PC LOAD LETTER error on an HP LaserJet 4

PC LOAD LETTER is a printer error message that has entered popular culture as a technology meme referring to a confusing or inappropriate error message. The error message's vagueness was mocked in the 1999 comedy film Office Space.

The message is encountered when printing on older HP LaserJet printers such as the LaserJet II, III, and 4 series. It means that the printer is trying to print a document that needs "Letter size" (8½ × 11 in.) paper when no such paper is available.[1]

Early LaserJet models used a two-character display for all status messages. This printer is showing "00", for normal status. Paper out in the upper cassette would be indicated by alternating "11" and "UC".

"PC" is an abbreviation for "paper cassette",[2] the tray which holds blank paper for the printer to use. These two-character codes are a legacy feature carried over from the first LaserJet printers, which could only use a two-character display for all printer status and error messages. "LOAD" is an instruction to refill the paper tray. "LETTER" is the standard paper size used in the United States and Canada. Thus, the error is instructing the user to refill the paper tray with letter-sized paper. Other messages that might be seen include "MP LOAD LEGAL", meaning the "MP" (multi-purpose) tray needs to be filled with legal size (8½ × 14 in.) paper.[3]

Users confuse "PC" with "personal computer", "LOAD" with some action someone might do to that computer, and "LETTER" with an alphabet letter or short document (in particular outside the United States and Canada, where most paper is A4 size, and users don't know "LETTER" is a paper size at all).

The error can be fixed (other than by filling the paper tray) by emptying the print queue and printer buffer or pressing "Shift+Continue"[4] and, in extreme cases, restarting the printer and repeating. The LaserJet 5 introduced a "GO" button to override the warning message.

The LaserJet 5, 4000, and later models added number labels on paper trays and displayed a new message, "TRAY [x] LOAD PLAIN [paper size]" where [x] is the tray number.

See also


  1. ^ "LaserJet Pro M402dn asks me to load Letter paper when I have A4". Archived Topics. Hewlett Packard. 2016-09-07. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  2. ^ "One of many official Hewlett-Packard technical documents defining PC as a short-form of Paper Cassette". Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
  3. ^ "HP LaserJet 4 - 5 Service Manual". Archive.org. Hewlett-Packard Company. 1996. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Instructions for solving printer errors". Archived from the original on March 12, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2007.