So I’ve been confused lately. Paper sizes… photo sizes… frame sizes… why cant it just all be one of the same??! Well, I suppose that would make for very boring mono-sized art on peoples walls – forget I said that. Just having a rant. So to help clear up my confusion (and perhaps yours too)… let me continue with no hesitation to elaborate on 'PAPER SIZE'.
The ISO 216 standard is the international standard of paper sizes used in most of the world, however this excludes some big countries like the US, Canada, Mexico & the Dominican Republic. These excluded countries use the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) sizes. A throw back to working to standardise paper sizes also means the ‘legal’ or ‘foolscap’ sizing also still lurks around commonwealth countries too. Lets briefly look at these now…
Most of you readers will identify with the ‘A series’ paper that comes from the ISO 216 standard. These are based on an aspect ratio (width to height ratio) of the square root of 2 means that when the piece of paper is cut in half, the resultant pieces will have the same height to width ratio. Simply put again (incase maths isn’t your strong point), the height divided by the width equals the square root of 2. The base size of A0 has an area of one square meter. The benefits are obvious: documents can be up or downsized seamlessly. The A sizes within the ISO 216 standard are as follows - all in mm.
4A0 1682 x 2378
2A0 1189 x 1682
A0 841 x 1189
A1 564 x 841
A2 420 x 594
A3 297 x 420
A4 210 x 297
A5 148 x 210
A6 105 x 148
A7 74 x 105
A8 52 x 74
A9 37 x 52
A10 26 x 37
There is also a B series of sizes that was created through mean calculations between A sizes to allow for more size options… and a C series that is envelope sizes… but that is all beyond my purpose of this blog post.
The ANSI sizes account for the ‘letter’ document size commonly found in the page setup tab of word document size options – that’s if you’re in an ISO country! Basically, it’s really similar but not quite, and that matters when it comes to paper sizes. The ‘letter’ size is 216 x 279mm = close to A4. The ‘ledger’ or ‘tabloid’ size is 279 x 432mm = close to A3 < named according to orientation – ledger = landscape / horizontal & tabloid = portrait / vertical). Although these are close to common ISO sizes, the different aspect ratio (NOT the square root of 2) makes them incompatible to revert into without document skewing, cropping or modification.
The ‘legal’ size you also find within your word settings comes from another set of paper sizes know as ‘legal’ or ‘imperial foolscap’ sizing. This was used in the British Commonwealth before the introduction of the ISO 216 standard sizing and remains in use (along side ISO) in some commonwealth countries today. This is also not common enough for me to expand on, and again contains another different aspect ratio.
Each of these 3 systems need to be noted – as they each have a different ASPECT RATIO (width to height ratio). For more on how their aspect ratios differ this is helpful.
So that’s how the sizing for printed documents works. I mention this because a lot of pre-sized cheap frames come in these sizes, you may also like to make use of cheaper printing rates of printing images from a good quality ink jet printer at your local office shop. This is only half the story though, so stay tuned for another blog post on PHOTO SIZES – where aspect ratio gets a real work out!
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