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paper sizes blog

Paper Sizes: A History Of

Paper did not always have standard sizes.  The first evidence of standard paper sizes being discussed was in a letter dated October 1786 written by physics Professor Georg Christoph Lichtenberg to his friend Johann Beckmann.  In his letter Lichtenberg outlined the benefits of a height to width ratio of the square root of 2.


Standard paper sizes

This was the beginning of using international standard (ISO) paper sizes, used in most countries today, with the United States and Canada being the main exceptions.  The main advantage of this simple system is its scaling, however many times you double the short edge (or half the long edge) it will always have the same width to height ration e.g. an A5 sheet is created by folding the next larger size, A4 in half.   Starting with AO size, all paper sizes are created by halving the paper on its longest side.  AO halves to A1, which halves to A2.  When producing an A4 brochure you would use A3 paper halved and possibly bound centrally.

Standard Paper Sizes


Ideas and examples of uses for paper sizes

A3   Fold A3 to A4 for catalogues, manuals, price lists, brochures (use this size if the text and images fit well)


A4   Letterheads


Leaflets (use this size if the text and images fit well)

A5   Leaflets


Personal letterheads

Fold A5 to A6 – useful for smaller amounts of text and images

A6   Postcards

Address cards

Small mailers

A7   Business cards


Modern use of sizes

The advantages of using standard paper sizes is something that we now take for granted.  Standard sized copiers and printers are in daily use and rely on paper being a consistent size.  Standard sized paper fits conveniently into matching folders and envelopes, making our use of the printed word portable, easy to duplicate and to share with others.

We specialise in print using all the above paper sizes, and more,  go to our products page or contact us direct for more information.

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