What is Legal Size Paper?

Find out what legal size paper is and why it is the standard size for many documents. You’ll also learn about the history of legal size paper and how it became the standard.

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Standard North American paper sizes

Standard North American paper sizes are based on traditional English paper sizes. The most common size is 8.5″ x 11″. Other sizes include 8.5″ x 14″ (legal size) and 11″ x 17″ (tabloid size). North American paper sizes are measured in inches, while European paper sizes are measured in metric units.

North American legal paper sizes

Legal size paper (8.5″ x 14″) is the standard paper size used for documents in North America. It is also known as Ledger paper. This size paper is a convenient size for filing and storing documents.


In North America, legal paper is typically 8.5 inches wide and 14 inches long. The dimensions of legal paper in the United States are governed by the ANSI/ASA standard S8.26-2009, which states that “The basic size for cut sheets of paper is 17 by 22 inches (432 by 559 mm) […].” This size is known as “ANSI A” or “Letter” size.


In the United States and Canada, legal paper sizes are based on the imperial system. The most common size is 8.5 inches by 14 inches (216 mm x 356 mm), which is also known as “legal” size. Other sizes include 8 inches by 13 inches (203 mm x 330 mm) and 8.5 inches by 13 inches (216 mm x 330 mm).

In the rest of North America, legal paper sizes are based on the international standard ISO paper size system. The most common size is A4, which is 8.27 inches by 11.69 inches (210 mm x 297 mm). Other sizes include A5 (5.83 inches by 8.27 inches or 148 mm x 210 mm) and A6 (4.13 inches by 5.83 inches or 105 mm x 148 mm).


Ledger or tabloid is a size of paper that is typically 17″ × 11″ or 11″ × 17″. It is commonly used for accounting and financial records as well as design layouts. This size is also used for home printing of wide format photographs.

International paper sizes

A Series

The A series of paper sizes was introduced in the early 1900s by the German Standards Committee and became an international standard in 1975.

The A series paper sizes are defined in ISO 216 and are based on a single aspect ratio of 1:√2, making each consecutive size larger than the one before by a factor of √2 (1.4142). The most frequently used paper size is A4 which is 210mm x297mm (8.27in x 11.69in).

Other popular paper sizes in the A series include A3 (297mm x 420mm), A5 (148mm x 210mm) and A6 (105mm x 148mm).

The dimensions of the A series paper sizes are defined by the ISO 216 international paper size standard.

B Series

The B series of paper sizes were introduced in 1932 as a more practical alternative to the A series. The basis was the dimensionless unit Roth that was already in use in Germany at the time.

Roth defined 1 roth as 1 / 40 of a meter. The B series defines the length of the short side of a sheet of paper in increments of 1 roth. The aspect ratio of the B series paper sizes is constant at √2, or approximately 1:1.41, rounded to the nearest millimetre.

The area of B series sheets is the geometric mean of successive A series sheets. This means that B1 is exactly half of A0 in area, and that B2 is half of A1, and so on. Expressed in mathematical terms, if A(n) denotes Oversize A n then:

B(n) = √2/2 · A(n-1)

C Series

C Series paper sizes were created to provide an efficient means of ensuring that printed matter would fit and function correctly in a wide variety of equipment. The ISO developed the C series paper sizes to complement the existing A series.

The C series consists of 17 different sizes, ranging from C0 (the largest) to C16 (the smallest). The most commonly used paper size from this series is C4, which is similar in size to US Letter paper.

The dimensions of Cseries paper are defined by the ISO 216 standard. This standard was first published in 1975 and was last updated in 2013.


In North America, legal size paper is 8.5 inches wide and 14 inches long. This size paper is primarily used for legal documents such as contracts, mortgages, and court papers. In most other countries, legal paper is A4 size which is 8.27 inches wide and 11.69 inches long.