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A-Series Paper Sizes Compared: Dimensions and Uses

Paper Sizes

Does the phrase “A3 or A6 paper sizes” sound like gibberish to you? If so, you're not alone. Most people in North America are familiar with our standard paper sizes, which are most commonly represented by letter, legal, and tabloid. (Other North American sizes include junior legal, government letter, and ledger.) Each of these paper types is distinguished by its size, which is measured in inches.

The rest of the world does things a little differently. Most countries used the metric system to develop a set of standard sized paper, commonly represented by the A-Series. This includes the popular A3 and A6 paper sizes as well as A0, A1, A2, A4, A5, A7, A8, A9, and A10. Here's how each of the A-series paper sizes stack up:

A-Series Paper Sizes Chart Comparing Millimeters, Centimeters, and Inches

  Size in Millimeters Size in Centimeters Size in inches
A0 1189 x 841 118.9 x 84.1 46.8 x 33.1
A1 841 x 594 84.1 x 59.4 33.1 x 23.4
A2 594 x 420 59.4 x 42 23.4 x 16.5
A3 420 x 297 42 x 29.7 16.5 x 11.7
A4 297 x 210 29.7 x 21 11.7 x 8.3
A5 210 x 148 21 x 14.8 8.3 x 5.8
A6 148 x 105 14.8 x 10.5 5.8 x 4.1
A7 105 x 74 10.5 x 7.4 4.1 x. 2.9
A8 52 x 74 5.2 x 7.4 2 x 2.9
A9 37 x 52 3.7 x 5.2 1.5 x 2
A10 26 x 37 2.6 x 3.7 1 x 1.5

A0 is the largest; each size after that becomes progressively smaller. Specifically, each subsequent size is simply the result of cutting the previous size in half, so the proportions are preserved. To give you a sense of scale, the A4-sized paper is slightly larger than U.S. letter size and slightly smaller than U.S. legal size.

While the above sizes may sound foreign to many Americans, the A-Series has actually been around since the 1920s. It originated in Germany and took off throughout Europe. The series became so popular that the International Standardization Organization (ISO) adopted it in the 1970s. These days, most countries beyond North America rely on either the A-Series or the B-Series, which is slightly larger. There is also a C-Series used almost exclusively for envelopes.

Paper Buying Guide

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  • A0

    Thanks to its exceptionally large size, A0 is ideal for creating big architectural plans, CAD drawings, exhibition graphics, posters, window displays, and visual art.

  • A1

    Like A0, A1 is on the larger side—so many of common uses between the two overlap. These include posters, large graphics, window displays, CAD drawings, and visual art as well as flip charts.

  • A2

    A2's common uses overlap with those of A0 and A1, just in a slightly smaller package. These include visual art, CAD drawings, architectural plans, window displays, posters, and display graphics. Because A2 is smaller than A1 or A0, it's less effective for displays meant to catch people's eyes from a distance.

  • A3

    A3 is commonly used for commercial purposes such as brochures, diagrams, drawings, designer graphics, large tables, photo reproduction, and simple text printing. It may also be employed for smaller posters or wall notices.

  • A4

    Remember how this paper size is similar to U.S. letter or legal size? That means it's valuable for many of the same things as these sizes. Fill binders with A4 notepaper or use it for reports, presentations, training manuals, handbooks, or booklets. This size can also come in handy for making brochures, large event programs, or comic strip templates.

  • A5

    If you prefer notebook paper that's on the smaller side (but still provides plenty of room to write), then fill your notepads with A5. This is also a good option for brochures, event programs, good size flyers, and homemade journals or planners.

  • A6

    A6 is commonly used for foldable printouts such as advertisements, cards, flyers, invitations, and leaflets. It's also a popular size for postcards. If you prefer jotting down notes at meetings or conferences on something smaller than legal or letter size, then A6 is a good bet.

  • A7

    This size is ideal for anyone who likes to carry a notebook to conferences, workshops, and meetings. It's small enough to fit in a portable notebook but large enough for note taking.

  • A8

    Thanks to its small size, A8 is particularly well suited for business cards, bank cards, driver's licenses, Social Security cards, and tickets.

  • A9

    Tickets and coupons are the most common uses for the A9 paper size, which is the second-to-smallest option in the A-series. A9 may also be used for tiny notecards or announcement cards and corresponding envelopes.

  • A10

    This itty-bitty size is reserved for the tiniest print jobs, including coupons, stamps, and other printouts not intended to be written on.

When determining the right A-Series paper size for your needs, consider the intended purpose and audience, conventional sizes for the type of document you plan to print, the capabilities of your printer, cost, the size of your graphics file, and whether or not the document needs to be bound. Together, these factors should inform which A-Series paper size is best for you.

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