Printing is the act of creating texts and images on paper. Historically this has been done using an ink-based printing process but today most people use laser, ink jet or other computer-based printers for their everyday printing needs.
One of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China was movable type. This allowed for each Chinese character to be carved into its own block of ink and then assembled as needed on the press. This enabled the production of text in thousands of characters, enhancing learning and cultural pursuits in Song China.
Another high quality and expensive printing technique is gravure, which uses direct contact between an etched copper plate and the paper. It is used for such items as catalogs, magazines and annual reports. A variant of gravure is rotogravure, which produces higher volumes at lower cost.
The printing industry was greatly boosted by the industrial revolution. Machines to speed printing, cheaper paper and automatic stitching and binding allowed for much greater printing runs at lower prices, making newspapers available to more and more people.
Reprographics, also known as photocopying or xerography is electrostatic printing, in which toner sticks to a charged drum and then gets thermally fused onto paper, usually black and white but nowadays often color. Most office printers and transactional printers are based on this technology. These machines are more common than laser or ink jet printers, which require a larger initial investment but produce many times more pages per minute and can be used to print both black and color documents.