Copier Jargon Explained

If photocopier lingo confuses you, then we are here to help educate you, the customer, with our A-Z of device terminology.

Photocopier lingo explained…



Automatically adjusts the amount of light necessary to properly expose the selected original. (i.e.: coloured paper, poor quality original)


Lens and mirrors are the conventional analogue photocopier’s components that transfer the scanned image to a photoconductor. The mirrors direct the light through the lens and then to the drum.


A device that holds a stack of originals and feeds them automatically, one at a time to the exposure glass for


Allows the user to enter copy functions/commands during the warm-up period. After warm-up is completed, copying will begin automatically.



Primarily used in legal applications, Bates Stamping is the numbering of legal documents. This was done by hand in the past with a numbering machine manufactured by the Bates Manufacturing Company. The numbers on the documents came to be known by the name of the company and “Bates Stamping” came to mean the process of placing the “Bates Numbers” on the pages. When large numbers of documents are involved, this can be done automatically by printers or during the scanning process.



Ability to make copy after copy without the operator having to press the start key at the end of each copy cycle. The number of continuous copies varies by model.


Enables the photocopier to continue producing photocopies until it runs out of paper.


The photocopier can utilise both the minimum and maximum copy area and paper size.


The dimensions, weight or design of these units prohibit desktop support; consequently, these units are free-standing and feature built-in consoles.


Copies Per Minute.



These units’ dimensions, weight, or design allow them to be supported by a desk or optional stand.


The substance that carries the toner in the developer unit. Through the friction of the developer, the toner particles are charged, which will cause attraction to the oppositely charged drum.


The process by which toner is applied to the image on the photoconductor drum.


Digital photocopiers scan and digitise originals before reproducing them (as opposed to using the analogue “light lens” method) essentially, they are converting images to computerised data.  All multifunctional photocopiers are digital, though not all digital copiers are multifunctional.

Digital copiers use an array of sensors that scan the image of a document and prepare it for digital processing. The scanner can utilise two types of scanning technologies, CCD (charge-coupled device) or CIS (contact image sensor).   A CCD scanner uses a series of mirrors and a lens to move the image onto a light-sensitive CCD chip, while a CIS scanner uses a single row of LED sensors that are positioned a millimetre or two below the document along the full width of the scanner.


Dynamic Job Descriptor Entry (DJDE) is a production printer language developed by Xerox Corporation primarily to map data to forms. It combines print data stream specification, variable data printing and forms development. The output is targeted at Xerox laser printers. Resources, including forms, fonts, graphics and logos were developed with a variety of tools provided by many different companies. These were stored at the printer. When the print data stream was sent from the host to the printer, commands in the data stream referenced resources stored at the printer. The printers were generally directly connected to the host computer usually via Channel.


The heart of a photocopier on which the image is formed. It consists of an aluminium core with multiple layers of light and charges sensitive material such as selenium, or an organic-based material.


Duplexing is the process of printing, copying or scanning images on both sides of a piece of paper.



Sorting is done is accomplished by the computer within the copier so no external trays.  In other words, if you are making two copies of a five-page document a  photocopier that does electronic sorting will produce pages 1,2,3,4,5 and then 1,2,3,4,5, unlike a copier that does not electronically sort that would produce pages 1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5.


An energy-conserving feature where after copying and a preset time, the photocopier automatically goes into a standby mode in which partial fusing heat is maintained so that a full warm-up period is not necessary for the next copy job.


Ability to increase the size of the image of the original on a photocopy.


Encapsulated PostScript, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to



Time required from when the start key is pressed to the time the first copy arrives at the exit tray.


The process is used to permanently affix the toner particles to the copy paper. Most commonly, heat and pressure are applied by a heat lamp inside two rollers.



Imposition is the process of modifying the position, orientation, and printing order of the individual pages in a document, and grouping collections of individual pages together on larger sheets of paper or film so that the pages are arranged properly for printing on a particular printing press and binding with a particular
binding system.


IPDS stands for “Intelligent Printer Data Streams.” It is a language that contains the information necessary to identify, monitor, and control the functions of certain kinds of printers that are used in mainframe environments. This information includes the characteristics of the printer, its resolution, what resources it has, whether it has sufficient memory and whether it receives and prints a job.

IFPDS was invented by IBM. It is part of IBM’s AFP architecture.



Allows the user to copy onto a different paper stock, without changing paper cassettes or trays. Also used for two-sided copying.


The largest original can be placed on the glass and copied.


Largest size paper that can be put through the machine.


Paperweights that are recommended for use in the photocopier.


Metacode is a language that describes text & graphics and is understood by many Xerox printers, some current OCE and Heidelberg printers.  This is the standard print language of Xerox LPS printers.


The greatest number of copies that the copier can be programmed to produce from one original. Note: differs by model.


The number of copies per minute produced from one original in a continuous run after the first copy exits. This is also the maximum copy output speed of the machine.



NIC stands for “Network Interface Card”.  A NIC allows a digital copier or printer to become a network printer.



OCR stands for “Optical Character Recognition.” It is a computerised process that enables you to convert a paper document into a computer file that you can search and manipulate using a word processor.

An OCR system reads text from paper, translates the images of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. into a text-based form, and creates a computer file that contains the translated information. The computer file that gets created contains fonts and ASCII codes.

All OCR systems include a machine called a “scanner.” This is a device with a clear glass surface on it and a camera inside it. You put a document face-down on the glass and the camera inside the scanner takes a picture of the document and stores that picture in the form of a bitmap file (also known as an “image file”). Then, the OCR software in your computer uses its intelligence to examine the patterns of dots in the image file and creates a file that contains text that is represented as fonts and ASCII codes.

With most OCR systems, the image file that is created by the scanner is discarded after the final file (the file containing the fonts and ASCII codes) has been created.


Lens and Mirrors: These are the components of the conventional analogue photocopier that convey the scanned image from the glass to the photoconductor drum. The mirrors direct the light through the lens (for focusing or magnification) to the drum.



The maximum amount of paper a copier can store in the paper tray.


Removable cassette, where blank paper is stored for copying.


PCL stands for “Printer Control Language.” PCL was invented by Hewlett-Packard Corporation, and it is a language that is used for describing the text and graphics in documents. Technically, PCL is known as a “page-description language.”  Because PCL was invented by Hewlett-Packard Corporation, it is also known as “HP-PCL.”  Files that contain documents described in the PCL language are normally called “PCL files”; hence, PCL is known as a file format as well as a language.


PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It is a file format that describes the text and graphics in documents. It was invented by Adobe Systems Incorporated.  Because it describes the text and graphics in documents, PDF is considered to be a page-description language. Note, however, that PDF is quite different from other page-description languages (such as PostScript and PCL) because — unlike other page-description languages — PDF can do much more than simply describe the appearance of a document. Software that supports PDF viewing (such as the Adobe Acrobat software) understands the PDF format.


A page-description language (PDL) is a computer language that describes the text and graphics in a document.
Printers and RIPs understand page-description languages.  There are only a few page-description languages that are in widespread use today. Perhaps the best-known page-description languages are:
·        AFP (invented by IBM)
·        PCL (invented by Hewlett-Packard Corporation)
·        PDF (invented by Adobe Systems Incorporated)
·        PostScript (also invented by Adobe Systems Incorporated)
Usually, AFP, PostScript, or PCL is used when you are printing a document on paper; and PDF is used when you want a file that can be viewed on the screen by using 1) the Adobe Acrobat software, 2) a Web browser that is capable of displaying PDF files, or 3) some other software application that lets you view PDF files. However, you can also print PDF files on paper; and these days, more and more people are generating PDF output (as opposed to AFP, PCL, or PostScript output) for printing hard-copy documents.


The ability of the photocopier to copy halftones or photographs more clearly


The platen (or exposure glass) is the plate of glass upon which the original is placed for copying. There are two types of platens:


PPML stands for Personalised Print Markup Language and is an XML-based language for variable-data printing.

This was developed by The Digital Printing Initiative (PODi).  PODi, formerly known as the Print On Demand Initiative, is a not-for-profit multi-vendor initiative that’s working to develop the market for digital printing.


PostScript is a language that is used for describing the text and graphics in documents and was invented by Adobe Systems Incorporated. Technically, PostScript is known as a “page-description language.”  Files that contain documents described in the PostScript language are normally called “PostScript files”; hence, PostScript is known as a file format as well as a language.  Most laser printers and imagesetters understand the PostScript language. The Adobe Acrobat Distiller software also understands the PostScript language.



Rasterisation is the process of converting code that describes text and graphics into the format that is required by a printer’s “print engine,” which is the machinery that puts marks on a page.  It is performed by a “raster image processor,” also known as a RIP.  In some systems, the RIP is a computer that is inside the printer itself. If you print your documents on a desktop printer such as a Hewlett Packard LaserJet or a Lexmark Optra, your RIP is probably inside the printer.  With other systems, the RIP is separate from the printer. For example, if your company uses a Xerox DocuTech printer, the RIP is probably a software program that runs on a Unix computer or a Windows computer that is separate from but connected to the printer.  The code that gets converted (i.e., rasterised) is known as “page-description-language code.”


The function allows the operator to decrease the size of the image on the copy paper.


RIP stands for “Raster Image Processor.” A RIP is a device or a software program that converts page descriptions-
language code to the format required by the print engine in a printer or imagesetter. (The print engine is the machinery that makes marks on a page.)



Single scan systems scan the document once and print multiple copies.


The document must be manually pulled through the feed mechanism each time a copy is needed.


A sorter is a device that is added to the copier for use when producing collated copies.



Plastic-carbon based substance that forms the image on the paper. Toner is part of a mono-component, or dual-
component developing system. It has the appearance of a dry powder.



“Variable-data printing” is a form of on-demand printing in which all the documents in a print run are similar but not identical, for example, if you are printing personalised letters to be mailed to your customers, each document probably has the same basic layout, but there is a different customer name and address on each letter.

When you use your word-processing software to do a mail merge, you are doing a simple form of variable-data printing.

These days, variable-data printing can go far beyond printing different names and addresses on a document. Some systems let you insert different graphics into a document, change the layout and/or the number of pages, print
a unique bar code on each document, use colour extensively. . . and more.



The warm-up time is the amount of time required for the copier to become operable after being switched on.



The term “XML” stands for “Extensible Markup Language, which can think of XML as a method for describing information so that computers (and humans) can understand it easily.



“Zoom” reduction or enlargement modes may be selected by the operator in 1% increments. Magnification percentages (+/-) typically range from 65% to 155%.