Tech Talk is my semi-regular blog post to teach you some of the technicalities or specifications that will make your book perfect in print and divine in digital form

Following on from my recent blog about units of measurement worldwide, I thought I would discuss the next level of that topic – paper standards around the globe.

Just like there are different units of measurement, paper standards (or sizes) vary globally as well.

There are two main paper systems that I will talk about now – the A Series and Imperial paper sizes.

The two different series offer different sizes for the similarly coded papers. For example, A4 is 210mm x 297mm in size. Whereas US Letter is 8.5 inches x 11 inches. This last example equates to 215.9mm x 279.4mm.

Do you see the subtle difference? A4 is narrower and taller while US Letter is wider and shorter when compared to each other. The difference may not seem a lot – a few millimetres – but it is extremely important when specifying a job.

There is also another series called B Series which is used commonly for books, passports, posters, envelopes, and so on.

Here are some common dimensions for A Series and Imperial paper sizes:

A Series

  • A0 – 841 x 1189 mm – 33.1 x 46.8 in
  • A1 – 594 x 841 mm – 23.4 x 33.1 in
  • A2 – 420 x 594 mm – 16.5 x 23.4 in
  • A3 – 297 x 420 mm – 11.7 x 16.5 in
  • A4 – 210 x 297 mm – 8.3 x 11.7 in
  • A5 – 148 x 210 mm – 5.8 x 8.3 in
  • A6 – 105 x 148 mm – 4.1 x 5.8 in

US Paper Sizes

  • Half Letter – 140 x 216 mm – 5.5 x 8.5 in
  • Letter – 216 x 279 mm – 8.5 x 11.0 in
  • Legal – 216 x 356 mm – 8.5 x 14.0 in
  • Junior Legal – 127 x 203 mm – 5.0 x 8.0 in
  • Ledger/Tabloid – 279 x 432 mm – 11.0 x 17.0 in

There are also even more sizes for oversized sheets which printing firms commonly use when printing projects which extend over the edges of the finished trim size – also known as “bleeding.”

The book is printed on a larger sheet and then cut down to size. The printed image then goes right up to the cut edges.

In both the A & B Series formats, this oversized sheet has the prefix SR e.g. SRA4, SRB4 and so on. 
SR papers are 115% of the size of the corresponding trimmed sheet i.e. SRA4 is 115% of the area of A4-sized paper. FYI, SRA4 measures 320mm x 450mm.

This may be Tech Talk but I don’t want to overwhelm you! This is the simplified version.

Britain, Europe, Australia, and here in New Zealand primarily use the A Series of paper sizes. Whereas the US, Canada, and parts of Mexico are well-known to use the Imperial format.

Whatever your preferred paper series, there is a perfect size that will serve you well with your next printed project.

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