What is a cartridge in a printer

What do the abbreviations for printer consumables stand for?

The color codes printed on the cartridges and toner show you which color is contained in the offered printer cartridge. Inkjet printers mostly work with the so-called CMYK color model. This color model is composed as follows:

The color codes for printer cartridges

  • C = cyan / blue
  • M = magenta / red
  • Y = yellow
  • K = Black / Black

The abbreviation K for black comes from the English for key plate ("Key plate"). The three colored plates are aligned on the base line of the printing press plate responsible for black. The term comes from industrial printing technology and not from the manufacturers of the ink cartridges.

Some inkjet printers now even work with other colors. With these additional, light color tones or gray, the transitions in light color areas of the printouts should be better graded. Some HP photo printers, Canon plotters or Epson photo printers use this technology.

The color codes for photo printers

  • G = gray / gray
  • LG = Light Gray
  • LM = light magenta / light red
  • LC = light cyan / light blue
  • PC = Photo Cyan / Photo Blue

  • PM = Photo Magenta / Photo Red
  • PBK = Photo Black / Photo Black
  • MBK = Matte Black / Matt Black


Some manufacturers also offer other colors:

  • DGY = Dark Gray
  • R = red / red
  • G = green
  • B = blue

Special cartridges for a protective cover

Another abbreviation has been used recently. The "T". It stands for a varnish (topcoat) that should cover the expression and make it lightfast. And when it comes to photo printouts, the surface should of course shine, that's what the gloss optimizer, CO.

  • T = topcoat / protective lacquer
  • CO = Chroma Optimizer / Gloss Optimizer

These abbreviations are often used, especially for multipacks or economy packages, to list the contents of the ink cartridges in the economy package. The abbreviation "K" for black is used for toner.