Copier Terms & Definitions

ADF Automatic Document Feeder. The abbreviation ADF on its own refers to the
simplest type of feeder that is able to process only single-sided originals (in
contrast to RADFs which can also handle double-sided ones).
ADFs on analog copiers require sorter bins in order to produce multiple sets
of multi-page documents – the machine makes all the copies of each page in
a batch, depositing one copy in each sorter bin.
ADFs on digital copiers do not require sorter bins if the unit operates with
scan-once/print-many technology – the originals are instead scanned to
memory, and complete sets are output sequentially on top of one another in a
catch tray. Check out the capacity of the ADF (typically 30 – 50 sheets) and
the speed at which it operates (typically the same as the engine speed of the
copier it works with but sometimes a bit slower.
Analog Traditional copier technology, employing the “light lens” method to reproduce
originals (as opposed to scanning them electronically as on digital copiers).

Bypass (Tray) Allows you to feed non-standard paper without having to put it in one of the
main paper trays. Useful when you want to feed paper that’s especially
difficult to copy onto – for example, very light or heavy paper – as the paper
path is straighter and the chances of jamming are reduced. Most copiers
have a bypass of some sort. With some you can feed only one sheet at a
time, while others allow you to stack up to 50 or 100 sheets.

Catch tray Simple output tray that receives copied pages. Buyers of analog units with
RADFs require sorter bins in place of catch trays if they want to produce
collated output. Digital units with scan once/print many are able to deliver
collated sets to catch trays with out the need for sorter bins.
Click Charge A cost per copy charge that is levied to cover both the capital component and
the operating cost of owning a photocopier. The click charge generally relies
on meeting a minimum monthly copy volume and is calculated by the supplier
by adding the standard copy charge to the monthly rental component. To
work out the net cost per copy (Click charge) you have to work to an agreed
copy volume. Click charges form the basis of most Copy Plan agreements.
Controller In a copier context, this refers to a device that upgrades a digital copier into a
multifunctional device with a printer function. Can be either an internal device
built into the copier or an external one (sometimes based on PC hardware)
that sits next to it. Sometimes referred to as “RIP” (raster image processor).
Copy accounting see copy auditing
Copy auditing Feature that restricts access to authorized persons and/or records details of
usage. Can be useful when copies have to be expensed to departments or
billed to clients. Typically operates by means of users entering PIN codes on
a copiers control panel. Check out the number of accounts the feature can
handle – typically anything from fewer than 50 to several thousand. Also
check the number of digits in the account codes. If you find that the inbuilt
capabilities don’t meet your needs, consider a third-party add-on.
Copy charge Usually refers to a fixed rate (cents per copy) used to cover the maintenance
of a copier as distinct from the capital component of the unit (ie. purchase,
rent or lease cost).
The copy charge generally covers the operating cost of a unit providing all
preventative maintenance costs, toner, and drum replacement in addition to
the replacement of most items subject to wear and tear.
In some instances the copy charge can cover the capital component by
adding this to the operating charge – this is often called a “click charge”.
Custom message
Feature found on certain digital copiers that enables you to have a message
stamped on copies and that allows you to vary what the message is (in
contrast to a more limited feature that restricts you to a few factory-preset
messages such as “Urgent”, “Confidential”, etc).

Date/time stamping Feature found on some digital copiers allowing you to have the date and time
stamped on copies as they are made.
Digital State-of-the-art copier technology. Digital copiers scan and digitize originals
before reproducing them (as opposed to using the analog “light lens” method)
essentially; they are converting images to computerized data. All
multifunctional copiers are digital, though not all digital copiers are
Duplex Double-sided copying. Keep in mind that double-sided copying results in
slower operation – manufacturers do not publish duplex speeds. Most
machines use the internal tray method of duplexing, where sheets are
stacked after the first side has been copied prior to being copied on the other
side. Note that the number of double-sided copies that can be made in a
single run is limited by the capacity of the duplex tray – typically 50 sheets,
but sometimes less.
Some machines (especially digital units) instead use a stackless method of
duplexing – this frees you from the run-length constraint of the tray method.


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Finisher Output device, usually with an automatic-stapling device. For reasons having
more to do with copier history than logic, the verb “to finish” is generally used
only to describe the stapling process that occurs with output catch trays
(OCT), not the stapling function carried out by stapler-sorters. The word
“finisher” is often used to describe the entire OCT/stapling device, not just the
stapling part – i.e., if you hear someone say a unit has a finisher, offset
stacking is implied. Finishing on OCT equipped units often takes place
without any material effect on job time, in contrast with stapling on staplersorters,
which invariable adds to job time.



Image Rotation Feature on some digital copiers that automatically align the image with the
paper when the correct orientation isn’t present to begin with. Can also be
used to deliver alternate sets rotated at a 90-degree angle for separation
purposes when producing multiple copies of multi-page documents (this
works with paper fed long- and short-edge from two different trays).
However, this has a negative impact on job times and is only appropriate on
entry-level digital configurations where there is not catch tray with mechanical
Image Shift Common feature allowing you to shift the image of your original a little way
across the page to leave a margin for binding. With duplex copiers, the
margin position can be altered automatically from left to right side of a bound
document. Also known as “margin shift”.
Insert mode Feature allowing you to program a job so that selected pages – the start of
new sections within a document, for example – can be copied onto different
paper drawn from one of the other paper trays. You can generally copy onto
the insert sheets, as opposed to just having the unit insert blank ones. Also
known as “sheet insertion”.
Some vendors have a “post engine cover insertion” mode whereby covers
can be added at the output stage (finisher) without having the problem of
feeding thicker card stock through the fusing rollers. This can be an
advantage if you need to put thicker covers around booklets.

Job Memory Feature allowing you to program a sequence of instructions needed to
execute a complicated copying job, so that you can set it all in motion at the
press of just one or two buttons.
Not to be confused with the image memory that holds scanned copies on a
digital unit.


LCT / LCB Large-capacity tray. Generally refers to a paper tray holding 1,000 sheets or
more. Can also be referred to as a Large Capacity Bin (LCB)
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Lease A form of financing the capital component of a copier that relies on spreading
the cost across a number of payments over a fixed lease term. Similar but
different to rental schemes.
A finance lease is what is normally offered by vendors and relies on a set
“residual” to determine the rates (ie. monthly lease charge). At the end of
term, payment of the residual amount (usually expressed as a percentage of
the purchase price) will transfer ownership of the unit from the finance
company to you.
An operating lease is different from a finance lease in that there is no
obligation for you to payout the residual and assumes ownership of the goods
at the end of lease term. You may, however, be able to purchase the goods
at fair market value or extend the lease at reduced rates. In simple terms, an
operating lease is like a rental scheme but with more flexible end-of-lease
Network Interface Card (NIC)
Required for networking a multifunctional copier-printer. The most common
standard is Ethernet, which comes in two main flavors: 10BaseT and the
newer and faster 100BaseT. The NIC is often part of the controller and not
priced separately. In some cases, however, it is presented as a separate

Mobile Capture- The ability to create and capture documents and upload them on the fly.

OCT Offset catch tray. A device that receives copied pages, mechanically
offsetting each

Paper drawers/trays We tend to use the words “drawer” and “tray” interchangeably when talking
about paper supplies. These days, the standard paper supplies are almost
always frontloading, as are some options, but large-capacity trays holding
1,000 sheets or more may be attached to the side of the copier. Check out
both the number of paper trays and their capacities.
Platen The glass surface on which originals are placed for copying. With a
document feeder, your originals are transported to and from the platen
automatically; the only occasions you manually copy from the platen tend to
be with originals that are awkward or impossible to feed. Platen sizes vary
and can be typically A3 or A2 sized.
In most digital units, the original is passed across a scanning window rather
than being deposited on the platen for copying as they are in analog copiers.
In digital units, therefore, the platen is used solely for the manual feeding of
PPM (Pages Per Minute)- Measure of a unit’s engine speed when making A4-size copies. Many people
use “copies per minute” (cpm) instead, though ppm is also appropriate for
multi-functional units with both copy and print functions – either way, the
ppm and cpm figures are the same.
The ppm/cpm speed is best viewed as that which the copier is guaranteed
not to exceed, not that which it will generally maintain in real-life jobs. In
practice, the selection of features such as double-sided copying, stapling and
sorting can all impact real-life speeds, and short-run work will generally result
in fewer copies per minute being made than on longer-run work.
Productivity Aside from general uses, this word in a copier context refers to the actual
number of copies made per minute on a given job as a proportion of the
quoted engine speed.


RADF Reversing Automatic Document Feeder. A type of document feeder that can
handle double as well as single sided originals in contrast to an ADF that
work only with single-sided originals.
RADFs on analogue copiers require sorter bins in order to produce multiple
sets of multi-page documents – the unit makes all the copies of each page in
a batch, depositing one copy in each sorter bin. RADFs on digital copiers do
not require sorter bins, providing the unit operating with scan-once/print many
technology. The originals are instead scanned to memory and complete sets
are output sequentially on top of one another in a catch tray. Check out the
capacity of the RADF (typically 30 – 50 sheets) and the speed at which it
operates “typically the same as the engine speed of the copier it works with,
but sometimes a bit slower).
RDF Recirculating Document Feeder. A term used to describe a hybrid document
feeder with elements of RADF and RDH technology.
An RDF can work with either sorter bins or an OCT. When used with certain
sorters, it can automatically resume copying when the bins are emptied if you
need more than 20 sets – this is because the originals are returned to the
“ready” position, as opposed to being ejected as with an RADF.
RDH Recirculating Document Handler. A type of document feeder found on some
analogue copiers that enables you to produce multiple collated copies of
multi-page documents without the need for sorter bins. Found mostly in the
high-volume range.
An RDH copies one complete set after another by constantly recirculating the
originals (as opposed to making all the copies of each page in a batch).
Works with an output device called an offset catch tray (OCT) or finisher that
received and with finishers – staples the sets as they are output, offsetting
each one slightly for separation purposes. The main benefit is that it removes
the quantity restraint on multi-page collated copying imposed by the number
of sorter bins. (The only limit is the capacity of the OCT itself, which varies
from 500 – 2000 sheets). Another benefit that the auto stapling process at the
output end can have no noticeable effect on job time (in contrast to autostapling
on sorters, which adds to job time). The main drawback is that the
constant recirculating of originals raises the risk of miss-feeds and
damage/marking to originals.
RDH technology offers nothing you can’t get on digital machines with scan
once / print many that use conventional document feeders – for this reason,
RDHs have limited future with the introduction of digital copiers.
Reduction/enlargement Feature allowing users to either reduce or enlarge an image when producing
copies. Most modern copiers come standard with this capability. See also
Rental A form of financing the acquisition of a copier that relies on spreading the
cost across a number of payments over a fixed rental term. Similar, but
slightly different to a lease plan.
Rental differs from a lease plan in that there is no residual amount that can
be paid at the end of term and assume ownership of the unit. Usually, the
unit is returned to the vendor.
Residual An amount, usually expressed as a percentage of the purchase price (but can
be a fixed amount of dollars), that is used in a lease plan. The residual, along
with the lease term can determine the repayment rates. Payment of the
residual amount at the end of lease transfers ownership from the finance
company to you.
Resolution A quantitative measure of how a digital copier scans and prints copies.
Generally 400 dpi or 600 dpi, the higher number being better (600 dpi means
that the scanned image consists of 600 x 600 or 360,000 dots to the square
inch). It is possible for the scan resolution to be higher than the resolution at
which the copies are actually output – typically, however it is the same.

Scan once – print many Used to describe the reproduction method of digital units that scan in a copy
of the original image once, digitize the image and store it and use this to
reproduce many copies. By contrast, with analog copiers, you may have to
reload and “scan” the image on a number of occasions if the number of
required copies exceeds the capacity of the sorter bins.
Scan while print Enhanced version of scan once/print many that allows users to scan a copy
job while the unit is in the process of printing (or outputting a previously
scanned copy job). Some digital machines lack this capability and of those
that have it, most are unable to scan more than one job ahead. It is handy for
reducing contention on multifunctional units when different people are tying to
use the same machine.
Simplex Refers to single-sided copying (in contrast with duplex, which is double
Sorter A multi-bin device for collating pages as you make multiple copies of multipage
originals. Typically used on analog copiers working with ADFs and
RADFs. Also used on digital units lacking scan-once/print many technology.
Check out the number of bins (generally 10 or 20) and the bin capacity
(generally 20 – 50 sheets). The number of bins generally represents the limit
on the number of sets that can be copied in an uninterrupted operation.
Stapler-sorter A type of sorter device that staples copied sets automatically after the pages
have been delivered to the bins. Typically used on analog copiers working
with ADFs and RADFs.
As with regular sorters, the number of bins generally represents the limit on
the number of sets that can be copied in an uninterrupted operation. Stapling
adds to job time – e.g. about 35 seconds for 20 sets. Look at the maximum
number of sheets that can be stapled.
This generally varies from 2 to 50 sheets (it may be less than the capacity of
the bins for unstapled sheets). Also check out the number of staples and
staple positions – less expensive models can only put in one staple in the top
left corner of a letter size page.
Important: you need a multi-position stapler-sorter if you want to staple legal
sets with the staple in the top left corner.

Touch screen display Touch sensitive user interface allowing users to program features through a
series of menus and submenus when setting the machine up for a job.
Touch screens are only as good as the software behind it – it’s generally not
bad, but can be overrated benefit. Avoid making the availability of a touch
screen as the ultimate test for user friendliness.
Feature that automatically inserts slip (white) sheets for separation purposes
when you’re copying onto transparencies. Makes handling copied
transparencies much more manageable. A machine may give you the choice
of copying onto the slip-sheets or leaving them blank, or it may be able to do
only one of those things. Also known in as “OHP interleaving”






Document Management

Duplexing– The process of double sided printing

MFP– Mulit-Function Peripheral or Multi-Function Product- An office machine that copies, prints, scans, and faxes.

MFD– Multi-Function Device-

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