When designing for print, understanding the most common paper sizes can ensure you specify your project to suit your audience. For most of the world, 'A' paper sizes are based on an international standard. For a mixed global audience (especially if there is a strong American market bias) then selecting US paper sizes might be best.
Paper sizes in most countries, bar Canada and the USA, are governed by ISO 216 - yes, even the size of a piece of paper has governing rules. If you're after the really fine details on ISO 216, head here and you can buy the standard to print out (on a standard paper size of course) and read at your leisure.
The standard defines a series of paper sizes, with the 'A' series being the most commonly used. All have the same aspect ratio - put simply, when cut or folded in half widthwise, the halves also have the same aspect ratio. Each A paper size is therefore one half of the area of the next largest size. Simple, kind of.
The most commonly used of all the A sizes is A4 - 210mm x 297mm. A3 is the next size up and A5 the next size down. This handy illustration should help.
'A' series paper sizes you'll most commonly run in to are:
Now, US paper sizes are slightly different and you should be aware. If your client is based in the States or you're producing something which will be printed in the USA, then you need to adjust the size of your canvas when designing. America uses Letter, Legal, Executive and Ledger/Tabloid paper sizes.
The most common used is US Letter which is the closest US equivalent to A4, but you should also be aware of the following:
So now you know.
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