Understanding Printer Model Names, Numbers & Acronyms
By Simon Williams - 30th Oct 2023

It can be all too easy to look at the string of letters and numbers that make up a printer model name as just gibberish that may only make sense to the manufacturers themselves, but the fact of the matter is that you can learn a lot about a printer based on its name. All you really need to do is learn how to understand printer model names and the numbers accompanying them.

Whilst some numbers may take on different meanings with respect to the printer manufacturers themselves, other letters and numbers can actually hold universal meanings, some of which we’ll be taking a closer look at in this blog post.

How to find your printer model number?

If you have a printer of your own, it may be worthwhile using your own printer model number and the letters that act as suffixes to your printer model number as a reference to guide you through the rest of this blog post.

If you’re not entirely sure of what your printer’s model number is, you’ll most likely be able to find it either on your printer by its LCD display, or in rare instances, at the back or sides of your printer or by its power socket and other ports.

If you don’t have a printer on hand, we’ll be using the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479FDW Printer as a reference point as we look at the meanings behind the letters in printer model names below.

The most common letters found in printer model names

Here are the meanings behind some of the most common letters found in printer model names:

BT Your printer has Bluetooth functionality.
C/M/B Your printer can print in Colour. Contrastingly, Monochrome printers or printers that only print in Black, may be marked with an ‘M’ or a ‘B’.
F Your printer has Fax functionality.
H Refers to printers with Hard Disks included for remembering specific print jobs. These printers can be useful for workplaces who regularly print similar types of documents like forms.
I An ‘i’ denotes that your printer has Imaging abilities. This generally means the printer itself is equipped with memory card readers.
MFC/MFP Multi-Function Copier/Multi-Function Printer, or a printer that can copy, scan, print, and fax, although faxing is rapidly becoming an increasingly separate function, hence the introduction of ‘F’ as an additional letter in printer models with fax capabilities.
N Your printer has Network capabilities. Generally, this either means your printer has an ethernet port, or it has wireless networking capabilities (NW).
T Your printer comes with an additional paper Tray.
W Your printer has Wireless capabilities and can be connected up to a local wireless network.
X ‘X’ can often be used for printers with a great variety of capabilities. ‘X’ is usually used by manufacturers to differentiate their premium or flagship models.

Using the breakdown of these letters, we can gain a clearer understanding of any printer model just by looking at the series of letters in that printer’s model name. 

For instance, our example printer, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479FDW Printer, appears to be a Multifunction printer with fax and wireless capabilities that will automatically print documents as double-sided (duplex).

Understanding the numbers used in printer model names

Printer model numbers can reveal information that’s more specific to the printer manufacturers themselves rather than the industry as a whole. A manufacturer may name a model based on what generation it is or what its functionalities are in relation to other models found in that overarching model series. 

For instance, the Epson XP-2100 has no LCD display and a paper capacity of 50 sheets, making it Epson’s most basic home printer currently on the market. With the XP-3100, printer users will have the luxuries of a 1.44” colour LCD display and a paper capacity of 100 sheets. With the XP-4100, printer specs improve even further, with all the specifications of the XP-3100 and a larger 2.4” colour LCD as well. Finally, the Epson XP-5100 has all of what’s offered on the other models in this generation of XPs, as well as a paper capacity of 150 sheets, and a memory card reader.

Understanding the ways that different manufacturers assign model numbers to their printer models, can help you ascertain whether or not the printer model you’re looking to purchase will offer the maximum capacities or functionalities that that manufacturer may be able to provide.

How do different manufacturers name their printer models?

You may be wondering what the ‘XP’ means in the Epson XP-2100, or just how other letters that aren’t on the list outlined above still find their way into printer model names. The answer to this is largely dependent on the manufacturer, as different printer manufacturers have their own signature series of models, like the XP or ‘Xpression’ selection of home printers. 

Here are some of the most common printer series you’ll find from each big name printer manufacturer.

1. HP Home & Office Printer Model Names

Following the release of the HP Smart app, HP has largely streamlined their printer model naming process, using full words to notate which series a printer belongs to rather than a string of letters that may only make sense to retailers or to the manufacturer themselves.

Now, it’s common for HP printers to belong to clearly-defined series, like the OfficeJet printers, Smart Tank printers, and their signature HP Envy series.

HP generally only uses letters in their line of office printer models, and if that printer happens to be an MFP or M (monochrome) model, like the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M428FDN.

2. Epson XP, ET, & WF Printer Model Names

As specified earlier, ‘XP’ refers to Xpression, Epson’s signature line of home printers. Any Epson models that are marked as ‘ET’ are EcoTanks, these being Epson printers that don’t take traditional ink cartridges, opting instead for extra high yield ink bottles.

Any Epson printer bearing ‘WF’ in its name, is part of Epson’s WorkForce series of office printers. These printers can also be differentiated by their larger copy capacity and space for additional paper trays.

3. Canon Maxify & Pixma Inkjet Printer Model Names

Like HP, Canon has also streamlined its process of printer model naming to include just a handful of well-defined printer series, the most notable amongst these being the Pixma and MAXIFY. 

Canon also commonly uses the letter ‘X’ to differentiate between premium printer models within a series like the Canon Pixma IX6860 Inkjet Printer that can print in A3, and their flagship printers like the Canon Pro.

Using printer model names to find the perfect printer for you

With your newfound understanding of the meanings behind printer model names and numbers, you should now be able to find a printer that aligns best with your personal needs with minimal fuss! Simply keep the hidden meanings behind the letters outlined above in mind as you browse through our selection of home and office printers.

Want to know more about the range of printers and printer supplies we have here at Cartridges Direct? Contact us today to speak to one of our specialists about finding the right printing solutions for you and your family or business.

Explore Popular Articles