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Guide to Paper Sizes

In the ISO paper size system, the height-to-width ratio of all pages is the square root of two (1.4142 : 1). In other words, the width and the height of a page relate to each other like the side and the diagonal of a square. This aspect ratio is especially convenient for a paper size. If you put two such pages next to each other, or equivalently cut one parallel to its shorter side into two equal pieces, then the resulting page will have again the same width/height ratio. See image below.

relationship between standard UK paper sizes

The ISO paper sizes are based on the metric system. The square-root-of-two ratio does not permit both the height and width of the pages to be nicely rounded metric lengths. Therefore, the area of the pages has been defined to have round metric values. As paper is usually specified in g/m², this simplifies calculation of the mass of a document if the format and number of pages are known.

The following table shows the width and height of all ISO A and B paper formats, as well as the ISO C envelope formats. The dimensions are in millimeters:


A Series Formats (mm)

B Series Formats (mm)

C Series Formats (mm)


1682 x 2378


1189 x 1682


841 x 1189


1000 x 1414


917 x 1297


594x 841


707 x 1000


648 x 917


420 x 594


500 x 707


458 x 648


297 x 420


353 x 500


324 x 458


210 x 297


250 x 353


229 x 324


148 x 210


176 x 250


162 x 229


105 x 148


125 x 176


114 x 162


74 x 105


88 x 125


81 x 114


52 x 74


62 x 88


57 x 81


37 x 52


44 x 62


40 x 57


26 x 37


31 x 44


28 x 40





What different types of paper may be used in my printer?

There are several factors to consider when choosing what type of paper to use in your printer. Paper textures vary and some types of papers work better in some printers than others:


Laser Printers – use heat and toner to produce text/images and require smoother paper for clearer results.


Inkjet Printers – use water-based ink and benefit from textured paper which allows the ink to dry faster and, more importantly, reduces bleeding to produce a sharper print.


Printer Paper

This is any kind of paper that is used in computer printers. Some common examples include laser paper, inkjet paper and photo paper. Printer paper is available in matte and glossy finishes.


Matte Paper - This has a bright white coating that dries quickly – recommended for everyday printing.


Glossy Paper - This has a shiny coating that absorbs ink for spontaneous drying. Normally, glossy paper is used for printing photographs, posters and other images, and gives a professional finish.


Laser Paper - It was designed specifically for the toner used in laser printers.


Photo Paper - As printing photos from a computer has become increasingly popular due to the use of digital cameras, photo paper gives the best results. It has a glossy or matte finish to allow the ink to dry efficiently; producing clear, sharp images.




Paper and Card Properties

Weight - If you're new to card making, you may be confused by the term ‘gsm’. This simply means the grams per square metre (i.e. a square metre of 250gsm card placed on the scales will weigh just that).

The paper that is sold by the ream (500 sheets) and used in printers or copiers is usually 80-90gsm. You can buy 160gsm card - this will go through your printer fine and can be used for backgrounds on cards. It is, however, much too light for making card blanks.


Any card that is 200gsm or more is classed as 'board'. Card that is 220gsm or more would be best used for card blanks. This weight of card is ideal for any every day card that only has a light embellishment or is perhaps stamped and embossed. For heavier embellishments, we would advise card between 260gsm – 300gsm.


Brightness - Contrast is a key element between the toner/ink and paper. The whiter the paper, the better your images and text will be. Most paper will have brightness rating of 80-100; therefore, higher numbers means brighter paper.


Opacity - This is a measure of how well a material prevents light passing through it. Standard copier paper is more translucent while heavier papers are more opaque.