Toner Vs. Ink: 5-Minute Guide to Learn the Difference

Both toner and ink are used in the printing process, but are they the same? No, they aren’t.

TLDR: A toner is a powdery substance used to print on a laser printer. Meanwhile, ink is a liquid used to print on an inkjet printer. Toner and ink are both used to produce texts and images – but just on different printer types.

What is Printer Toner?

Printer toners are powdered pigments that bond with paper when heated. They’re made using finely ground plastic as the base, and may include additives like polypropylene, fumed silica, and a variety of minerals to help with the printing process.

What is Printer Ink?

Printer ink is an oil-based liquid that’s dyed or pigmented and used to stain paper in a meticulous in the printer. The material composition of black printer ink includes

carbon black pigment, a binder, solvent, and several other additives like chelating, drying, and opacifying agents. Pretty complex stuff, right?

Wondering if toner or ink is right for you? Both toner and ink have their own pros and cons, which we’ll be covering below:

The Pros and Cons of Printer Toner


  • Allows for faster printing
  • Tends to produce higher quality results (with some exceptions)
  • Doesn’t dry out since it’s already in a powdered form
  • Produces more images and text before running out than ink
  • Lasts longer than ink


  • Laser printers (which use toner) are more expensive upfront than inkjets
  • Refilling toner cartridges can get expensive

The Pros and Cons of Printer Ink


  • Less likely chance of smudging via ink and inkjet printers
  • Initial cost of inkjet printers is more affordable than laser printers
  • Replacement ink cartridges tend to be cheaper


  • Printer ink can dry out and this may affect the quality and usability of the ink
  • Ink cartridges may clog up
  • Ink depletes faster and will need to be replaced more often than toner
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