top of page

What Is PostScript Printing?

Updated: Apr 1

In the commercial printing industry, various printing methods and technologies are available. One of the terms you may have encountered is PostScript printing. But what is PostScript printing?

Although it may be confusing for novice press operators, if you plan on using printing services often, we advise you to learn every method and technology available today, PostScript printing included.

What Is PostScript Printing?
Source: / Photo Contributor: Fahroni

What Is PostScript Printing?

It is a printing method used by experienced users with more complex application issues. PostScript printing is often required if you are attempting to print high-quality visuals and complex typography from several systems.

Unlike PDF, which is a display format, PostScript is a printer-control programming language. As such, PostScript printing streamlines print formats and designs according to the requirements through its code.

As a leading business printing company offering prepress services, we work with PostScript formats alongside PDF. With CityPress, you benefit from high-quality results, fast turnaround, and an expert team with special knowledge of PostScript printing.

A Brief Historical Overview

However, PostScript's turning point and implementation in the printing industry was thanks to none other than Apple's very own Steve Jobs. 

To clarify, at the same period Adobe started selling PostScript, Apple was working on producing the company's first laser printer, the LaserWriter.

During a visit to Adobe in 1983, Steve Jobs was impressed by the potential of PostScript to work as a printer language. Jobs licensed the PostScript technology, with Adobe making the necessary changes. 

After this, LaserWriter was the first printer powered by PostScript. This allowed the LaserWriter to print higher-quality graphics than all of its competitors. 

What Is PostScript Printing Used for?

Because PostScript printing is a page description language, it allows us to print digital files that integrate

  • Text

  • Images

  • Color Area Fills

Printers using PostScript technology can render text and graphics with incredible precision and accuracy on the page. Due to their flexibility and customization options, PostScript printers are widely utilized in commercial printing, publishing, and offices.

What Is PostScript Printing Used for?
Source: / Photo Contributor: Khomulo Anna

What Is a PostScript Printer?

Since PostScript is a programming language that we use to specify the appearance of the graphics and text on the printed page, we need a way to interpret it. For this purpose, we use a PostScript printer.

PostScript printers are equipped with a computer capable of running an interpreter to process files programmed with the PostScript language. The file is sent to the PostScript printer, which, after receiving it, runs it through the interpreter and then prints it.

How Does PostScript Printing Work?

Because PostScript considers text characters as graphical shapes, merging text and images is considerably simpler when printing. You may easily print papers, drawings, and images with PostScript printing, regardless of the resolution, color schemes, and platforms involved.

PostScript allows for concise repetitive patterns, color visualization, and exact color separations. PostScript printing supports multiple color platforms, including CMYK, RGB, and even pseudo-grayscale

PostScript Print File Format Advantages

PostScript printing's greatest benefit is its device independence. Working with PostScript will continue regardless of your platform or operating system.

It also allows switching between different systems without having to perform any conversions or format changes.

Thanks to its object-oriented behavior, we can input all the commands into the printer unified and all controlled by the PostScript programming language. This enables us to print any type of file (text, image, or graphic) without compromising quality.

PostScript printing allows us to provide our clients with the following benefits.

  • Higher Image Quality – with PostScript, you may expect unmatched accuracy of text and graphics rendering. This level of accuracy ensures crisp lines and smooth color transitions in the printing process.

  • Improved Image Technology – PostScript printing ensures reduced banding and enhanced output quality. This is thanks to the advanced smooth shading, and high-resolution gradient fills.

  • Extensive Font Set – with the extensive font set available on PostScript printers, you may have a large choice for your prints.

  • Direct PDF Printing – PostScript printers can also print PDFs, meaning even if your file is in a PDF format, they will print them out without compromising quality.

PostScript Printing vs. PDF formats

While PostScript (PS) is a print-control programming language, PDF (Portable Document Format) is a display file for documents also developed by Adobe

The PDF format is a successor to PostScript, but it does not have the code editing abilities. PostScript describes the layout of graphics and text on a printed page, while the file format on it is known as PDF.

The PS programming language allows us to streamline the print format according to the requirements we input through its code. In other words, a PDF is a PS (PostScript) file.

As such, PDFs can be printed on any printer without needing an interpreter because the file is interpreted and laid out on the page. But, not every printer is capable of interpreting PostScript. 

So, while PostScript printers can print PDFs, PostScript printing can only be done on them. 

Postscript Printing vs. PDF formats


What is PostScript printing? It is a printing method used in commercial printing for more complex applications. Unlike other file formats, PostScript is also a printer-control programming language requiring special knowledge.

PostScript printing prints complex typography from several systems, which is impossible with other formats.


bottom of page