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Printer glossary

Select from these letters to jump to terms alphabetically:

» 0 - 9
» A - D
» E - I
» J - N
» O - R
» S - Z

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0 - 9

4x6 Printing - Printing snapshot-sized photos. Many HP printers have this capability. For more information about this technology, see the definition for borderless printing.

6-, 7 or 8-Ink Printing - An extension of 3- or 4-ink printing (see CMYK ), multiple-ink printing adds additional colors to create long-lasting, virtually grain-free photos with true-to-life color, and accurate black-and-white prints.


A - D

Adaptive Lighting - Image enhancement to enhance detail in shadow areas or areas that are too light or overexposed.

All-in-One (AIO) - A printer that can also scan and copy; many of these devices can send and receive faxes as well.

Anti-aliasing - The process of removing or reducing the jagged distortions in curves and diagonal lines so that lines appear smooth or smoother.

Auditing - A Windows® feature that enables the system administrator to monitor printing activities for any user.

Auto Answer - A setting available on most fax machines, fax modems and multifunction devices with fax capability. With auto answer, an all-in-one automatically picks up incoming fax calls after a specified number of rings.

Automatic Document Feeder - A tray or attachment that feeds one page at a time into a fax, copier or scanner.

Automatic Paper Sensing - An optical sensor on a printer "reads" the unique media "signature" of the paper or detects the type of paper by measuring inherent physical properties and comparing them with the signatures of other types of media. Once the media is identified, the printer optimizes printing for that specific type.

Automatic Two-sided Printing - The printer automatically outputs a two-sided page without the user having to manually reverse and feed the paper. Automatic Two-Sided Printing is an option on most printers. It is standard on many high-end HP printers.

Bays - The physical frame of a microcomputer case; a space for installing an internal drive or a peripheral.

Bidirectional - A term for a parallel printer connection or an external peripheral in which data flows regularly in both directions between computer and printer.

Bit - The abbreviation for binary digit; the smallest unit of digital information, represented by 1 or 0. Computers and peripheral devices generally use many bits to represent information about each pixel of an image.

Bit Depth - A digital image is represented as a bit-map (a grid of dots). Bit Depth is the number of color tones that can be associated with each dot. A 1-bit color, for example, can only contain 2 colors: black and white. But an 8-bit color contains 256 shades (color or gray), while a 24-bit color contains 16.7 million shades.

Bitmap File - The standard graphics format for Windows® images. Usually carries the file extension .BMP.

Black Copy Speed - The maximum speed at which the copier produces black text. Copy speed is measured in copies per minute (cpm).

Black Print Speed - The maximum speed at which a printer outputs black text. Print speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm).

Borderless Printing - Printing photos with no white space around the edges. Borderless prints look like photos from a photo lab. Many HP printers have this capability.

Brightness - An adjustment to control the lightness and darkness of an image, measured by the percentage of reflected light.

Broadcast Faxing - A fax machine feature found on most all-in-ones that sends the same fax documents to multiple recipients.

Carriage - The fixture in the print device that holds the printhead. The carriage may slide on a carriage rod (or rods) to scan (pass over) the media.

Centronics - One type of PC printer cable (also called a parallel printer cable). USB cable is more common in printers today.

Charging Roller - One of the complex systems of rollers inside a typical laser printer or all-in-one. The charging roller transfers an electrical charge to the photoconductor, which repels particles to the toner.

CMYK - An acronym to represent cyan, magenta, yellow and black, the basic colorants (dyes, pigments or toners) used in digital imaging. These four colors alone are used to create all colors in an image. Some photo printers add additional colors for improved photo quality.

Coaxial Cable - The cable typically used in Ethernet networks; also used to provide cable TV service.

Collation - A feature offered on some inkjet printers, laser printers and all-in-ones. With collation turned on, multiple copies of a document are printed as separate documents. Many of these products have a box labeled "ordered printing." With ordered printing turned on, the pages in a multiple-page document are printed in the correct order.

Color Balance - A print quality attribute that refers to the overall color cast of an image. Unbalanced images appear to have an underlying color so that grays do not appear neutral.

Color Matching System - A system of computer software, display hardware, cardboard color wheels and color filters. Used together, these elements help ensure that colors used on the monitor are the same colors that will be printed in the final document.

Color Separation - A color printing technique used to print full-color photographs and multicolor images and text. A standard set of colors (usually cyan, magenta, yellow and black) is applied in separate layers, and the combination of these layers creates different colors.

Color Wheel - A number of cardboard or plastic cards held together by a wire or bolt; each card carries a different color and an identifier for that color in a particular color matching system. A color wheel is useful for comparing the actual color represented within the color matching system to the color displayed on a monitor or physical layout.

Compatibility - How well one computer, attached device, data file or program can work with or understand the commands, formats or language of another. True compatibility means that any operational differences are invisible to people and programs alike.

Contrast Enhancement (automatic) - Automatically brightens images that appear dark or hazy, and applies appropriate tone correction to deliver improved quality and clarity.

Corona Wires - A set of thin wires inside the body of a laser printer that transfers a static charge to each sheet of paper; this charge in turn attracts the toner to the paper.

Dedicated Print Server - A PC in a network dedicated to managing all available printers.

Device Independent - A print job saved as a file is a device independent when it can be printed or displayed on any compatible hardware platform and achieve the same results. PostScript files are device independent because the same PostScript file produces the same results whether printed on a computer printer, a laser etching system or when shown on a computer monitor.

Dictionary - As a PostScript term, a file containing font descriptions. Each description specifies how every character in a font family is constructed, including derivatives such as bold or italic versions.

Digital flash -Applies image enhancement to improve detail in shadow areas or areas that are too light or overexposed. Also called Adaptive Lighting.

Dot Matrix - A popular early impact printer that used a grid of tiny pins to transfer ink from a ribbon to the page. Dot matrix printers can produce basic graphics, but have inferior print quality compared to inkjet or laser printers.

Dots Per Inch (DPI) - A measurement of print resolution. DPI indicates how many individual dots a device can address on a page per square inch of area. DPI is typically listed as horizontal resolution by vertical resolution.

Driver - Software that comes with a peripheral (e.g., printer, scanner, camera, etc.) that allows the peripheral to communicate with the PC.

Duplex - Printing both sides of a two-sided document.

Duty cycle - The maximum number of printed pages per month a printer can output.

E - I

Encapsulated PostScript File (EPS) - An EPS file is a standalone, self-contained PostScript file that describes the contents of a printed page. EPS files can be scaled to any size, and they are commonly exchanged by desktop publishing and graphics professionals, publishers and printing houses. Many clip-art libraries on CD-ROM and the web offer graphics in EPS format.

Enhanced Capability Port (ECP) - An international specification describing bidirectional communications using a PC's parallel port. ECP focuses on printers and scanners.

Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) - An international standard documenting bidirectional communications using a PC's parallel port. EPP focuses on peripherals other than printers and scanners.

Ethernet Network - The simplest, slowest and least expensive network design, usually well-suited for home or small offices. An Ethernet network simultaneously broadcasts data packets to all computers in the network.

Font Family - In typesetting, a font family is a specific font and all of its derivatives: italic, bold, small caps, strikethrough, etc. A simple font might include Times Roman, but a font family includes Times Roman in italic, bold and so on.

Fax Forwarding - A fax feature that enables the machine to automatically forward any document it receives to another fax.

Fax Header - An informational line of text printed at the top of every page by a fax machine; it includes a name, station ID and fax number. Depending on the product, it may also include a company name and telephone number.

Fax Polling - A fax machine feature that enables your machine to automatically distribute the documents specified by the sender to other fax machines that connect to it.

Fax Remote Retrieval - A fax machine feature that enables remote retrieval of faxes from a machine.

FireWire - High-speed external connection used for connecting peripherals, also referred to as "IEEE 1394." See also Port Connection.

Firmware - Low-level software that runs in a digital camera, printer, scanner, etc. and controls the product's operation and user interface.

Font - A set of printing characters that share the same distinctive appearance. Fonts are used on a computer to display text on the monitor and print documents.

Freeware - A program distributed free of charge by the author. Freeware programs, fonts and original clip art files are offered on the Internet and on computer bulletin boards.

Fuser Roller - One of a system of rollers inside a laser printer. The fuser roller heats the page after the toner is applied, so the toner partially melts and sticks to the page for a permanent bond.

GIF Image - Short for Graphics Interchange Format; usually carries the file extension .GIF. The first truly universal standard format for file images, originally developed by CompuServe. Widely used on the web, GIF files are best used for small images in limited colors.

Hardware Conflict - A situation in which two adapter cards inside a PC attempt to use the same hardware settings. If one of these cards is the I/O adapter and the conflict involves a parallel port, it will likely lock the PC whenever printing is attempted.

IEEE-1284 Standard - The international design specification for bidirectional parallel printer cables. Most inkjet and laser printers do not work properly unless the printer cable meets this specification. Most products now use USB for printer-to-computer communication.

Impact Printer - A printer that uses the force of an impact through an ink ribbon to create a printed character on a page. This impact is delivered by a rotating ball or wheel or through a grid of pins. This type of printer is generally slow and noisy.

Individual Ink Cartridges (IIC) - HP's inkjet printing solution that has a different ink cartridge for each color.

Infrared - A type of connection that allows data to be wirelessly transmitted from a camera directly to another device when the infrared window on the camera is lined up with an infrared sensor on the other device.

Ink Cartridge - An HP cartridge with only ink used in individual ink cartridge systems.

Inkjet Cartridge - An HP cartridge with an integrated printhead; the inkjet technology is in the cartridge along with the ink.

Inkjet Printer - A printer or an all-in-one unit that shoots fast-drying ink through tiny nozzles onto a page to form characters. The inkjet is currently the standard for personal computer printing. Inkjets are fast, affordable and quiet. They provide high-quality graphics and print in color.

Input/Output Card - Usually abbreviated I/O card. A standard PC adapter card that typically provides two serial ports for your modem and two parallel printer ports.

Interface - A connection standard for transferring data that's recognized by all PCs or Macintosh computers. For example, a parallel printer port is a common interface found on virtually all PCs for transferring data from the computer to a printer.

Integrated Printhead (IPH) - A printhead that is integrated into an inkjet cartridge so that the ink and inkjet technology are together. Also described as tri-chamber and tri-color cartridges.

Interpolated Resolution - An enhanced resolution that is computed using a software algorithm to make an image appear as if it were scanned at a higher resolution; contrast with optical resolution, which is the inherent physical resolution of the device. Both resolutions are given as dots per inch (dpi); thus a 2,400 dpi scanner can be the true optical resolution of a machine or a computed, interpolated resolution.

Interrupt Request - Usually abbreviated IRQ. A signal generated by an adapter card in the PC that alerts the CPU to handle incoming data from the keyboard, mouse, serial port or parallel port.

J - N

Jetdirect Connectivity Card - An HP accessory that offers a way for small workgroups with nonparallel computers and a variety of platforms to share printers without installing a network. By leaving the printer's parallel port free and fully functional, it allows the user to print from both parallel and nonparallel connected systems.

Jetdirect Print Server - An HP server that allows users to place network-capable printers and peripherals anywhere without using cords.

JPEG File - Usually carries the file extension .JPG. The current favorite image format among web surfers and graphics professionals, JPEG images are highly compressed to save more space than a .BMP or .GIF file.

Label Stock - A paper sheet carrying peel-off or perforated labels that are arranged in a regular pattern.

Landscape Printing - Printing where the longer length of the page runs from side to side rather than top to bottom. Landscape mode is often used to print spreadsheets and larger photographs.

Large-format Printer - An inkjet printer designed to handle paper sizes of 11x17 inches or larger. Some large-format printers also use continuous rolls of paper. These printers are generally designed to produce photo-quality posters, blueprints, maps, banners and signs.

Laser Printer - A printer or all-in-one unit that uses static electricity and heat to bond particles of toner to a page to create characters; the same technology used by many copy machines.

Letter Quality - An old term for a printer that produces text that looks as if it were created with a typewriter.

Local Area Network (LAN) - A group of computers in an office or building connected to one another by cable. A network computer can access files on other computers in the network or enable others to open and use its files. Printers, modems and CD-ROM drives are also typically shared peripherals on a network.

Media - The material that is printed upon, such as plain paper, glossy paper or transparency film.

Monochrome Printer - A printer that prints in only one color, usually black. Some monochrome printers can also produce text and graphics in shades of gray, as well as strict black-and-white.

Network Interface Card (NIC) - An adapter card installed in a computer that enables it to connect to a network; most NICs support several different types of networks and network cabling.

Network Printer - A printer available for use by workstations on a network. A network printer either has its own built-in network interface card or it is connected to a printer on the network.

O - R

Page Description Language - A language recognized by computers and printers that define the physical characteristics of a page, including fonts, graphics, margins, spacing and colors.

Page Memory - The number of pages a fax can hold in its memory if it runs out of paper.

Pages Per Minute (PPM) - A measurement of printer speed, indicating how many finished pages a printer can produce over a 60 second period. PPM speeds are typically listed for both black-only and mixed text and color documents.

Page Storage - The number of pages (text or graphics) that can be stored internally.

Pantone - A spot color matching system supported by most computer desktop publishing and graphics design software.

Paper Capacity - Refers to how much paper (including envelopes, transparencies, etc.) a printer tray can accommodate.

Paper Guides - Adjustable plastic dividers that help hold paper in the proper alignment in a printer's paper feed tray. These guides can be moved to fit different dimensions, such as international sizes, envelopes or custom-sized paper.

Parallel Communications - A method of sending data from one computer to another over several wires simultaneously, which results in faster transfer rates.

Parallel Port - The common name for one type of printer connector on the back of a typical PC. I/O adapter cards are available that can provide a PC with up to four separate parallel ports, but most computers come with one as standard equipment.

Peer-to-Peer Network - A simple network design that uses no file or printer servers. All workstations on the network are connected by cabling, which enables users to share files and hardware, such as printers.

Peripheral - A computer term for any external hardware device that can connect or attach a computer system, such as a printer or scanner drive.

PictBridge - PictBridge allows digital cameras, camcorders and other image-capture devices to connect and print directly to photo printers and other output devices; no PC is required.

Pixel - A single element within a digital photograph. The typical digital photograph is made up of several million pixels.

Port Connection - A communication link between hardware components. Types of connections include FireWire, Parallel, USB, Serial, and SCSI. See also FireWire, USB, SCSI.

Port Polling - A procedure performed by Windows® each time the computer is booted and each time a print job is sent from an application. The operating system automatically checks the parallel port to make sure that a printer is ready to receive a print job. In many cases, port polling can be turned off to improve printing speed.

Print Buffer - A separate, standalone print spooler with its own built-in memory that connects a computer and printing hardware. The print buffer can spool print jobs, freeing up all of a computer's resources for applications.

Print Cartridge - The device that integrates the printhead, ink container and ink delivery systems.

Print Driver - The software that enables the operating system to properly build and format commands and data bound for the printer; in effect, a print driver tells the operating system all it needs to know to successfully operate the printer.

Printhead - In an inkjet device, the printhead contains the nozzles and electronics that control the ejection of ink drops. This electro-mechanical functionality allows the delivery of ink dots.

Print Quality - A qualitative description of how pleasing printed output looks. Most printers enable the user to adjust the quality of print and the speed of printing. In general for inkjet printers, slower print speeds result in higher print quality.

Print Resolution - The quantity of data capable of being printed, typically measured in dots per inch (dpi). Higher resolution is one of many factors that can improve print quality.

Print Zone - The portion of the paper that the printer is capable of printing on.

Printer Booth - A box made of fiberglass or Plexiglas, insulated to reduce noise, that encloses a printer. A printer booth is opened to add paper and retrieve printed documents.

Printer Command Language (PCL) - The page description language developed by HP for use in its laser and inkjet printers.

Printer Emulation - A printer emulation enables a newer printer to "act like" an older, widely used printer so it can recognize and print documents formatted for that older model.

Printer Server - A computer solely dedicated to supporting a network printer. The server's system RAM and hard drive are used to store print jobs in the queue, and print jobs can be reordered, paused, or deleted from the server's keyboard.

Privileges - A Windows® feature that enables the system administrator to change the user privileges for a specific printer. Privilege settings can prevent other users from using a printer, deleting a job, or pausing the print queue.

Properties - Windows® users can display the properties for most printers by right-clicking the unit's icon in the printer's folder. Doing so enables the user to change the configuration or default settings.

Queue - A sequence of documents sent to a printer to be processed sequentially, usually in the order in which they were sent by the computer. Some multi-operating systems such as Linux and Windows® allow users to set privileges or delete print jobs from the queue.

RAM Cartridge - A cartridge that can be plugged into a laser printer to add more RAM. The more RAM a laser printer has, the faster it can print documents.

Random Access Memory (RAM) - RAM built into a printer can temporarily store data from a print job until the printer is ready to print the data.

Reduction - Shrinking the size of an image. With HP's digital reduce/enlarge features, the user can specify the exact reduction or enlargement percentage needed (anything between 25% and 400%).

Resolution - The quantity of data capable of being captured, printed or displayed; typically measured in dots per inch (dpi). Higher resolution is one of many factors that can improve image quality.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) The primary colors used by displays to create full-color images and detected by the sensors in scanners or camera's when capturing an image. By varying the relative intensity of red, green and blue, millions of different colors can be generated.

S - Z

Scalable Printing Technology (SPT) - HP's latest generation of thermal inkjet technology. It's featured in new printing platforms across consumer and commercial products launched in 2005, and allows the integration of thousands of nozzles and multiple colors onto a single printhead.

Send Time - The time it takes to send a message or file through an infrared (IR) or serial port. Measured in seconds per letter-size page.

Sharpness - The quality of details in photo-quality output.

Separate Ink and Silicon (SIS) - A printing system in which the inkjet printhead resides in the printer, not the ink cartridge.

Smoothing - Gives digital images a smoother, more uniform appearance for realistic, true-to-life photo quality.

Special Features - Features that differentiate one product from another, including double-sided printing accessories, networkability, etc.

Special Functions - Refers to the number of special functions a product performs. For example, some all-in-ones include fax capability, while others do not.

Speed - How quickly black or color text is printed or copied. Copy speed is measured in copies per minute (cpm). Print speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm).

Thermal dye sublimation - In dye-sublimation printing, the dyes vaporize and permeate the glossy surface of the paper before they return to solid form, creating a gentle gradation at the edges of each pixel. The color infuses the paper and is less vulnerable to fading and distortion over time.

Tri-chamber cartridges - A descriptive term for tri-color inkjet cartridges.

Tri-color cartridges - HP's descriptive name for tri-chamber ink cartridges.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) A fast input/output (I/O) data transfer standard used for connecting peripherals to a computer or controller. Typically, each device connected to a computer uses its own port. USB can connect up to 127 peripherals through a single port, and peripherals can be connected together. USB devices may be hot plugged, which means that power does not have to be turned off to connect or disconnect a peripheral. USB is becoming the primary means of connection for printers and other peripherals to PCs, and is supported by most major hardware, software and telecommunications providers.

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