Understanding HP Cartridge Codes (HP Model Names and Compatibility)



Due to the sheer number of cartridge and printer models, it can be hard to find the right replacement ink. 

Sometimes printer and cartridge numbers look like they match, but you only end up with a cartridge that’s not compatible.

The long alphanumerical codes they’re labeled with usually seem (and partly are) arbitrary - HP printers and cartridges included.

The cartridge naming system is clear in its entirety to HP only. But there are bits of info we can decode.

So, let’s tackle this HP cartridge (and printer) naming system to help you get fresh ink in no time.

HP Cartridge Code Explanation

HP labels their cartridges with a short, easy-to-remember name (like HP 96A) and another, longer product code (C4096A for the same model). 

The coding system is useful in the HP supply chain - but it doesn't really tell much to an average user.

So, we'll focus on the commercial name of your HP cartridges.

We can easily determine the yield of both ink and toner cartridges from their names. However, it’s hard to bring any conclusions about the meaning of the numbers in HP cartridge codes. 

These are useful to determine cartridge series or generations, but no public categorical information was revealed by HP.

So, here is what we know for sure about HP cartridge code names:

HP Ink Cartridge Codes

There are many versions and variations of ink cartridge codes HP uses, but they mostly consist of two or three digits. This is the basic model number.

Most cartridge models come in a few versions: from normal to high yield. HP marks this at the end of the code with the XL mark for high-yield ink cartridges.

This system can get confusing - it’s best if we use an example:

HP OfficeJet Pro 6970 (as well as most of the 69XX series) uses three different variations of black ink cartridges:

HP Toner Cartridge Codes

Laser toner cartridges also come in different yields, especially the color black. However, it’s not as easy as finding an XL mark. For toner, HP uses a different labeling system with 3 cartridge sizes:

  • Mark A for standard yield HP toners
  • Mark X for high-yield HP toners
  • Mark Y for extra-high-yield HP toners

They all fit the same printers, and may even physically be the same, but contain different amounts of toner.

Let’s paint the picture with another example:

If we take HP LaserJet Enterprise M507dn as our printer, we know that it’s a monochrome printer from the M in its name. So, the options for black toner would be:

  • HP 89A with a yield of 5,000 pages
  • HP 89X with an extra yield of 10,000 pages
  • HP 89Y with an incredible yield of 20,000 pages

HP 305X 305A Set

HP 305X 305A SetCE410XCE 411ACE412ACE413A

Your toner set doesn’t have to be all identical - it may even contain standard-yield color cartridges and a high-yield black one.

How To Understand HP Printer Model Names

Knowing how to decode your HP printer model name can help with the selection of ink/toner cartridges.

They mostly use letter combinations to convey the printer features, while the numbers don’t tell us much.

Here’s a quick guide to understanding HP printer model names:

  • C/M/B - determines the color of the printer (Color and Monochrome, or Black). Check this out to know if you need the black cartridge only, or 4 cartridges - three colors and black.
  • MFP/MFC - multifunction printer or multifunction copier
  • F - the printer has a fax feature
  • BT/W/N - marks the printer’s connectivity (Bluetooth, Wireless, and Network for printers with a LAN port)
  • H - the printer has access to a hard drive
  • I - lets you know that the printer has imaging capabilities
  • D - the printer supports duplex printing
  • E - supports HP+ printing solutions
  • T - the printer comes with at least one extra paper tray
  • X - this tells us that the printer has at least duplex printing, an extra tray, and networking on board. There can be other letters after the X mark, meaning there are additional features.

Get Compatible Cartridges Hassle-Free

As you can see, the only reliable thing HP tells us about their ink/toner cartridges is their yield (and the levels of it). Besides that, their cartridge numbering doesn’t exactly make sense.

To sum it up: On HP ink cartridges look for XL markings (and potentially a similar number like the 902 and 906XL). When it comes to toners, look for A, X, and Y marks in the name.

All of this can be a hassle if you just want some fresh toner. You can always simply find the right cartridge for your HP printer on our HP toner page and get back to printing asap!

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Dunja Djuragic

Dunja Djuragic

Around 6th grade, Dunja's mother finally let her try to clear out the paper jam on their old Lexmark E120 laser printer. The magnificent world of rollers, drums, powder pigments, laser optics, and ink sprayers unfolded. Some years later, Dunja graduated from the Graphic Engineering and Design department at a local university. Along with being a fastidious home printer user (now using ink!), Dunja earned hands-on experience with offset printing and plotter printers working for a local book and magazine printing shop.

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