How to Choose Right Paper Size for Printing?

How to Choose Right Paper Size for Printing

There is a huge variety of papers available in the market that are used for different purposes. Papers come in different sizes and qualities and one must be aware of which paper to use for which purpose. A paper may not seem technical but papers have been engineered with great considerations to meet different requirements.

Before performing a printing job you must know which paper will produce the best result in terms of overall look, cost and feel. A paper used for photograph printing is different from a wedding card which is again different from the normal paper we use for our everyday needs. These papers are different in sizes, quality and finish.

Shade, size, weight and brightness (or you can say it as whiteness) are the four main factors that differentiate between papers. These characteristics define a paper and make it suitable for specific jobs. Moreover, choosing the right paper for your job will directly affect the printer as well. Using the right type of paper will help to keep the printer in good condition and will avoid unnecessary maintenance.

Different Paper Sizes:

The size of the paper you use depends on what you are using it for. You definitely cannot use the same size of paper for printing an envelope, a chart or an office document. Papers are available in a large variety of sizes ranging from small postcards to large poster size formats. The selection of the size mainly depends on the purpose of its use and what needs to be printed on it.

Choosing the size that will fit the dimensions of the text or the image without leaving much white space is what every printer user must be looking for. The printed document should have a reasonable amount of white space left and the printed text or image should not be too much squeezed to fit in the paper.

Most printer users are aware of the A sizes of the paper and that to A4 mainly. It is the standard size followed almost everywhere and this is also the size that is used in our everyday lives for almost every purpose.

There are two main paper size standards that are followed all over the world; they are: international system (ISO 216) and the North American system (now known as the ANSI). The latter is followed only in Canada and USA while the international system is followed all over the world.

ISO 216:

The international standard is a very simple and easy to understand paper size format. The main characteristic of this standard is that all the different sizes in this format have the same aspect ratio which is the square root of two (1:4142). This characteristic of the same aspect ratio makes it very easy to reduce or increase the size of a document.

There are three series in the ISO standard: A, B and C. The A series is the most commonly used series and the A4 size is the most frequently used size. The A series of paper sizes is distinguished by the letter A followed by a number that range from 0 to 10. The unique thing about this series is that greater the number, smaller will be the size of the paper.  The smallest size in this series is A10 having the dimensions 1.0 x 1.5 in and the largest size of A0 with dimensions 33-1/8 x 46-13/16.

Having the same aspect ratio in the different sizes makes it easier to find the next size. As a rule of thumb, one size can be divided into two by folding the shorter sides together to get two papers of the next size. The width of the larger paper will become the length of the new size. In this way you can size up or down with ease.

Uses of different paper sizes in the A series:

As mentioned above each and every job requires a specific size of paper. Let’s see the use for each paper size:

·         A0:

This is the largest size and is therefore mostly used by designers and in copy shops. This large size paper is best used for technical drawings which requires lots of space to draw visible and comprehendible drawings. This size is also great for posters and advertising materials.

·         A1:

The size is half of the A0 size and has dimensions 594 x 841 mm. It is also a large enough size making it suitable for technical drawings, maps and posters.

·         A2:

By folding the A1 paper into two you can get two A2 size papers having dimension 420 x 594 mm. This size of paper can be used for varying purposes. You can use it for posters or charts or for printing photographs and even for drawing.

·         A3:

You can get an A3 by folding an A2 length wise; the dimensions of this format are 297 x 420 mm. After A4 size, A3 is the most commonly used size paper. Most commonly used printers at offices can print on A3 paper as well. It is perfect for artwork, photos, musical scores, drawings, posters, charts, magazines, certificates and what not.

This size can be used in unique ways as well by folding it into fours or sixes. In this form it can be used for informational or promotional leaflets or maps.

·         A4:

The most commonly used size paper having dimensions 210 x 297 mm is the A4 format. It is considered as a standard for almost all official documents. It is the perfect size for letters, forms, children books, school notepads, leaflets, magazines, encyclopaedias, etc. the application of A4 size is endless. You can use it for a variety of purposes and is also easily available.

·         A5:

This size is also a common size as it is the best size for notepads. Most notepads that you keep in handy in your bags or on the size of your desk are this size. The dimension of this format is 148 x 210 mm. It is also great for leaflets, flyers, books and magazines. It is a widely used size because it is less bulky than the A4 size but still has enough space for writing or printing.

·         A6:

A6 format having dimensions 105 x 148 mm is best for post cards or greeting cards. You can also find books and pocket diaries in this size.

·         A7: 

It has dimensions 74 x 105 mm and being small in size it is suitable for printing mini calendars, greeting cards, and flyers.

·         A8:

It is a much smaller size and has dimensions 52 x 74 mm. this size is also seen commonly as it is the perfect size for your business and credit cards.

·         A9:

Tickets and coupons are usually made on this 37 x 52 mm sized paper.

·         A10:

This is the smallest size and has dimensions of only 37 x 26 mm. it has very small printable area and is therefore used for printing stamps.

The B and C Series:

The B series was introduced to bring in some varying paper sizes and their size is based on the geometric mean of two consecutive sizes of the A series. This makes the sizes of the B series somewhat in between the A series sizes.

The C series was introduced only for designing envelopes for the A series paper in particular.

ANSI standard:

This standard is only followed in Canada and USA and is the same as their old traditional sizes which were named as Letter (having dimensions 8.5 x 11 inches), Legal (with dimensions 8.5 x 14 inches) and Tabloid (11 x 17 inches). In these different sizes the Letter is the standard size for all official documents.


Paper sizes can vary for different needs and requirements. It is important that one should have knowledge regarding the paper sizes so that the print result is of the best quality and also does not cost much.

Apart from the standard sizes, other sizes can also be made by cutting a standard size into equal portions for serving different purposes.

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