Letter, legal, letter, legal, and tabloid paper sizes

In the American continent, a system of paper measurements is used that is different from the rest of the world. The types and dimensions of paper on the American scale are:

  • Paper
  • Oficio (also known as folio)
  • Letter
  • Legal
  • Tabloid

These formats and measures are different from the international standard, known as ISO 216 or European format. However, in many cases “equivalences” are used, such as the use of letter size instead of A4 format (one of the most used in the world), although their measurements are not the same.

Letter , legal , letter , legal and tabloid size paper sizes

Paper sizeMillimetersCentimetersInches
Paper220 x 280 mm22 x 28 cm8.6 x 11 inches
Legal (folio)220 x 340 mm22 x 34 cm8.6 x 13.3 inches
Letter216 x 279 mm21,6 x 27, 9 cm8.5 x 10.9 inches
Legal216 x 356 mm21, 6 x 35, 6 cm8.5 x 14 inches
Tabloid279,4 x 431,8 mm27,9 x 43,1 cm11 x 17 inches

Letter and letter sizes are almost the same, so they are considered and used as the same format.

Difference between the paper formats of the European system (A4) and the American (letter)

Difference between letter, folio and legal size and DIN A series

In Canada, the United States and almost all Latin American countries the letter, letter , legal and tabloid formats are used , based on the American metric system, so the formats are in inches and differ substantially from the world standard, not only in the unit of measurement, but in the proportions of the paper.

This system has been used for decades in the countries mentioned, but it was only in 1995 that the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) included these paper measures in its classification.

For its part, the European paper size system emerged at the end of the First World War as a practical solution to avoid wasting this resource.

This system, which was originally called DIN 476, was created by the German engineer Walter Porstmann, who established the sheet formats that today are known as the A, B and C series, of which the most popular is the A series. Because it contains the most used page measurements on a day-to-day basis, such as the A4 format (used in printers, photocopiers, document drafting, etc.).

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Paper sizes and ISO 216 standard

As the paper measurement system created in the postwar period under the name DIN 476 turned out to be efficient with the passage of time, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in charge of the standardization of norms for the optimization of processes, adopted the system created by Walter Porstmann to create the ISO 216 standard, which for technical reasons is the one used almost everywhere in the world, except for the vast majority of the American continent.

This means that the paper formats of the A series, the DIN 476 standard and the ISO 216 standard refer to the same thing .

In many cases, for practical reasons, substitutions are made between formats of the American and European systems. That is the reason why letter size (American system) is often used as a substitute for A4 (European system) and vice versa. However, the measures between the two are different, and by ignoring these specifications, mistakes can be made that imply large-scale economic losses (as in the case of the printing or publishing industry).

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