What Is the Size of a Sheet of Paper?

A sheet of paper is typically 8.5 inches by 11 inches, though other sizes are available. The standard size for printer paper is A4, which is 210mm x 297mm.

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Standard Sizes

The size of a sheet of paper is generally expressed in terms of its weight. The standard sizes of paper are given in the table below. The basis weight of a sheet of paper is the designated fixed weight of 500 sheets, measured in pounds, that yields a ream (500 sheets) of that paper grade.

North American Sizes

North American paper sizes, in general, are based on traditional English sizes. The basis size for these system was established way back in 1885 by the Insurance Institute for Property Loss Reduction. This group came up with the basis size to more accurately determine firefighters’ workload. It based this on the amount of paper that could be cut from a standard-sized (25” x 40”) ream of paper in 5 minutes. That workday standard was and still is 100 sheets of paper. Paper weights are categorized as bond, text, cover and index, with bond falling into the 20 lb to 60 lb range and being used most frequently for office use.

The current standard sizes in North America are:
-Letter: 8.5” x 11”
-Legal: 8.5” x 14”
-Tabloid or Ledger: 11” x 17”

North American paper sizes are not without their issues though. The main problem is that the aspect ratio of width to height measurements is different than the international ISO standard aspect ratio of 1 to √2 (approximately 1:1.41). This means that if you were to take a North American standard sheet of Letter size paper and cut it in half vertically, you would end up with two sheets of A5 size paper (as per the ISO standard). However, if you were to take an A4 sheet of paper (the international standard size), cut it in half vertically and then again horizontally, you would end up with four A5 sheets of paper— twice as many!

International Sizes

There are two main systems for paper sizes – the international system and the North American system. The international system is based on metric units and is used in most of the world. The North American system is based on imperial units and is used in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

The international paper size standard is ISO 216. It was introduced in 1975 and is based on the German DIN 476 standard from 1922. The standard defines the A series of paper sizes, which are based on a constant width to length ratio of 1:√2. This means that each size in the A series is twice as long as it is wide. The most common A series paper sizes are:

A4 –210 × 297 mm (8.3 × 11.7 in)
A5 –148 × 210 mm (5.8 × 8.3 in)
A6 –105 × 148 mm (4.1 × 5.8 in)

The North American paper size standard is ANSI/ASME Y14.1M-1985 (R2002). It was introduced in 1985 and replaces an earlier standard from 1955 known as ANSI/ASME Y14.– 1960, which itself replaced an even earlier standard from 1922! The current standard defines a range of “A” sizes, as well as some “B” sizes which are used for envelopes. The most common A series paper sizes are:

Letter – 8½ × 11 in (215 × 279 mm) Tabloid – 11× 17 in (279 × 432 mm) Ledger/Tabloid – 17× 11in (432 × 279 mm)

Non-Standard Sizes

The size of a sheet of paper is usually measured in inches or millimeters. The most common size of printer paper is A4, which is 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches. However, there are many other sizes of paper that are used for different purposes. Let’s take a look at some of the other sizes of paper.

Custom Sizes

There are many different sizes of paper, but most fall into one of three categories: standard, intermediate, or non-standard. Standard sizes are the most common and are used for everything from printer paper to envelopes. Intermediate sizes are slightly larger or smaller than standard and are often used for things like index cards or postcards. Non-standard sizes are anything that doesn’t fit into the other two categories and can be used for things like scrapbooking or origami.

The most common standard paper size is letter size, which is 8.5 x 11 inches. Other standard sizes include legal (8.5 x 14 inches), tabloid (11 x 17 inches), and ledger (17 x 11 inches). Intermediate sizes include A3 (11.7 x 16.5 inches), A4 (8.3 x 11.7 inches), and B4 (9.8 x 13.9 inches). Non-standard sizes can be anything from 4 x 6 inches to 36 x 48 inches or larger.

Odd Sizes

Paper size standards govern the size of sheets of paper used as writing paper, stationery, cards, and for some printed documents. The ISO system of paper sizes was introduced in 1975. It consists of a logical set of paper sizes that are based on the metric system. The ISO 216 standard, which includes the commonly used A4 size, is the international standard for paper size today. However, in many countries – including the United States – the traditional “Letter” or “US Letter” size (8.5″ x 11″) is still in common use.

There are a number of other non-standard sizes that are sometimes used for specific purposes, such as index cards (3″ x 5″), legal pads (8.5″ x 14″), and envelopes (shapes vary). In general, these sizes are not part of the ISO system and are not widely used outside of their specific applications.