Printer & Copier Lingo Debunked

Get clued up on the latest printer & copier lingo.

Like with any technology, there are always words and phrases associated with it that the everyday person may not understand. Ever seen something come up on the printer  or photocopier screen or in the description of a printer and not know what it meant? The world of computers can be confusing, but computer printers often have similar terms and acronyms from traditional printing. Now you won’t need to worry as we’ve debunked some of the most common printer & photocopier lingo to help you out and know which device suits your needs the most.

Cartridge Yield

This one sounds confusing, but it is important when it comes to printers & photocopiers. The cartridge yield is the number of pages a cartridge will print, assuming that each page has 5% of it covered in ink. When looking for cartridge you want to choose one that has a higher cartridge yield and a relatively low price.


Ever seen this pop up? CMYK simply stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or Black) which are the primary colours that are used in printer cartridges. Everything that is printed onto a page uses these four colours and can create a variety of shades by mixing different ratios of the colours together. Most of the time when one runs out the printer or photocopier will notify you which one it is.

DPI or resolution

The way that printers & photocopiers work is by placing tiny amounts of colour on the surface of the paper, with a unit of colour called a dot. DPI stands for dots-per-inch and what it tells us is the number of dots the printers can fit in a given space. If you are looking for a quality printer, then search for one that has a higher DPI. The resolution is similar to DPI, but it describes how sharp and clear an image will be and is most commonly used with later printers.


A lot of printers & photocopiers  nowadays have duplex printing, which means that it can automatically print two-sided documents. However, printers & photocopiers without this feature will mean you have to manually put the paper back in the tray to print on the other side.

Duty Cycle

Duty Cycle is the limit of the printer with regards to how durable it is. Sometimes a printer will state the monthly duty cycle, which is the maximum number of pages that should be used in a month. However, most people won’t consider this unless they are using the printer heavily.


Like with computers, printers & photocopiers need a memory to interpret commands to make up a page and create the representation that can then be printed. A high RAM is important with printers to make sure that it can compose any page, no matter how complex it is. A higher memory will also result in the printer being faster and holding more information.


While DPI is for printing, PPI stands for pixels-per-inch and is used when speaking of scanning documents. The higher the PPI is, the better quality the scanned image will be. PPM stands for pages-per-minute and is a term that measures the speed of the printer. Printers or photocopiers with high PPM are perfect for instances where there is high volume printing.


A lot of printers & photocopiers  nowadays will come with wi-fi and this is used as a method of connecting multiple devices to the printer. Instead of messing about with lots of wires, it is much easier to use wi-fi or even Bluetooth in some cases.