Mask defects are of increasing concern for future lithography generations. The improved resolution capabilities of immersion and EUV systems increase also the sensitivity of these systems with respect to small imperfections of the mask. Advanced mask technologies such as alternating phase shift masks (AltPSM), chromeless phase shift lithography (CPL), or "thick" absorbers on EUV masks introduce new defect types. The paper presents an application of rigorous electromagnetic field modeling for the study of typical defect printing mechanisms in ArF immersion lithography and in EUV lithography. For standard imaging and mask technologies, such as binary masks or attenuated phase shift masks, small defects usually print as linewidth or critical dimension (CD) errors with the largest effect at best focus. For AltPSM, CPL masks, and EUV masks this is not always the case. Several unusual printing scenarios were observed: placement errors due to defects can become more critical than CD-errors, defects may print more critical at defocus positions different from the center of the process window, the defect printing may become asymmetric through focus, and the risk of defect printing depends on the polarization of the used light source. Several simulation examples will demonstrate these effects. Rigorous EMF simulations in combination with vector imaging simulations are very useful to understand the origins of the observed defect printing mechanisms.