by David Rogers
Letter. A4. ANSI A. Legal.
Is this some secret message or an alien transmission from a galaxy beyond? No, it’s just a random assortment of paper sizes. Since the different types of paper size can easily become nearly as confusing as paper weight, we wanted to gather all the sizes in one place.
In our book printing world we express paper dimensions in inches because we work with both non-standard and standard size books. 5.5 x 8, 7 x 10, 8.5 x 11 are all common book printing sizes, but since we can produce books of any size, it’s easier to stick with inches rather than only working with standard paper sizes. However, since many customers are already familiar with those standard sizes, we hope this chart will serve as a reference point for those deciding the best size for their book.
Since it’s occasionally not clear whether horizontal dimension or vertical dimension comes first when expressing paper size, note that all examples here (as well as all the dimensions you can choose on our quote page) are listed as horizontal width x vertical height. In a related note, you’ve probably also heard of portrait and landscape page orientation. Portrait means the layout has a greater height than width; landscape is wider than it is tall.
So here’s a group of charts of common paper sizes, and below that you’ll find a brief history of how some of these sizes came to be today’s standards (which some of us paper nerds find interesting).
|NORTH AMERICAN PAPER SIZES|
|Junior Legal||8 x 5||203 x 127|
|Government Letter||8 x 10.5||203 x 267|
|Letter||8.5 x 11||216 x 279|
|Legal||8.5 x 14||216 x 356|
|Tabloid||11 x 17||279 x 432|
|Ledger||17 x 11||432 x 279|
|INTERNATIONAL PAPER SIZES|
|A0||33.110 x 46.811||841 x 1189|
|A1||23.386 x 33.110||594 x 841|
|A2||16.535 x 23.386||420 x 594|
|A3||11.693 x 16.535||297 x 420|
|A4||8.268 x 11.693||210 x 297|
|A5||5.827 x 8.268||148 x 210|
|A6||4.134 x 5.827||105 x 148|
|A7||2.913 x 4.134||74 x 105|
|A8||2.047 x 2.913||52 x 74|
|MISCELLANEOUS COMMON PAPER SIZES|
|ANSI A (Letter)||8.5 x 11||216 x 279|
|ANSI B (Tabloid)||11 x 17||279 x 432|
|U.S. Business Card||3.5 x 2||89 x 51|
|#9 Envelope||8.88 x 3.88||226 x 99|
|#10 Envelope||9.5 x 4.13||241 x 105|
|COMMON U.S. PRESS SHEET SIZES|
|11 x 17||279 x 432|
|12 x 18||305 x 457|
|17 x 22||432 x 559|
|19 x 25||483 x 635|
|20 x 26||508 x 660|
|23 x 29||584 x 737|
|23 x 35||584 x 889|
|24 x 36||610 x 914|
|25 x 38||635 x 965|
|26 x 40||660 x 1016|
|28 x 40||711 x 1016|
Paper Sizes: A Brief History
Just like the general system of measurement, we do things a bit different in America than most of the rest of the world. Namely, our paper sizes are not based on the metric system.
Common paper sizes in America, which you’re probably familiar with, are Letter paper size (8.5 x 11 in), Legal paper size (8.5 x 14 in) and Tabloid paper size (11 x 17 in). Less common sizes that you’ll find dimensions for in the chart are Junior Legal, Ledger and Government Letter. The latter is now used primarily on some notebooks since the U.S. Government has switched to Letter size for forms.
The ANSI you’ll find in the chart stands for American National Standards Institute and is a method of standardizing American paper size based on the Letter size. Therefore, ANSI A is 8.5 x 11 in and ANSI B is 11×17 in, or Letter Tabloid size. This makes more sense considering these sizes are arranged on a larger sheet in the image below.
ANSI Paper Size Chart
Image Source: Wikipedia
In many (but not all) countries around the world, the international paper size standard is known as ISO 216, which you likely more commonly know as A, B or C series (A4, B3, C5, etc.). These sizes are based on the measurement of the metric system. To go a bit further in the idea behind the measurements, A series sizes are based on a single aspect ratio of the square root of 2. While going further into the measurements is more in-depth than is needed for understanding the paper size, this can better be visualized with the ISO size chart below.
ISO A Series Paper Size Chart
Image Source: Wikipedia
As you can see, the A4 paper size is essentially between the U.S. Letter and Legal size at 8.3 x 8. 11.7 in. One perk of all the sizes based on the A0 paper size is that all sheets can be scaled in relation to one another. For instance, an A4 size can be folded into an A5 paper size brochure. Similarly, an A3 paper size can be folded down exactly into an A4.
There’s also a C series in ISO standards that are used only for envelopes. Each size in the C series is slightly larger than the corresponding size in the A series. Therefore, a C4 envelope is slightly larger than an A4 sheet of paper so that the latter can fit inside the former. Note that though some common U.S. envelope sizes are labled A-2, A-6, etc., these are not related to the ISO A series. In this case, the “A” stands for “Announcement,” which is a type or style of envelope.
The B series is larger than the A, and though it is less common in office settings, it is commonly seen in printing presses in many countries around the world other than America.
Of course, there are other sizes used around the world. Some are continuations of older measurements and some are just country specific. Additionally, there are a variety of specific sizes you’ll find in the chart for specific uses, including business cards, envelopes and other products.