PC LOAD LETTER

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 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 whose paper size is set to "letter" when no letter size paper is available, either through supply exhaustion or supply size mismatch.[1]

"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 (8 1⁄2 × 11 in.) used in the United States and Canada. Thus, the error is instructing the user to refill the paper tray with letter-sized paper. Variants are "PC LOAD LEGAL", meaning that the printer needs more legal size (8 1⁄2 × 14 in.) paper, and "MP LOAD LETTER" meaning the printer needs letter-sized paper in the "MP" (multi-purpose) tray.

Outside America most paper is A4 size, not LETTER. Older LaserJet printers do not automatically resize a page when the page size of a document does not match the paper that is loaded in the printer, and many (American-written) programs use "letter" as the default format, the confusing message is often encountered by non-American users who may not know that LETTER is a paper size at all, and may not have any such paper.

The error can be fixed (other than by filling the paper tray) by emptying the print queue and printer buffer or press "Shift+Continue"[3] and in extreme cases, restart printer and repeat. The LaserJet 5 introduced an easy-to-find "GO" button to override the warning message.

Later LaserJet printers, with a number label on their paper trays, display a new message, "TRAY [x] LOAD PLAIN [paper size]" where [x] is the tray number. The word "PLAIN" seems to have been added in an attempt to make it less confusing.

The error message's vagueness was mocked in the 1999 comedy film Office Space.

See also

References

  1. "LaserJet Pro M402dn asks me to load Letter paper when I have A4". Archived Topics. Hewlett Packard. 2016-09-07. Archived from the original on 2016-09-08. 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. "Instructions for solving printer errors". Archived from the original on March 12, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
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