Different Paper Sizes

Did you know there are over hundreds of different paper sizes and even different size standards across the world? While paper might look like a simple office supply or home stationery item that helps transcribe our thoughts or information, there’s a long history behind how paper sizes are determined and continue to change.

Types of Paper Size Standards

The size of paper depends on what standards you want to follow. There are many different standards of sizes based on where you are in the world. However, the two most popular standard paper sizes used are the ISO 216 or the North American standards.

ISO 216

The standard size of paper that is commonly used across the world is ISO 216. This international paper size consists of three series: A, B, and C. Each series has more than 10 different sizes, with series A being the most used format.

North American Paper Sizes

While most countries have adopted the ISO 216 paper sizes, North America along with a few other countries have adopted their own standards of paper sizes. These standards can be categorized into three groups: Loose Leaf, American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and Architectural Sizes.

Loose Leaf Paper Sizes

North American Paper Sizes

Of all the three different categories, loose leaf paper sizes are what most people are familiar with and use. Within this category, there are typically three that are commonly used:

  • Letter (8.5 x 11 inches): Letter is the standard paper used within professional and academic settings, and the most used size. You most likely have used a letter-sized paper while in school or printed a document at work. Most folders and filing supplies are formatted to store this popular size.
  • Legal (8.5 x 14 inches): Often confused with letter sized paper, legal sized paper is 3 inches longer. As the name suggests, legal paper is commonly used when signatures and other forms of verification, such as notary stamps, are required. Therefore, legal size is the recommended paper for law offices and business contracts where legality is a concern. 
  • Tabloid (11 x 17 inches): Also known as Ledger if rotated by 90 degrees (17 x 11 inches), this larger paper size can be used in a variety of ways. As its name’s suggests, tabloid paper is commonly used in commercial publications such as flyers, newsletters, and magazines. If used as a ledger, typically important financial transactions such as wills and deeds will use this size. Due to its extra printing space, tabloid paper is sometimes used in engineering, architectural, construction designs and blueprints.

Loose Leaf Paper Size Chart

TypeInches (Width by Height)Millimeter (Width by Height)
Junior Legal5 x 8 in127 x 203 mm
Half Letter5.5 x 8.5 in140 x 216 mm
Executive7.5 x 10 in190.5 x 254 mm
Government Letter8 x 10.5 in203 x 267 mm
Letter8.5 x 11 in216 x 279 mm
Government Legal8.5 x 13 in216 x 330 mm
Legal8.5 x 14 in216 x 356 mm
Tabloid (Ledger)11 x 17 in (17 x 11 in)279 x 432 mm

ANSI Paper Sizes

In 1996, the ANSI established their own regular series of paper sizes based on the popular letter size of 8.5 by 11 inches. Like how ISO 216 cuts a sheet in half that would produce two sheets of the next smaller size, ANSI’s largest paper size, ANSI E, could be cut in half multiple times to result in ANSI A. Along with ANSI A being the same size as a letter paper, you’ll also notice that ANSI B paper size is also the same as Tabloid or Ledger paper sizes.

TypeInches (Width by Height)Millimeter (Width by Height)
ANSI A8.5 x 11 in216 x 279 mm
ANSI B11 x 17 in279 x 432 mm
ANSI C17 x 22 in432 x 559 mm
ANSI D22 x 34 in559 x 864 mm
ANSI E34 x 44 in864 x 1,118 mm

Architectural Paper Sizes

For architects, the preferred standard of paper sizes is ARCH. Unlike other standards of measurement, the proportions of ARCH are 4:3 and 3:2, which is ideal when working with large drawings. The 4:3 ratio also allows architects to match the ratio for computer displays which can be critical in showcasing designs.  

TypeInches (Width by Height)Millimeter (Width by Height)
Arch A9 x 12 in229 x 305 mm
Arch B12 x 18 in305 x 457 mm
Arch C18 x 24 in457 x 610 mm
Arch D24 x 36 in610 x 914 mm
Arch E36 x 48 in914 x 1219 mm
Arch E130 x 42 in762 x 1067 mm
Arch E226 x 38 in660 x 965 mm
Arch E327 x 39 in686 x 991 mm

ISO 216 Paper Sizes

ISO 216 Paper Sizes

The ISO 210 paper sizes were first developed in Europe during the 19th century and are used mostly around the world except for North America and parts of Latin America. While there are three different series; A, B, and C, the most used series is A.

The sizes established by ISO 216 use the aspect ratio of 1 to √2, therefore, to get other sizes you can simply cut or fold the paper in half. For example, ISO 216 A5 would be half of the popular A4. As you go up in format type, the sizes will continue to decrease by half.

TypeInches (Width by Height)Millimeter (Width by Height)
A101 in x 1.5 in26 x 37 mm
A91.5 x 2.0 in37 x 52 mm
A82.0 x 2.9 in52 x 74 mm
A72.9 x 4.1 in74 x 105 mm
A64.1 x 5.8 in105 x 148 mm
A55.8 x 8.3 in148 x 210 mm
A48.3 x 11.7 in210 x 297 mm
A311.7 x 16.5 in297 x 420 mm
A216.5 x 23.4 in420 x 594 mm
A123.4 x 33.1 in594 x 841 mm
A033.1 x 46.8 in841 x 1189 mm
2A046.8 x 66.2 in1189 x 1682 mm
4A066.2 x 93.6 in1682 x 2378 mm

Is A4 the same as 8.5 x 11-inch paper?

No, A4 is not the same size as an 8.5 x 11-inch paper, although they are close in measurement. Since A4 is part of the ISO 216 standards, A4 measures at 8.3 x 11.7 inches, therefore is just slightly larger. However, they are both the most used paper size from their respective categories.

How to pick the right paper size?

Since there are so many sizes of paper to pick from, how do you know which one to use? Not only is size important, but weight is also another factor to consider. To help you determine what paper size you should use, consider how its size will affect mailing, printing, filing, and more. For example:

  • What is going on the paper, such as the type of printer ink? Will it bleed through?
  • Do you need to consider the thickness of the paper for your use-case, such as printing invitations?
  • How much space will you need on the paper?
  • Do you plan to store this paper long term and file it away? Will it fit within your folders or cabinets?
  • Do you plan to mail this paper? Will it fit into an envelope?

What size is printing paper?

If you’re trying to figure out what is the right size of printing paper, within North America the most common is letter-sized paper that is 8 by 11.5 inches. Depending on what type of printer you have, some printers can print on large-sized paper such as tabloid or ledger. However, if you’re following ISO 216 measurements, the most common would be their A4 paper.

What size paper should I use for a brochure?

For brochures, the most common size would be either the letter-sized paper or using the A4 from ISO 216 prior to folding. These two sizes are great options for either a half-fold or a tri-fold brochure, but there are many ways to fold a brochure with these sizes.

What size is notebook paper?

Most notebook paper in the U.S. follow the standard letter size of 8.5 by 11 inches. If you have a perforated paper notebook, the width of the paper may be less after the page is torn from the notebook.

Other Paper Sizes

In addition to paper sizes that are used for us to write and print on, there are also other standard sizes for photos and even envelopes. While there are so many different standards, these standards help with consistency and pairing with other products like folders or frames. It also helps with reducing waste by allowing us to consume materials efficiently without squandering excess product and avoid having to deplete additional raw materials.

Sources

1. Paper Sizes. “International Paper Sizes & Formats With Dimensions”, 2022, www.papersizes.org. Accessed 24 May 2022.

2. PaperSizes. “A comprehensive resource listing all international standards for paper sizes, dimensions and formats.”, 2022, papersizes.io. Accessed 24 May 2022.

3.  “Paper size”. Wikipedia, 9 May 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_size. Accessed 24 May 2022.

4. “International standard”. Wikipedia, 27 March 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_standard. Accessed 24 May 2022.

5. Swift Publisher. “Paper Sizes and Formats Explained”, 2022, www.swiftpublisher.com/useful-articles/paper-sizes-and-formats-explained. Accessed 24 May 2022.