What’s the difference between ink and toner?

Lots More Information

Author's Note: What's the difference between ink and toner?

My first home printer wasn't an inkjet or laser printer. It was, instead, a dot-matrix printer. That old-school printer worked something like a typewriter, using a print head that smacked against an ink-laced ribbon to make iconic dotted, grainy text. The sounds that printer made were just as memorable. It was an industrial whirring that after a few pages would drive you right out of the room. Our modern inkjet and laser printers, although far from silent, are quieter and better in every aspect.

Related Stories


  • Adorama. "FAQ: What's the Difference Between Dye-Based and Pigment Ink?" April 26, 2011. (July 23, 2015) http://www.adorama.com/alc/0013006/article/FAQ-Whats-The-Difference-Between-Dye-Based-and-Pigment-Ink
  • Consumer Reports. "Printer Buying Guide." July 2015. (July 23, 2015) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/printers/buying-guide.htm
  • Ganson Engineering. "Color Laser vs. Inkjet Printer." (July 23, 2015) http://www.ganson.com/TCO-For-Color.html
  • Image Specialists. "How Inkjet Printers Work." (July 23, 2015) http://www.image-specialists.com/ink_int_injet_printer.aspx
  • Nadel, Brian. "How Laser Printing Works." IT World. Oct. 4, 2010. (July 23, 2015) http://www.itworld.com/article/2749724/hardware/how-laser-printing-works.html
  • Robinson, David. "Inkjet or Laser Printing: Which Is More Cost-Effective?" The Guardian. March 30, 2013. (July 23, 2015) http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/mar/30/inkjet-or-laser-printing-cost-effective
  • Simmons, Lee. "Inside Laser Printer Toner: Wax, Static and Lots of Plastic." Wired. March 23, 2015. (July 23, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2015/03/whats-inside-printer-toner/