Stands for "Pages Per Minute." PPM is used to measure the printing speed of both inkjet and laser printers. Most printers include a PPM rating for both black and color documents. These speed measurements are typically listed in the printer's technical specifications.

While a higher pages per minute rating does indicate a faster printing speed, this measurement can be misleading. This is because manufacturers measure the maximum PPM in the fastest printing mode, a.k.a. "economy mode," which is also the lowest quality. When printing in regular mode, the speed may be twice as slow. When printing in fine or high-quality mode, the speed will likely be reduced even further.

Furthermore, a printer's maximum PPM speed is measured using basic text pages, with no graphics, lines, or other objects. Therefore, if you have a text document that includes a picture, the page could take several times longer to print than a plain text document. If you are going to be printing a lot of color photos, make sure to check the printer's photo printing speed, which is often significantly slower than the printer's maximum PPM. Finally, the PPM measurement does not take into account how long it takes the printer to warm up and begin printing. Therefore, if you are only printing one or two pages, the warm up time may be longer than the actual time it takes to print the document.

In summary, PPM gives a general idea of how fast a printer is. But since there are several other variables involved that determine a printer's speed, PPM does not always accurately reflect a printer's speed. Therefore, when choosing a printer, it may be helpful to read some reviews about the printer you are interested in. The reviews may give you a better idea of the printer's real-world speed an quality than the numbers on the box do.

NOTE: PPM can also be used to measure a scanner's scanning speed. This measurement is particularly important for scanners that use an automatic document feeder ADF, which allows multiple documents to be scanned consecutively.

Updated December 28, 2007 by Per C.

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