Wiki - What is Raw Printing



Many thermal printers (such as Zebra or Epson manufactured printers) need special raw printer commands sent to them in order to perform certain functions (such as barcode printing, reciept printing, card printing, etc). These raw commands are usually sent as text in a proprietary syntax. This raw syntax is specified by the printer manufacturer (usually in the form of a developer's manual). Syntax will vary drastically between printer manufacturers and printer models.

Note: Raw commands often do not need the printer driver, and can be sent using the Generic/Text driver supplied with your operating system. (Except USB printers, which sometimes require the device driver along side the Generic/Text driver).

A confusing trait is that even when specifying "raw" mode in the properties of your print driver, most applications won't send the raw printer commands to your printer correctly. In a simple test case, a Windows workstation printing with Notepad will not print raw commands properly. QZ Tray will.

Raw Printing can be summarized as any text-based printing method. This may be a dot-matrix printer, this may be an impact printer, however, in the case of Shipping and Point Of Sale industries, Raw Printing is more commonly a vendor specified programming language that the web developer must understand and adapt for printing thermal labels and receipts. These labels and receipts are generally Black & White and can have barcodes, logos, bold, centering, etc. Raw Printing is also capable of doing some advanced features such as cutting receipt paper, kicking out cash drawers, encoding credit cards, etc. QZ Tray can send these raw commands via all major Desktop web browsers.

Does My Printer Support Raw Printing? What Raw Languages Should I Look For?

For most printers, look for a technical specification or guide that refers to ZPL, EPL, ESCP, FGL, CPCL, EPCL. Note, ZPLII, EPL2, ESC/POS are, for the most part, synonymous with their abbreviated counterparts. If your printer specification lists ESC/POS Emulation or ZPL Emulation, then Raw Printing will also work.

My web service provides a PDF... Can I print that?

Yes, but not using Raw Printing. First, check with your provider if they support one of the raw languages below. If not, you may need to read What is PostScript Printing?

Common Raw Printing Languages:

Language not listed? Unable to determine? Please email

Common Terminology


Raw Printing is still the overwhelmingly preferred method of printing for thermal printers and is the recommended printing method by QZ Industries -- if supported by your hardware. For further information, please obtain the Programmer's Guide for your specific printer hardware.

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