what is the difference between the toner and the ink toner?

I really don't understand, is the ink toner the same meaning as the ink?

please help me! thanks in advance!

  • 15
    I've never heard the term "ink toner". Can you provide a quote from the source? Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 4:25
  • I have seen this sentence in a Toeic exam book: "please note that we would like the ink toner that we have ordered in the past to be replaced by a different brand as indicated" Does the phrase "ink toner" exist or is there a mistake in this sentence, bro? Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 4:59
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    As I said, I have never heard it, and I don't find it in any of the dictionaries at onelook.com. I don't find a clear example of the term by a google search. I think of ink as a liquid, and toner as a powder. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 5:16
  • 4
    My guess would be that this TOEIC book was written by a non-native English speaker, and this sentence was either missed or not checked at all by editors who speak the language natively. Or, it being a plausible-sounding technical term, the editors simply did not know it was incorrect. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 17:14
  • 1
    Oxford has "a fluid or paste" for ink. I can see how someone might reasonably extend "ink" to a dry pigment, such as (a) might be added to a liquid to make ink or (b) fulfils the function of ink, as in the case of toner. I wouldn't do that myself, though. And I definitely wouldn't use the combination "ink toner". Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 18:32

3 Answers 3


Ink and Toner are two different things.

Ink is a liquid substance and is used in some kinds of printers, such as "ink-jet" printers. The ink usually comes in cartridges, and sometimes these cartridges can be refilled with ink. As the ink is liquid, it is projected onto the paper (which is why they are called ink jet printers), and once on the paper it needs to 'dry'. The ink can sometimes smudge if you touch it too soon after printing. Once dry, it won't smudge.

Toner is the dry, powder-like substance used by laser/LED printers and most photocopiers. It also comes in cartridges which sometimes can be refilled with toner. Toner does the same job as ink in that it prints an image onto your page, but it works in a completely different way. It is drawn onto the paper in powder form using an electrically-charged drum or belt and then 'fused' to the paper using heat. It shouldn't smudge after printing, but if it hasn't fused properly then it can wipe off the paper. Leaving it won't help because toner is already "dry". The fuser is also a consumable item in most laser printers and smudging may be an indicator this is faulty.

I worked in IT support for 17 years and never heard the term "ink toner" used. Sure, lots of people who don't understand printers say "ink" when they mean toner, but among IT professionals you do not hear that term.

  • 5
    Correct - I have never heard of "ink toner" either. You couldn't use liquid ink in a laser printer, it doesn't even work the same way.
    – user103227
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 7:49
  • 1
    It would make an awful mess of the fuser and ruin the drum(s). Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 8:15
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    I agree with you, it's technically incorrect but what happens when "lots of people" use ink instead of toner and such use is registered in dictionaries [Cambridge] -> toner: ink for a printer or photocopier? Is it incorrect from the point of view of language? Is invalid in the exam mentioned by the OP in his comment?
    – RubioRic
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 9:56
  • 1
    @RubioRic I suspect it is a bad translation in his exam book. Maybe they call it that in other languages? I'm a native British English speaker and a Brother certified printer technician, I'm confident my answer to the question is correct.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 10:20
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    @Astralbee I'm not saying that your answer is wrong. I insist, I completely agree with what you have stated. I'm not doubting your expertise in the printing field. toner = ink is in dictionaries and people use it that way whether you and me like it or not.
    – RubioRic
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 10:31

The word "toner" does have other uses as well as "powder used in photocopiers and laser printers". For example

  • A liquid used to clean skin, hair, etc by removing oil.
  • An exercise machine or device for a part of the body, e.g. a "tummy toner"
  • A liquid chemical solution for changing the color of black-and-white photographs, e.g. a "sepia toner".

However "ink toner" is not a commonly used phrase, though I suppose in some contexts it would be useful to specify exactly what type of toner was meant, since it is shorter than saying something like "photocopier toner".

Ref: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/toner

  • 3
    Good answer. This is a plausible reason why "ink toner" might be used, even though it's not a normal phrase. But even then, I would expect the clarifying phrase to be "printer toner"! Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 18:34

Could also be an implied but unread slash between the two words.

If the example text read

we would like the ink/toner to be a different brand

then it becomes more obvious that the Speaker means a different brand of ink and a different brand of toner, and there's an implicit "... where appropriate"

It would be unusual for any site with multiple printers, to all use the same consumable. This is shorthand for saying "all of the ink cartridges and toner cartridges."

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