A to Z Printer Jargon Buster

With such a huge selection of printers on the market, it can be tough choosing the right one at the best of times, but complicated printer jargon can often make a difficult job almost impossible. Fortunately, we know a thing or two about printers, and we’re here to share our knowledge and take the confusion out of finding the perfect one. This comprehensive printer jargon buster will have you sorting your laserjet from your inkjet in no time and with our wide range of printers available, the right printer for you is just a click away.

Printer jargon explained

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Abbreviation, see Automatic Document Feeder.


AirPrint enables you to print wirelessly from any Apple mobile device. It is an Apple specific technology available for Macs, iPhones, and iPads, and allows you to send documents to printers with the AirPrint technology without the need to install additional software.

Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)

You’ll often see Automatic Document Feeder simply listed as ADF in printer details. An ADF is available in multifunction and all-in-one printers (see Multifunction printer), fax machines, and scanners. This feature handles multiple pages at once and feeds them into the scanner or copier one at a time, so you don’t need to feed each page in manually when working with multiple pages.

Cloud Print

See Google Cloud Print.


DPI is the measurement of resolution, see Resolution.

Droplet size

Droplet size is all about quality (see Resolution). It is measured in picolitres (pl), and a smaller number equals a smaller droplet size, and that means a sharper image.

Duplex printing

Duplex printing is simply another name for double-sided printing and means a printer can automatically print both sides of the page, no manual work needed.

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Ethernet port

An ethernet port and cable means a printer can be connected to a physical network (see Network) and is the most traditional form of connecting your printer at home or in the office.

Google Cloud Print

Often referred to simply as Cloud Print. Printers with inbuilt Google Cloud Print can be quickly and easily connected to your Google account, enabling you to print via a web-connected device. You can also print any tabs directly from Chrome, as well as from a range of Cloud apps such as emails and Google Docs.

Images Per Minute (IPM)

Similar to PPM (see Pages Per Minute), IPM gives an idea of how fast the printer is. IPM is considered a more accurate representation of page speed as it measures the images that can be printed per minute at a fixed resolution. This enables to you to more accurately compare different printers to each other.


This refers to the traditional ink used in inkjet printers (see Inkjet printer) which comes as a liquid in cartridges.

Inkjet printer

An inkjet printer works by spraying ink (see Ink) from several tiny nozzles in the print head and is then absorbed onto the paper. The ink is sprayed in minuscule dots that then make up the whole image or text. This type of printing system is best suited to printing high-quality images. Inkjet printers are the most common type of printer and are generally more affordable than laser (see Laser printers). You can find out more about inkjet and laser printers here.


Abbreviation, see Images Per Minute.

Laser printer

Laser printers use a powdered form of ink known as the toner (see Toner). A laser is used to draw the intended document onto a special electrically charged drum which is then rolled into the toner. The toner is then transferred to the paper and fused with heat and pressure. This printing method is great for printing fine text and monochrome documents, and the speedier print process makes them ideally suited for office printing.

LCD Screen

Many modern printers come equipped with an LCD screen and often offers touchscreen functionality to display printing options, manage your prints and even amend security settings.

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Memory (RAM)

The printer memory is used to store and process the print jobs as they are sent from a computer. The print job is cleared from the memory each time to make room for more. A larger print memory means printing larger print jobs and influences the speed and quality. A larger memory means printing higher quality graphics faster.


Abbreviation, see Multifunction printer.


Mono or monochrome printers are simply printers that only print in black and white. These printers are usually used in office settings, where text documents are common and print queues and speed may be a concern.


Abbreviation, see Multi-Purpose Tray.

Multifunction printer (MFP)

A multifunction printer is simply another term for an all-in-one printer and is usually a printer with a combination of scan, copy and/or fax features.

Multi-Purpose Tray (MPT)

A Multi-Purpose Tray can handle a range of mediums and paper types. You can then choose which paper to print on and the correct type can be automatically fed into the printer.

Near Field Communications (NFC)

This is a relatively recent technology that allows you to print from mobiles and other smart devices via proximity to the printer. Your printer and mobile device will need to be WiFi connected, and your device will need the relevant printer app and to be held near the NFC tag on your printer.


A printer that has network connectivity can be physically connected to your computer network via an ethernet port (see Ethernet port).


Abbreviation, see Near Field Communications.

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Pages Per Minute (PPM)

Pages Per Minute is the most common measurement of printer speed. It simply states how many pages the printer is capable of printing per minute. PPM can be considered an inconsistent measurement, as different brands may print a different amount of text or image per page. Images Per Page (see Images Per Page (IPM)) uses a set resolution and is considered a more consistent way to compare print speeds.

Paper handling

Paper handling simply refers to the type of paper your printer can handle. This may include the different sizes it can take, such as A3, A4 or A5. It can also refer to different media, such as photo paper or envelopes. A printer with a Multi-Purpose Tray (see Multi-Purpose Tray (MPT)) can handle and feed different paper types into the printer.


Abbreviation, see Pages Per Minute.


RAM is the memory of the printer. See Memory.

Resolution (DPI)

Resolution refers to the quality of the prints that a printer can produce. It is measured in DPI, or Dots Per Inch. The more ‘dots per inch’, the sharper the image is and the better the quality. Higher resolutions are particularly important for photo printing needs.


Toner is the type of ink used for laser printers (see Laser printer). It comes as a fine, dry powder in cartridges as opposed to a liquid.


This is another type of connection where your printer can be connected to your computer or laptop via USB cable.

Wireless (WiFi)

Most modern printers now come with a wireless connection as a standard. WiFi printers can be connected to computers, laptops and now smartphones via a WiFi connection. Wireless printers making it easier to share and print from multiple devices.

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