn-out pickup roller is one of the main causes of misfeeds and paper jams.


Also known as flatbed, this is the glass area in office copiers and scanners where the original documents to be copied/scanned are placed. A platen can either be moving or stationary.

Positive / Negative

An editing feature that is useful for faxing brochures, where the black and white areas of the original copy is reversed. For example, white text on black background to black text on white background.


Another PDL (Page Description Language) created by Adobe Systems. It’s standard for desktop publishing and takes advantage of high-resolution output devices. Newer laser printers have built-in support for PostScript. If it doesn’t, you can purchase a memory chip that contains PostScript.

Printer Controller

A laser printer’s main onboard computer. It is the one in charge of communicating to the host computer using either a parallel or a USB port. During the printing process, the laser printer establishes with the host computer how they will exchange data.

Proportional Zoom

A function that shrinks or enlarges the length and width of a page, with each of them being independent from one another. Other terms for this function are independent x and y axis zoom or anamorphic zoom.

RADF (Reversing Automatic Document Feeder)

A document feeder that is responsible for duplex printing. It functions by scanning one side of a page, then flips it to scan the other side.

RIP (Raster Image Processor)

A device or software that converts PDL (Page Description Language) to a format required by the print engine. By using the RIP, a copier can be attached to a computer to convert color files into printing instructions for the copier.


Process of taking an image and converting it into a raster image (dots) for output in a printer.

Raw Printing

Sending a string of commands to a printer in its native language. It is usually used in printing receipts, barcodes and text-based labels.


Unit of measurement used for sheets of paper. A ream of paper normally has 500 sheets in it.


Function that reduces the image to a selected percentage.

Refurbished Printer

A refurbished printer is a second-hand machine that was reconditioned, repaired, and repackaged to be sold.

Remote Diagnostics

A support service that can be done either by phone or online. This can include diagnosis, troubleshooting, and maintenance of printers without having a technician onsite.


The sharpness and clarity of an image. In the printing industry, the resolution indicates the numbers of dots printed on the paper per inch which is also known as dpi (dots per inch).

High resolution printing is critical for high impact products like dibond signs.

ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances)

Directive which took effect in July 1, 2006 which restricts the use of hazardous materials in the production of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. This directive is also being applied in the printing industry.

Saddle Stitch

A book binding method in which sheets are gathered together one inside the other and then stapled through the fold line with wire staples. This process is made possible in some printers using a specific finisher as an option.

Scan Once Print Many (SOPM)

A function in most MFPs that allows you to scan a document only one time and be able to produce multiple copies of it. It’s a very useful feature since you don’t have to scan a document each and everytime that you need a copy of it.

Scan To Email

Allows you to scan a document and email it directly from the copier to an email address.

Scan To File

Creates an electronic file from a scanned original copy which is then sent to a desktop or dedicated server folder for retrieval.

Segment 1 Copiers

(Small or home office) Copiers with speeds between 11-20 copies per minute.

Segment 2 Copiers

(Small offices) Copiers with speeds between 21-30 copies per minute.

Segment 3 Copiers

(Small to mid-sized offices) Copiers with speeds between 31-40 copies per minute.

Segment 4 Copiers

(Mid-to-large offices) Copiers with speeds between 41-69 copies per minute.

Segment 5 Copiers

(Large to very large offices) Copiers with speeds between 70-90 copies per minute.

Segment 6 Copiers

(Productions, Print shops, Commercial applications) Copiers with speeds between 91+ copies per minute.

Separation Pad

It is a stationary pad used to push back on the stack of paper to allow only one sheet to be fed at a time. It works hand-in-hand with the pickup roller.

Separation Roller

Works similarly as a separation pad and is sometimes located above it.

Service Contract

The signed agreement between you and a provider that specifies the arrangements for repair, service and maintenance for the copier and/or printer.

Service Mode

A mode that can be helpful for resetting the maintenance count, and various other troubleshooting and reset tasks. It is primarily intended to be used by printer technicians but end-users can access it as well. Entering this mode usually requires to have the printer turned off and while it’s being restarted, a series of buttons must be pressed.

Single Document Feeder (SDF)

Also known as an automatic document feeder or ADF. It is a feature which takes several pages and feeds the paper one page at a time into a scanner or copier.

Single In-line Memory Module (SIMM)

A standard memory design which is used in older 32-bit laptops, PC’s, and printers. It is a module that contains one or several random access memory (RAM) chips.


The process of applying a sticky substance on the surface of the sheet of paper to act as a protective filler or graze. This method helps stop water-based inks from penetrating into the sheet of paper.


Refers to the evenness of the surface of the paper. The smoother the paper is, the lesser the amount of abrasion when it is ran through the printer, which is a crucial factor to lesser paper jams.

Sheffield Smoothness Gauge

One of the tests that is used to measure the smoothness of a paper is by the use of this device. It has a metering float that moves up and down to indicate how much air passes between the paper surface and the head of the gauge.


Sort / Group

The opposite of ‘stack/stacking’ option. This option is used when printing multiple sets of copies of documents. You will get each set of the documents together as opposed to getting multiple copies of the same page which you’ll have to sort after.


Set of horizontal bins near the output tray of a copier which enables the collation of pages in the order that they emerge from the machine.


The process of transmitting data from the computer to the printer with the help of a spooling program. It helps a lot in multitasking because print jobs are sent to the printer one at a time and are queued. It allows you to continue doing other tasks without monitoring the whole printing process.

Stackless Duplexing

This is also known as trayless duplexing which enables a user to keep the original document as an image in memory, as opposed to having it physically in the tray. It allows the user to make as many double-sided copies as needed without being limited to the number of sheets a duplexing tray can hold at a time.

Stationary Platen

The opposite of a moving platen. This type of platen remains stationary while an internal scanning device moves from side-to-side to copy the original. It usually makes a machine physically larger but gives the user the option of adding a document feeder which is not possible with a moving platen.

Super G3

G3 is a type of fax group which is an encoding format used for fax transmission. G3 is the more commonly used format. The term Super G3 means that a fax can be sent at a higher speed compared to the normal G3 or earlier fax systems and has better error corrections systems.

Note: To get the most out of a Super G3 fax machine, it needs to be sending to another Super G3 system. Otherwise, the speed will drop to the rate that both machines can handle.

Supported OS

Refers to the operating system a machine is compatible with. It is very important to always cross-check compatibility, otherwise the machine will not function.

TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)

The whole sum of what a printer purchase will really cost during the whole duration of its expected life. This includes not only the price of the machine itself, but other factors like maintenance kits, toners, paper, supplies, repair, support fees, and everything else in between.


Stands for Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. It is the recommended method for network printing if your printer is ‘TCP/IP Addressable’. This method is extremely fast in sending a print job directly to a printer.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

A common format used for exchanging raster graphics between applications. Unlike the JPG format, the lossless properties of TIFF files means that they have been saved without degradation. However, they are larger in file size.


A powder used in laser printers and copiers to form the printed texts and images on a paper. This powdery substance is electrically charged so that it adheres to a drum, plate, or a piece of paper with the opposite polarity. Most toners used in laser printers come in a cartridge that you insert into the printer.

Transfer Roller

A component in most laser printers that transfers images onto paper. It is made of rubber and metal, and uses opposing electrical charges to attract the toner particles. It is also responsible for collecting any excess toner and puts them in a waste reservoir to avoid ink from getting inside the printer.


Technology used by scanners and other image-acquiring devices. It is an application program interface (API) and communications protocol that lets a user scan the image and sends it directly into the application where you want to work on it, like PhotoShop or Microsoft Word.

UFRII (Ultra Fast Renderer)

It’s concept is similar to PCL (Printer Control Language) and is mostly associated with Canon printers. It offers faster processing compared to existing Printer Description Languages but is less common.

USB (Universal Serial Bus)

A serial bus standard used for transferring data to and from digital devices. It offers the ability to connect different devices together such as printers, scanners, cameras, drives, etc.

Variable Data Printing (VDP)

Method of printing that uses software to change the output for a more personalised piece with unique information. Originally, it was used to put different names and addresses in documents to be mailed to customers like in a marketing campaign. This process has evolved allowing you to insert graphics into documents, change the layout or number of pages, print a unique barcode, etc.


Vellum Paper

A type of paper that is less porous and is sometimes highly transparent. Printing on vellum paper requires extra drying time. It is usually used in printing certificates.

WAN (Wide Area Network)

A computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area. It allows a user to print from a computer to a printer located in a different location.

Warm-up Time

Amount of time required for the copier to become operational after being switched on.

WEEE (Waste From Electrical And Electronic Equipment)

A directive which requires manufacturers to be responsible for the financing of the collection, treatment, recovery, and environmentally sound disposal of wastes from electrical and electronic equipment including printers, scanners, and copiers.


The estimated number of pages a consumable, like toner or developer, can print. This information is useful in calculating the cost per page of a printer.


Function that enables a user to reduce or enlarge copies within a certain percentage rate.

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