Paper Sizes: A-series explained…

28 November, 2017


Paper sizes can be a tricky subject if you don’t know how they work. When dealing with printed products it is inevitable that at some point you will be asked the question “and what size do you want it?” which tends to lead you into a whole different world of jargon and technical speak that you may never have encountered before and may never do so again!


However, this blog aims to address some of the most common paper sizes and by the end you’ll know your A1 from your A6.


The A-series

Most people will have heard of, or at least used, the standard A-series sizes of paper. The chances are that you will have A4 paper in your printer at the moment. Or you may have an A5 notepad on your desk or an A6 postcard in your drawer.


The A-series of papers are based on the metric system and is recognized as an international standard (ISO216) having being set in 1975. The system is a very simple one and is based on simply halving the previous sheet to get the next size down. This makes life for designers, publishers and printers much easier as they can simply calculate weights and sizes of papers even when dealing with large volumes.


We start with an A0 sheet (841mm x 1189mm) because this is exactly 1m2 of paper. The dimensions are as they are because when the sheet is halved the shape remains the same, a rectangular. It is also the most cost-effective way to make new sizes by using a large sheet.


When an A0 sheet is halved we end up with two A1 sheets. If one of these A1 sheets (594mm x 841mm) is then halved we get two A2 sheets (420mm x 594mm) and so on. The diagram below shows the full range of sizes achieved in this way.


A-Series Paper Sizes



The most common size we encounter day to day is almost certainly A4 (297mm x 210mm). Often referred to today as “copier paper” because it is used in printers and copiers the world over, it also the standard size for letters, magazines, brochures, and catalogues.


The A4 format is popular partly because of the additional options it gives us. Fold it in half and you get a handy sized A5 four-page document. Fold it twice along the 210mm edge and you can have a six-paneled leaflet either in a concertina manner or as a fold out option. You will commonly see each of these formats used for price lists, information leaflets or most commonly, take-away menus!


Other Paper Sizes

Of course, we are not limited to these standard sizes. The equipment we use here at H&H Reeds Printers allows us to print, fold and cut a huge amount of varying sizes to meet your exact requirements.