Tutorial on Paper Sizes and Paper Products.

This Page covers cut sheets of paper, continuous paper for computer printers, some manuscript books and diaries as well as notepads and blotting paper. As Jubilee is based in Europe, it is written from a European perspective. We do however supply products in many other parts of the world. In the Americas for example, paper sizes are generally quite different and the weights are expressed differently.
Please get in touch with us if you need paper sizes not mentioned on our Website. We will be happy to help.

Which Way Up?

The terms 'Portrait' and 'Landscape' are often used to indicate that a product such as a ring-binder is designed so that the rings go through holes punched along the LONG edge (portrait) or the SHORT edge (landscape) of the papers they hold. So you hear about A4 portrait (the most common ring binder) and A3 landscape (not a common product at all). Sometimes the terms 'Upright' and 'Oblong' are used in place of the other terms but these should be treated with caution. The term 'Oblong' is especially unhelpful. Sizes are quoted width first, then height, so A3 landscape is 420x297mm.

Cut sheets.

Stock sizes are nowadays generally accoding to ISO standards, which means they are measured in metric units, i.e. millimetres.
There are some useful metric to imperial conversion factors on this site if you need them.

The 'A' series of paper sizes are all related to each other, each 'A' size is one-half of the size of the next larger size. If you fold a sheet of A4 paper in the middle so that the folded edge is 210mm long, the folded sheet is A5 in size. All sizes are specified in millimetres, but approximate Imperial measurements (inches) are given in the table.
2A1189x1682.....46.81x66.22
A0 841x1189.....33.125x46.75
A1 594x 841.....23.375x33.125
A2 420x 594.....16.5 x23.375
A3 297x 420.....11.75 x16.5
A4 210x 297..... 8.25 x11.75
A5 148x 210..... 5.875x 8.25
A6 105x 148..... 4.125x 5.875
A7 74x 105..... 2.875x 4.125

'A' sized papers are generally cut from SRA1 (640mm x 900mm, 25.25" x 35.5") or SRA2 (450mm x 640mm, 17.75" x 25.25") stock.

Most cut sheets can be supplied pre-punched (drilled) to allow ring-binding. European ring-binders tend to have two or four rings, American binders often have three. There are numerous proprietary punching patterns for presentation binders, diaries and small-run production of documents such as technical manuals.

Photocopier paper is usually supplied wrapped in 'reams' of 500 sheets per ream and packed for protection into boxes of 2,500 sheets, i.e. a pack of five reams. Some of the heavier photocopier papers (100gsm and more, see Weights ) may be packed in boxes of four reams, i.e. 2,000 sheets per box. Larger and heavier papers may not be boxed, but are supplied in flat packs of 250, 200 or even 100 sheets per pack.

Continuous Paper for Computer Printers.

The most common sizes for continuous paper are based on the American standard forms which are eleven inches from top to bottom. Horizontal perforations will be spaced this distance apart, or sometimes a fraction of it such as 5.5 inches. It is important to realise that printers will normally feed paper by fractions of an INCH so the ISO metric sizes of paper can present a problem.

Most printers feed paper one-sixth of an inch per line unless you somehow tell them otherwise. This means that there will be 6 lines per inch, i.e. 66 lines of print on a sheet of paper (a form) which is eleven inches from top to bottom. The nearest approximation to ISO A4 sized paper (297mmx205mm) is usually eleven and two-thirds inches between the perforations, which gives 70 lines per form. Some forms are perforated every twelve inches which gives 72 lines at six lines per inch.

The width of the paper is generally not such a problem as the height, but make allowance for the waste of paper width caused by the tractor feed mechanism of your printer. Most continuous paper has 'sprocket holes' along each side which the printer's tractor feed mechanism uses to feed the paper by precise amounts. Very often there are perforations on each side of the paper, allowing a strip of paper about half an inch wide to be removed from the forms after printing. The stock sizes quoted for continuous paper INCLUDE these strips so for a finished size of 8.5"x11" you need to order 9.5"x11" paper. Stock widths vary a few millimetres from one manufacturer to another (some quote sizes in inches, some in millimetres, some in both and some even mix them so you can get continuous paper 240mm x 11 inches in size!). This is why you often have some adjustment available on your printer to move the paper from side to side a small amount.

Typical widths of stock continuous papers are 9.5", 235mm, 240mm, 241mm and 14.5" but of course you can have any size made to order if the quantity justifies the expense.

Common weights for continuous papers are 60 (very light) 65, 70, 75 and 80 gsm. 100gsm is a heavy paper and if you want to use paper heavier than 100 gsm you should check that your printer, copier or fax machine is capable of handling it. The user's manual should tell you. If it does not, call us and we will help as much as we can. Use caution in testing with any samples we may provide, the responsibility for damage to your printer from using a paper which is too heavy is entirely yours!

Listing paper is most often packed in boxes of 2000 sheets. Heavy papers may be boxed 1,000 sheets per box, and multi-part forms such as our own three-part NCR (No Carbon Required) invoices sets may be packed only 500 forms per box. Make sure that you know the boxed quantities when planning your ordering. It is usual to order listing paper by the box, but printed forms such as invoices by the number of forms. We are always happy to advise if there is any doubt.

Manuscript Books, Notepads.

Many manuscript books, pads, diaries, packs of graph paper etc. conform to the ISO A-series sizes above or one of the following:

Quarto 8" x10" ......203mmx254mm
Foolscap 8" x13" ......203mmx330mm
American Foolscap 8.5"x13" ......216mmx330mm
Executive 7.5"x10" ......191mmx254mm
Letter 8.5"x11" ......216mmx279mm
Legal 8.5"x14" ......216mmx356mm

These are Imperial sizes and the metric equivalents in the table may be approximate. The first three are almost obsolete, the last three are more common in the Americas than here in Europe.

It is common for the description of pads and books to include the number of pages, but you may occasionally see a number of leaves. Each leaf has two sides, in theory there are two pages to every leaf.

Blotting Paper.

Blotting paper sheets are usually DEMY (17.5" x 22.5", 445mm x 570mm) or HALF-DEMY (11.25" x 17.5", 285mm x 445mm) and sizes may be very approximate.

Weights of Paper.

It is usual to express grades of paper by the weight of one square metre of the paper. Good-quality photocopier paper and continuous listing paper is typically 80gsm (grammes per square metre, often abbreviated to simply "80gram" or "80g"). Lightweight listing paper can often be as little as 60gsm. This will probably still work fine in your printer, but be prepared to have problems with lightweight papers in photocopiers and laser printers. Inkjet printers are more fussy about the surface than the weight, see below. Paper of 120gsm and more can sometimes cause problems in laser printers and copiers.

Surface Roughness, Treatments.

Papers often have a surface treatment which reduces the number of fibres protruding from the surface and the surface porosity. Some (mostly older) inkjet printers and some writing instruments such as fountain pens, and their inks, behaved badly with rather absorbent paper surfaces. Some manuscript books and diaries are made with papers which have more or less rough or absorbent surfaces. If you use the products you will probably by now have found a paper which suits your printer, pen or whatever. Please let us know if you have problems on this score, we will be glad to help you to find a suitable paper product.

Water Content.

Paper should not be stored in damp conditions, as it will absorb moisture and when moist paper is dried quickly it tends to wrinkle. This will happen when it passes through the fuser (usually a heated roller) in your copier or laser printer (a photocopier and a laser printer, and some plain paper fax machines, have pretty much the same printing mechanisms), causing paper jams. Some papers are much less prone to wrinkling in this way than others, and Jubilee Office Supplies makes a point of selling papers which behave well in this respect. There is no point in our sending paper to you, only to have you send it straight back to us.

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