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ISO paper sizes

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Design Techniques & Terminology

The fifth of Poole-based branding agency CuCo Creative’s technical/terminology articles.

Over time there have been many standard sizes of paper used across the world, but today these have been distilled down to just two, ISO 216 (A4, A3 etc) and the North American sizes officially only still used in the USA and Canada.

ISO 216 evolved from the German DIN 476 standard for paper sizes. and these are based in a single aspect ratio of square root of two. The base format is a sheet of paper measuring 1m² in area (A0 paper size). Successive paper sizes in the series – A1, A2, A3, and so forth – are defined by halving the preceding paper size along the larger dimension; therefore if you cut an A0 sheet in half you get two sheets of A1, and so on. This aspect ratio is especially convenient for a paper size, as each size has the same width/height ratio, which allows the easy scaling of work.

ISO sizes A series

There are various series of sizes: A, B & C. The A series is used as the standard paper sizes for finished work in print, ie the size the final product is cut down to. The most frequently used of this series is A4, which is 210mm × 297mm.

Application examples:
A0, A1: technical drawings, posters
A2, A3: drawings, diagrams, large tables
A4: letters, magazines, forms, catalogues, laser printer and photocopying machines
A5: note pads
A6: postcards

ISO code Size in millimetres Size in inches Size in points
4A0 1582 x 2378 66.22 x 93.62 4768 x 6741
2A0 1189 x 1682 46.81 x 66.22 3370 x 4768
A0 841 x 1189 33 x 46.81 2384 x 3370
A1 594 x 841 23.39 x 33 1684 x 2384
A2 420 x 594 16.54 x 23.36 1191 x 1684
A3 297 x 420 11.69 x 16.54 842 x 1191
A4 210 x 297 8.27 x 11.69 595 x 842
A5 148 x 210 5.83 x 8.27 420 x 595
A6 105 x 148 4.13 x 5.83 298 x 420
A7 74 x 105 2.91 x 4.13 210 x 298
A8 52 x 74 2.05 x 2.91 147 x 210
A9 37 x 52 1.46 x 2.05 105 x 147
A10 26 x 37 1.02 x 1.46 74 x 105

ISO sizes B series

The B series formats are geometric means between the A series format with the same number and the A series format with one lower number. For example, B1 is a geometric mean between A1 and A0. The B series is less common in office use, but it is used for a variety of special situations. Many posters use B-series paper, B5 is a relatively common choice for books and the B series is also used for envelopes and passports. Most print starts life on a B sized sheet; this allows for bleed, crop/registration marks, colour bars and other notes printed in the margins before it is trimmed to size.

Application examples:
B5,A5, B6,A6: books
B4/A3: newspapers, supported by most copying machines in addition to A4

ISO code Size in millimetres Size in inches Size in points
B0 1000 x 1414 33.37 x 55.67 2836 x 4008
B1 707 x 1000 27.84 x 39.37 2004 x 2835
B2 500 x 707 19.69 x 27.84 1417 x 2004
B3 353 x 500 13.9 x 19.69 1001 x 1417
B4 250 x 352 9.84 x 13.9 709 x 1001
B5 176 x 250 6.93 x 9.84 499 x 709
B6 125 x 176 4.92 x 6.93 354 x 499
B7 88 x 125 3.47 x 4.92 249 x 354
B8 62 x 88 2.44 x 3.47 176 x 249
B9 44 x 62 1.73 x 2.44 125 x 176
B10 31 x 44 1.22 x 1.73 88 x 125

ISO sizes C series

The C series format was designed for use as envelope sizes, which are designed for use with ISO 216 standard paper sizes (the A series). Metric measurements are the finished envelope size. Inch measurements are approximate. Thus an unfolded A4 sheet or a A3 sheet folded in half will fit into a C4 envelope.

Name Size in millimetres Size in inches
C0 917 x 1297 36.12 x 51.6
C1 648 x 917 25.50 x 36.12
C2 458 x 648 18 x 25.50
C3 324 x 458 12.75 x 18
C4 229 x 324 9 x 12.75
C5 162 x 229 6.38 x 9
C6 114 x 162 4.5 x 6.38
C7/6 81 x 162 3.19 x 6.38
C7 81 x 114 3.19 x 4.5
DL 110 x 220 4.32 x 8.69

The C6/7 will fit an A5 sheet folded in thirds, the A7 will fit an A5 folded in quarters – though neither of these sizes are used often. Although DL is not part of the ISO C series, it is a very widely deployed standard size and is used to fit an A4 sheet folded in thirds or an A5 in half.

Untrimmed sheets

The ISO 217:1995 standard defines the RA (raw format A) and SRA (supplementary raw format A) formats for untrimmed raw paper. These formats are only slightly larger than the corresponding A formats. Sheets in these formats are cut to the final size format after printing and binding.

ISO press-sheet RA sizes

Press-sheet name Size in millimetres Size in inches
RA0 860 x 1220 33 7/8 x 48
RA1 610 x 860 24 x 33 7/8
RA2 430 x 610 6 15/16 x 24
RA3 305 x 430 12 x 16 15/16
RA4 215 x 305 8 7/16 x 12

ISO press-sheet SRA sizes

Press-sheet name Size in millimetres Size in inches
SRA0 900 x 1280 35 7/16 x 50 3/8
SRA1 640 x 900 25 3/16 x 35 7/16
SRA2 450 x 640 17 11/16 x 25 3/16
SRA2 320 x 450 12 5/8 x 17 11/16
SRA4 225 x 320 8 7/8 x 12 5/8

If you are seeking print management services, contact Poole-based branding and web design agency CuCo on 01202 911959 or email us at email hidden; JavaScript is required

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