Document Size Guide

Document Size Guide

The international paper size standard, ISO 216, is based on the German DIN 476 standard for paper sizes. ISO paper sizes are all based on a single aspect ratio of square root of 2, or approximately 1:1.4142. The base format is a sheet of paper measuring 1 m² 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. The most frequently used paper size is A4 (210 × 297 mm).

The main advantage of this system is its scaling: if a sheet with an aspect ratio of √2 is divided into two equal halves parallel to its shortest sides, then the halves will again have an aspect ratio of √2. Folded brochures of any size can be made by using sheets of the next larger size, e.g. A4 sheets are folded to make A5 brochures. The system allows scaling without compromising the aspect ratio from one size to another—as provided by office photocopiers, e.g. enlarging A4 to A3 or reducing A3 to A4. Similarly, two sheets of A4 can be scaled down and fit exactly 1 sheet without any cut-off or margins. Weights are easy to calculate as well: a standard A4 sheet made from 80 gram/m² paper weighs 5 grams (as it is one 16th of an A0 page, measuring 1 m²), allowing one to easily compute the weight—and associated postage rate—by counting the number of sheets used.

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