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What Does PostScript Mean?

PostScript is an object-oriented programming language developed by Adobe Systems and used to provide a standard for different systems that handle page printing tasks. Printers can either interpret PostScript or have extra software packages installed to help them interpret it.


Object-oriented graphics furnish high resolution output devices in contrast to bit map graphics.

Techopedia Explains PostScript

Adobe developed PostScript in 1985, but the concept was put forth by John Warnock and Charles Geschke in 1982. It is an object-oriented language because it treats images as geometrical objects and not bit maps. The language quickly became a printing and imaging standard.

Because it is a very accurate standard, PostScript is used by high-resolution laser printers to place both text and graphics on the same page. PostScript-based documents can also be presented on output devices other than printing devices.

Due to its wide variety of features, PostScript is considered a programming language rather than just a printing standard. PostScript contains different codes used to describe both text and graphics in either black-and-white or color-compatible formats.

The three main PostScript versions are:

  • PostScript Level 1: The first version of PostScript on the market
  • PostScript Level 2: Introduced in 1991; featured faster speed and reliability as well and image decompression and multiple font support
  • PostScript Level 3: Introduced in 1997; provided improved color handling and new filters

Both PostScript and Portable Document Format (PDF) are Adobe-developed formats, so it is easy to convert documents from one format to the other.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.