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Photocopy vs. Photostat: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 5, 2024
Photocopy refers to a duplicate made using a photocopier, while a photostat is an outdated duplicating process using a Photostat machine.

Key Differences

A photocopy is created using a photocopier, a modern machine that uses light, lenses, and toner to create duplicates of documents or images. Photocopiers are widespread in offices and commercial copying centers. In contrast, a photostat is a type of copy produced by a Photostat machine, an early duplication device invented in the early 20th century. It produced a negative photograph of a document on roll film, which was then used to make a positive copy.
The term "photocopy" is commonly used today and is synonymous with making duplicates of documents or images using a contemporary photocopier. "Photostat", on the other hand is now an archaic term, primarily referencing the historical method of copying documents using the specific Photostat machine. This process is largely obsolete.
Photocopies offer high-quality, accurate reproductions, with modern photocopiers capable of producing color copies, enlargements, and reductions. Photostats, in contrast, often had lower quality, were generally black and white, and were limited in terms of size and scale of reproduction.
Photocopiers are easily accessible in many settings, and photocopying is a quick process, allowing for rapid duplication of multiple copies. While, photostat machines were less common, used mainly in specific professional contexts, and the process was slower and more cumbersome compared to modern photocopying.
Photocopying technology has evolved significantly, with modern machines incorporating digital technology, network connectivity, and multifunction capabilities (printing, scanning, etc.). The Photostat process has been entirely replaced by more advanced technologies like digital scanning and photocopying, and it holds relevance primarily in historical contexts.

Comparison Chart


Uses light, lenses, and toner
Used a photographic process


Common and contemporary
Historical and obsolete


High-quality, color options available
Generally lower quality, black and white

Accessibility and Speed

Widely available, fast
Limited availability, slower

Evolution and Relevance

Continuously evolving, highly relevant
No longer used, of historical interest only

Photocopy and Photostat Definitions


A duplicate of a document made using a photocopier.
I need a photocopy of your ID for our records.


A historical term for a type of photographic copy.
The museum's exhibit includes photostats of early 20th-century newspapers.


The act of reproducing a document using a photocopier.
Could you photocopy these reports for the meeting?


A black and white copy produced by a Photostat machine.
We found an old photostat of the building's original blueprint.


A process involving the use of light to replicate documents.
The office assistant spent the morning photocopying invoices.


An early form of photocopy using a photographic process.
The archive contains photostats of original historical documents.


A machine-based method of copying textual or graphic material.
We have a new photocopy machine that also scans and prints.


A dated method of document reproduction, now mostly obsolete.
My grandfather's office still has a functioning Photostat machine.


A paper copy created from a digital or physical original.
The teacher handed out photocopies of the study guide to the class.


The process of duplicating documents using a Photostat machine.
Before modern copiers, we used to photostat important letters.


To make a photographic reproduction of (printed or graphic material), especially by xerography.


A photographic device for making positive or negative copies of graphic matter.


A photographic or xerographic reproduction.


A copy made with such a device.


A copy made using a photocopier.


(dated) A photocopy, especially one made by a Photostat machine.


To make a copy using a photocopier.


A photocopy made using a photocopier.


A photographic copy of written or printed or graphic work


Positive (black on white) or negative (white on black) reproduction of printed matter or artwork made on a photostat machine, which uses photographic paper instead of a transparent negative, and uses a prism to render the paper negative readable instead of reversed.


Reproduce by xerography


(transitive) To make such a photocopy of.


A photocopy made on a Photostat machine


A duplicating machine that makes quick positive or negative copies directly on the surface of prepared paper


Make a copy by means of a Photostat device


Can photocopies be in color?

Yes, modern photocopiers can produce color copies.

Is photostat still used today?

No, photostat is largely obsolete and has been replaced by modern photocopying.

How does a photocopier work?

A photocopier uses light, lenses, and toner to create a duplicate of a document.

Were photostats in color?

No, photostats were typically black and white.

What is a photostat?

A photostat is an outdated type of copy made using a Photostat machine.

What kind of paper is used for photocopies?

Standard office paper is typically used for photocopies.

Can photocopies be enlarged or reduced?

Yes, modern photocopiers can enlarge or reduce the size of the copies.

What is a photocopy?

A photocopy is a duplicate of a document made using a photocopier.

Were special papers needed for photostats?

Photostats required specific photographic paper for the process.

Can photocopiers do more than just copy?

Yes, many modern photocopiers also print, scan, and fax.

Did the photostat process take longer?

Yes, creating a photostat was a slower process compared to modern photocopying.

Were photostats used for any specific purposes?

Photostats were often used for legal and archival purposes.

What has replaced the photostat in modern times?

Digital scanning and photocopying technologies have replaced the photostat.

Is photocopying faster than photostatting?

Yes, photocopying is generally faster than the photostat process.

Was the photostat machine large?

Yes, Photostat machines were generally large and bulky.

Can photocopies be digitally stored?

Yes, many photocopiers can digitize documents for electronic storage.

Is there a difference in the quality of photocopies and photostats?

Yes, photocopies generally have higher quality and resolution compared to photostats.

Can photocopies be made from digital files?

Yes, modern photocopiers can print copies from digital files.

How long does a photocopy take?

A photocopy can be made in a matter of seconds.

Are photocopies more accessible than photostats?

Yes, photocopiers are more widely available and accessible than Photostat machines were.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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