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Legal vs. Letter Size and Other Paper Dimensions

July 06, 2020

Legal vs. Letter Size and Other Paper Dimensions

There are many, many different sizes of paper—and a corresponding name for each one. The most common confusion between US paper sizing is legal vs. letter. Do you know what the difference is, or which one you use in your office? Choosing the right type of paper can be a confusing process, especially since North America uses a different system than most of the world.

Continue reading to learn all about US and international paper sizes. We’ll mostly focus on legal vs. letter size, but you’ll also find A Series paper dimensions, as well as a dimensions chart that breaks down the inches, millimeters, and proper use for each size. 

 


 

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US vs. International Paper Sizes

This should come as no surprise, but the US does things a little bit differently than the rest of the world—and the same is certainly true of paper. The US, as well as Canada and parts of Mexico, uses Legal, Letter, and Ledger/Tabloid, which you’ll find in our chart below. 

Internationally, paper dimensions are defined by the ISO 216 standard, which specifies the trimmed sizes of writing paper. North America, as well as some parts of Latin America, is the only part of the world not to use ISO 216. The standard defines the A, B, and C series of paper sizes.

The most common is the A series. Each A series paper folded in half becomes the next in the A series. For example, A2 is half of A1, A3 is half of A2, A5 is half of A4, and so on.

     


     

    legal vs letter size

    Legal Size vs. Letter Size

    Letter and legal size are two of the most popular paper types around offices, especially in the US. You are likely familiar with both sizes, though they serve different purposes.

    Letter is the most common paper in the US. If you’ve ever used a printer in your life, you’ve used letter size paper.

    And now you may be wondering, just how large is legal size paper and will it fit in my printer? Legal size paper is longer than letter size paper, as the extra length lends itself better to the writing of contracts, such as those written for real estate deals, accounting, and in the legal profession.

    Most printers should be able to accommodate legal size paper, so long as you make the proper adjustments to the printer and choose the right settings before printing. Legal paper is the same width as regular printer paper, so you only need to adjust for the increased length. The same goes for photocopying legal size paper. You’ll need to adjust the settings and ensure you have legal paper to print on if you want to photocopy these longer documents.

       

       


       

      larry says

      Unless you’re looking to make enemies around the office, don’t forget to return the printer back to its original settings once you’ve finished.

       


        

      Now, if you’ve ever used legal size paper before, you know that it comes with its fair share of negatives. Legal paper won’t fit in a regular file folder, and sometimes not even a regular-sized filing cabinet drawer can accommodate their inflated size. Therefore, if you’re shopping for hanging file folders, keep an eye out for legal vs. letter size hanging folders. Legal size paper won’t fit in a letter hanging folder, and letter size paper will slip and slide in a legal hanging folder.

       


       

      letter page size

      Letter Page Size

      Letter size paper dimensions are 8.5 x 11 inches (215.9 x 279.4 mm).

      legal size

      Legal Page Size

      The page dimensions of legal paper are 8.5 x 14.0 inches (216 x 356 mm).

         

        Letter Size Legal Size Comparison 

         

        letter vs legal infographic

         

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        Legal vs. Letter Uses

        Letter is used more commonly than legal. It’s your standard printer paper you’ll find in most schools and office buildings. More than likely, if you’ve ever written an essay or a report of any kind, you’ve printed it out on letter paper. 

        In the past, legal paper was often used for writing contracts, though it’s common to find letter page dimensions in regular use today.

           


           

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          Legal Size vs. A4 Size

          Legal size paper is 8.5 x 14.0 inches (216 x 356 mm), whereas A4 size paper is 8.3 x 11.7 inches (210 x 297 mm). Legal and A4 size paper have little in common with each other, as legal paper is still taller than A4, which is much more closely related to letter size paper.

             


             

            letter vs a4 size icon

            Letter Size vs. A4 Size

            Letter size paper is 8.5 x 11 inches (215.9 x 279.4 mm), whereas A4 size paper is 8.3 x 11.7 inches (210 x 297 mm). 

            A4 is the most recognizable A paper size. It’s the international equivalent of the US letter size paper, though it’s taller and more narrow. It’s used for your average, everyday printing around the world. A4 is commonly used for business stationery letterheads, textbooks, essays, and reports.

               


               

              a3 size icon

              Letter Size vs. A3 Size

              Letter size paper is 8.5 x 11 inches (215.9 x 279.4 mm), whereas A3 size paper is 11.7 x 16.5 inches (297 x 420 mm).

              A3 is a large paper size commonly used as a chart for presentations, as well as movie posters, wall notices, and architectural plans.

                 


                 

                a5 size icon

                Letter Size vs. A5 Size

                Letter size paper is 8.5 x 11 inches (215.9 x 279.4 mm), whereas A5 size paper is 5.8 x 8.3 inches (138 x 210 mm).

                A5 has a wide variety of uses. It’s commonly used for booklets, pamphlets, diaries, journals and planners, flyers, and it’s a popular choice for paperback novels.

                   


                   

                  a6 size icon

                  Letter Size vs. A6 Size

                  Letter size paper is 8.5 x 11 inches (215.9 x 279.4 mm), whereas A6 size paper is 4.1 x 5.8 inches (105 x 148mm). 

                  A6 is a compact paper size that’s regularly used for postcards, flyers, and save the dates.

                     


                     

                    A Series and Letter Size Dimensions Chart

                     

                    Letter Type

                    Letter Size in Inches

                    Letter Size in MM

                    Paper Uses

                    Letter

                    8.5 x 11 inches

                    215.9 x 279.4 mm

                    ●     Printer paper

                    ●     School work

                    ●     Office documents

                    ●     Meeting notes

                    ●     Resumes

                    Legal

                    8.5 x 14.0 inches

                    216 x 356 mm

                    ●     Legal contracts

                    ●     Excel spreadsheets

                    ●     Real estate deals

                    Ledger

                    11.0 x 17.0 inches

                    279 x 432 mm

                    ●     Drawings

                    ●     Diagrams

                    ●     Posters

                    A0

                    33.1 x 46.8 inches

                    841 x 1189 mm

                    ●     Window displays

                    ●     Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings

                    ●     Posters

                    ●     Architectural plans

                    ●     Exhibition graphics

                    A1

                    23.4 x 33.1 inches

                    594 x 841 mm

                    ●     Window displays

                    ●     Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings

                    ●     Posters

                    ●     Architectural plans

                    ●     Exhibition graphics

                    A2

                    16.5 x 23.4 inches

                    420 x 594 mm

                    ●     Window displays

                    ●     Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings

                    ●     Posters

                    ●     Architectural plans

                    ●     Exhibition graphics

                    A3

                    11.7 x 16.5 inches

                    297 x 420 mm

                    ●     Posters

                    ●     Wall notices

                    ●     Architectural plans

                    ●     Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings

                    A4

                    8.3 x 11.7 inches

                    210 x 297 mm

                    ●     Reports

                    ●     Essays

                    ●     Textbooks

                    ●     Letterheads

                    ●     Training manuals

                    ●     Standard international printer paper

                    A5

                    5.8 x 8.3 inches

                    138 x 210 mm

                    ●     Booklets

                    ●     Pamphlets

                    ●     Diaries + Journals

                    ●     Planners

                    ●     Invitations

                    ●     Paperback novels

                    A6

                    4.1 x 5.8 inches

                    105 x 148 mm

                    ●     Save the dates

                    ●     Invitations

                    ●     Postcards

                    ●     Cue cards

                    ●     Flashcards

                    A7

                    2.9 x 4.1 inches

                    74 x 105 mm

                    ●     Large Post-it notes

                    ●     Tickets

                    A8

                    2.0 x 2.9 inches

                    52 x 74 mm

                    ●     Business cards

                    ●     Driver’s licenses

                    ●     Bank cards

                    A9

                    1.5 x 2.0 inches

                    37 x 52 mm

                    ●     Vouchers

                    ●     Tickets

                    A10

                    1.0 x 1.5 inches

                    26 x 37 mm

                    ●     Stamps

                     

                    A Series Comparison

                    A series paper dimensions work mathematically. Each size jump is the previous side in half. A0 in half is A1, A1 in half is A2, A2 in half is A3, all the way to A10.

                     

                    A series infographic

                     


                     

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                    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

                    Jordan works remotely, from home or abroad, on projects that increase brand awareness, online engagement, and website traffic. She specializes in clear and concise writing that helps businesses conquer their online messaging. Through human-centered content, she aims to delight both human readers and Google bots. Spark an immediate and detailed conversation by mentioning Mad Men or Game of Thrones.


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