Paper Formats - Their Uses and Dimensions
Paper Formats - Their Uses and Dimensions
"Exploring Common Paper Formats and How to Choose the Right One for Your Project"
Paper formats are increasingly standardized with the aim of simplifying and achieving global uniform standards. There are however still some exceptions to this rule (some regional formats still exist), in some cases making printing more complicated and confusing than it should be.
This article aims to present and explain the standard paper formats that are used and referred to in the printing business. This will give you a clear overview of their uses and dimensions, which is crucial in helping you choose the right format for your printing products. Each standard format’s dimensions and uses for printing are summarized in a table, which you can view below.
To give you a quick introduction, here is some general printing knowledge! First of all, there are two industrial printing processes: digital and offset printing. On the one hand, digital printing uses large, and extremely sophisticated versions of the printers that some of you might use at your home or office. The largest digital printers can print on paper sheet formats B2 or even B1, which is BIG!
On the other hand, offset printing employs large mechanical presses which are capable of printing your artwork in four successive layers, each layer consisting of one of the four primary printing colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black - CMYK). Superposing these four primary colors in the right proportion yields the colors that you desire. The largest offset printing machines can print on paper sizes larger than B2, up to B0, which is even BIGGER than what digital machines can print on!
In a nutshell, the advantages of offset printing are the following:
1) Quality is higher than with digital printing, even though digital printing machines have undergone massive technological improvements that have raised quality a lot
2) Offset presents benefits associated with economies of scale (the more you print, the lower the price per individually printed item). However, digital printing tends to be favoured for lower quantities, since set-up costs are lower.
The most technologically advanced offset and digital printing machines are employed, to ensure the highest quality printing.
Now that you know a bit more about printing in general, let’s walk you through the actual paper formats and their dimensions. In your life, you must have heard people talking about A-formats, B-formats, and C-formats, without being sure of what they actually correspond to. We can clarify that for you.
The table below gives an overview of all the standard paper formats that are commonly used for printing products. You can choose to view the formats either in cm or inch, based on your preference. After the table, you can read more about B-formats, A-formats, and C-formats.
Please choose your preferred units
Although you won’t find it for any products on our website, B-formats are widely used in the printing industry, to refer to both paper sizes and printing press sizes.
Rule of Thumb:
The dimension of a specific format is such that it corresponds to the dimension of the format right above it folded in half. So a B2 sheet corresponds to a B1 sheet folded in half, the surface of the B2 sheet amounting to half the surface of a B1. This is also true for A- and C-formats. Please see the illustration below for an overview of B-format dimensions in mm.
As you may have recognised from the previous table, finished products that you can order through our website, such as flyers, leaflets, brochures, posters, and letterheads, are A-format. These are systematically slightly smaller than the corresponding B-formats.
The most common A-format that most of you should know is A4. This is likely to be the most commonly used paper size in your day-to-day life. Another, maybe slightly less commonly known paper size is A5. ,You might not be familiar with the term A5, however it is simply the size of an A4 sheet folded in half. A4 and A5 formats are extremely popular for flyers, folded leaflets, brochures, and letterheads.
Leaflets are usually ordered in A3 format because they are folded and the final product will end up smaller depending on the number of folds chosen.
A1 and A2, formats are popular for posters, given their large size and strong visual presence. The illustration below might help you put the various A-format dimensions into perspective.
Another paper format available on our website is C-format., which is mostly used for printing envelopes. All in all, C-formats are slightly larger in size than their corresponding A-format, and slightly smaller than their corresponding B-format. For instance, C4 sits in between A4 and B4. As a result, C4 envelopes can be used to mail unfolded A4 documents, C5 envelopes for unfolded A5 documents, etc. Please refer to the table below for C-format dimensions in cm.
For Wedding Cards and Postcards, the standard formats we offer are not standard A-formats, but rather formats in inch dictated by the industry.
If the standard formats that we offer are not what you are looking for, our website always offers the possibility to create custom formats that match your needs exactly.
Hopefully you now understand and can visualize what each format approximately corresponds to, which should simplify your task of choosing the right format for your products.
However, if you are still unsure, do not hesitate to give us a call, chat with us, or contact us.