Understanding Common Paper Sizes

Writing with a fountain pen is an enjoyable experience all on its own. But what makes for a significantly smoother writing session is using fountain pen friendly paper! It’s true, paper can make all of the difference. When you first look into fountain pen friendly paper and notebooks, it can be a bit overwhelming to understand all of the sizes and options available. Goulet Pens always lists the product dimensions and technical specs on our product pages, so you can be be informed about the products you’re interested in. But it can still be confusing to understand different product sizes that you are unfamiliar with when shopping online. We have created an easy infographic to help you understand paper and notebook sizes relative to each other, so you can compare new products to some of your trusted favorites to understand the size.

Infographic of International Standard Paper Sizes

If you’re interested in any of the notebooks featured above, you can find more information on each product page at Gouletpens.com.

Do you have a favorite paper size that you prefer to use?

Write on, 
The Goulet Pen Company Team 

2017-10-11T13:45:47+00:00 April 15th, 2016|Fountain Pen 101, Paper Reviews|58 Comments
  • Andrew Livelsberger

    Excellent explanation of this. I was confused for a long time. Shows the power of what a visual can do!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      So glad you found it helpful, Andrew!

  • Gordon Tillman

    Good info! For the longest time, my favorite paper size has been A5. I’ve been an avid Bullet Journal person for quite some time and an A5 journal was, for me, a reasonable compromise between portability and adequate space to write. As an additional bonus, you can easily scan a full spread (two facing pages) at one time on a normal flat-bed scanner with an A5 size journal.

    About 1 month ago my wife surprised me with the gift of a Midori Traveler’s Notebook (standard size), so I have been carrying that around. The height of the paper is about the same as an A5, but the width is narrower. I do like these quite a bit. (You guys just shipped four of the #001 refills to me this morning). But Midori definitely does not use what you would call a standard paper size.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Yes, some companies go rogue on their paper sizes. We tried to make this infographic as inclusive as possible but sadly, there will always be outliers.

  • Cr0wscall

    Thank You for producing this excellent resource!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      I’m glad you find it helpful!!!

  • bit101
    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      That is super helpful as well!

      • Therese Heckel

        This is the one my spouse drew up for me…he’s French and I had to teach him the Imperial/American measurements. It was fun. Thanks for all the diagrams! They do help.

        • Lydia At Goulet Pens

          So glad to hear they have proved helpful!

  • Yay America, always (annoyingly?) going against the grain in all things measurement. πŸ™‚

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Haha, measurements were never my strong suit.

    • Tom Johnson

      Wow, a seriously misplaced prejudice full of ignorance. All of these “American” measurements you refer to predated America by hundreds of years and are not “American” at all. If anything, metric and ANSI are the measurement systems “going against the grain” of established ancient measurement systems. To change over would cost industry billions of dollars, and in the long run gain little. You need a better sense of history. I embrace the diversity of measurements, it makes life interesting.

      • Christine Salvatore

        I think that the measurements not being the same in the US is exactly what ekmoore is getting at. I read her post as saying “Of course, the US goes against the grain of what everyone else in the world (practically) uses.” Yes, it would be a pill to change everything in the US from the current paper sizing to what the rest of the world (practically) uses. We’ve made such changes before: going from zones in cities for mailing (Detroit 32 Michigan), to zip codes, to zip+5; going from dialing 4 digits to call the next door neighbor to dialing 10 to call the same person; from doing everything by hand to having computers do the bulk of our work for us, etc., etc. But the end result would be that we’d have a more uniform worldwide sizing, and wouldn’t that be worth it? It wouldn’t have to happen overnight. The US is ever so slowly switching to the metric system. After all, no one buys a half gallon bottle of soda, do they? Nope! They buy a two liter bottle!

      • Starchix

        Yes, I believe we can blame metric on Napoleon. He didn’t invent it, but he promulgated it.

  • Alexander Nielsen

    A3 Rhodia dotPad ftw πŸ˜‰ It is utterly amazing, so big πŸ˜€

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      What do you like to use your dotpad for? I feel like it’s such a versatile pad, good for notes or sketching without being disrupted by lines.

      • Alexander Nielsen

        I am studying mathematics, so sometimes an equation can drag on for quite a while, so having the space (and dots) to make clean notes helps a lot πŸ™‚

        • Lydia At Goulet Pens

          Ah. That makes perfect sense. πŸ™‚ Definitely must help not to be trapped in by the lines of traditional notebook paper too.

        • Aquaria

          I’ve eyed some A3 notebooks for my math work, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet. The most I’ve committed to is the Maruman B5 to B4 fold out paper.

  • Marla K. Brumbaugh

    This is a VERY USEFUL graphic! Just yesterday, I spent an hour trying to discern this for myself!!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Oh man! We were a day too late. Sorry, Marla! Hope you can have it handy next time you are stumped about paper sizes. πŸ™‚

      • Marla K. Brumbaugh

        I absolutely do . . . and thanks so much for it!

  • Thudthwacker

    Very nice work, and some quite excellent notebooks and pads. I confess that, while I like a nice A5 notebook (I’ve got Apica, Leuchtturm, and Clairefontaine) for tucking into an oversized jacket pocket, I think B5 is my overall favorite notebook size — plenty of room to write, but still nicely portable (when compared to an A4 or US Letter-sized notebook).

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      The B5 size is getting a good deal of love here in the comments. It’s making me intrigued to find and try one myself!

  • lgsoltek

    My favourite paper size is B5. A4 is too big, A5 is too small, and B5 is just the right size. It seems the B-sizes are not common in the US, but it’s quite popular here in East Asia. The B5 is 176mm Γ— 250mm or 6.93in Γ— 9.84in.

    • Tom Johnson

      Very interesting, Igsoltek, I’m not familiar with the B sizes of paper. This does seen to be a good size. I have one A4 size notebook, and it stays on my desk, too large to take with me very often. I do love it for writing practice and pen testing, but the B5 sounds like a very useful size. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Very interesting! That does sound like a happy medium between the two.

  • I’m a huge fan of the A5 size for my EDC. I’m actually hoping to pick up a Leuchtturm planner for 2017, as my current planner is… a bit large.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      The A5 is definitely the perfect everyday size. Small enough to be easily portable, but large enough to permit a fair amount of writing space. What color Leuchtturm do you have your eye on?

      • Oh my, I have to choose just one color? Well, I already have notebooks in blue and pink (work and personal), so maybe green for a planner? It will be a debate.

        • Lydia At Goulet Pens

          It’s a tough choice for sure! Better get one of each just to be safe πŸ˜‰ I’m partial to the Purple myself. πŸ™‚

  • Tom Johnson

    What a wonderful reference tool! I hope it is put under the “Resources” tab on the Goulet web page. I have notebooks or pads of each of these sizes of paper, and each size fits a niche in my needs. Here we see how logical the A paper sizes are and how they relate to each other. I once asked a lawyer why all our legal papers (patent documents) were larger than 8.5 x 11. I was told that it went back a very long time and was a size of paper that precluded a document being easily concealed in a person’s clothing to reduce the chances of theft. Don’t know if this is true or not. But, you have given us a wonderful tool! Thank you very much.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Oh wow, Tom! What an interesting fact. I never knew that about legal paper. So cool! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathy

      Tom, I’ve never heard that story about legal paper, but it sounds plausible. At any rate, I’ve always loved legal sized paper, with narrow ruling.

  • Katherine Stewart

    Perfect! This is what I needed (fist pump!) !! What it does for me is give me a direct comparison of the notebooks, the examples of what those sizes are is what I needed the most. Thank you very very much!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      You’re welcome, Katherine. Glad we could help! πŸ˜‰

  • onkiovtuen

    My favorite overall is the B5 size — not too big, not too small. With its 7mm ruling and open-flat spine, the Apica Premium CD B5 is about as close to my ideal notebook as I’m going to find. For a pad, I tend to favor the A6 sizes. Again, for the purpose, neither too big nor too small.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Wow! Glad you found an awesome specific notebook that works well for you. Always feels good to have that to fall back on.

  • Queen Nana

    What a great reference tool. Spent most of an afternoon a few weeks back gathering just what you have posted. Now if you can do the same for envelope sizes, what a great reference guide it would be. I found out not all envelope sizes are equal as far as postage rates go. Most sizes are the current first class postage rate. Some envelopes postage rates are $0.71 per due to the odd size. Good work on the chart.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Oh wow! I didn’t realize some envelopes had different postage rates either! Thanks for the tip. I will pass the envelop recommendation on. Thank you!

      • Dezi Vanderpool

        Non-Machineable Envelopes

        Unusually shaped mail, like square or vertical envelopes, lumpy envelopes, rigid envelopes, and mail with clasps, string, buttons, must be hand-cancelled. They are charged a non-machineable fee even if they weigh less than 1 oun

  • Aquaria

    What paper I use depends on what I need to do.

    I use a lot of A4 paper and notepads. The Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination notebook is fantastic for math classes, because I can accommodate nearly all long equations on one line. I also use loose leaf A4 for graphics-intensive notes, like in my biological anthropology course (lots of charts, graphs, timelines, graphics, etc), or for notes where I need to log large blocs of information, so that I don’t have to flip through lots of pages to access it. For example, I need to see all of the ways to express reasons in Japanese using copula verbs, i-adjectives and na-adjectives, and it helps to have lengthy, complex info like that on one page.

    B5 loose leaf is good for classes where I have notes that are more free form, and to turn in short work like quizzes or other in-class assignments. I also like B5 Apica Premium CD notebooks for journals. For my math class, I have some B5 paper by Maruman that folds out to B4 size, and that’s awesome for quizzes that have a mix of long and short problems, along with graphs.

    I use loose A5 paper for letters and small A5 Midori Color notebooks for rote-memorization information like science laws/terminology, vocabulary lists, tenses/verb conjugations or math theorems and formulas. I usually keep these in my purse. That way if I’m out and about and I’m stuck waiting for that friend who’s always late to lunch, or in a waiting room, I can get in some studying while I wait without having to lug my books along, too.

    I use B7 notebooks for quick lists. I also keep a Maruman Sept Coleur B7 notebook in my car console for important info on the go, like insurance info, car repair contacts, the phone number of my dealership, emergency contact info, medication info, and so on, in case I’m in an accident. The same information is in my agenda, but I don’t always take that with me if I’m doing a quick errand. Better to keep that in the car where it’s always available, and everything’s in one place.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Those sound like awesome ways to utilize the different paper sizes! Very cool! I like especially your notebook in the car with all your important numbers. That’s a fantastic idea!

    • Tom Johnson

      Great idea having the information handy in your card. Thanks for sharing.

  • I love a bit smaller for notes or written journalling — A5 — though my favortie journal is make the Cadic OE journal — I like the grid/lines, the back flap, and buy them by the case. (http://www.okinasales.com/oenotevflap.html) What I’d LOVE for Goulet to do is to cater to artists too. One stop shopping, with good 150lb paper in A4 and A5 sizes…. Many rage about Stillman and Birn but really, it is very so-so, I hate the new covers, and so I buy Moleskins A4. STILL the best paper/notebooks.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      I will pass that suggestion along. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

  • k8seren

    I wish the US would just adopt the A sizes, makes so much more sense than our arbitrary sizes.

    How do the “B” sizes fit into this?

  • jbl_inAZ

    I would like to see a reference guide that helps me understand paper weights. For instance, I typically use 20 lb paper or 24 lb paper, but I don’t know how that corresponds to the metric weights specified on the paper product pages.

  • tanya a.

    Offer more products in A6. The journaling community loves the A6 size.

    • Starchix

      Ha! This journaling community (of me) loves the A4 size or as close to 8.5″ x 11″ as possible!

  • Christine Salvatore

    This is terrific! The only complaint I have has nothing to do with what you offer here, but the originator of the size names. Why don’t they go UP as the sizes go UP, not Down as the sizes go UP! That confuses me no end! I’ll jump on the “I use lots of different sizes” bandwagon. You can never have too many fountain pens or too many notebooks!

    • Therese Heckel

      They wanted to challenge everyone’s minds! πŸ™‚

    • Thecactusslayer

      It’s so that you can keep halving the paper sizes without changing the names. If the biggest was A7, what would the smallest size below the now-A0 be?

  • Susan Dollhopf

    Thanks for the info – I keep forgetting which way the numbers go. Have you considered printing this handy info on the sticker or bookmark that you include when mailing out orders?

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      That is an interesting idea, Susan. I can definitely suggest it.

  • My favorite, that I never let myself run out of, is the Rhodia No. 13 Lined. Which I guess according to this graphic is an A6 size pad. It fits perfect in a shirt pocket, jacket, blazer, vest. coat or in cargo pockets, the notepad cover is tough enough not to fall apart before the paper gets used up, it’s a good size to jot a note down quick or make a shopping list or parts list, the paper takes ink very well but is resilient enough that it is at home on a desk or a work bench.. It’s just my favorite size and works good for me. Now I know that it’s an A6 I can also look at some other brands and makes because it doesn’t SAY “A6” anywhere on the pad.

    I must not be alone in my preference for the Rhodia No. 13 Lined pad, because they are often hard to find and/or sold out, even at Goulet Pens.

    Sometimes ordering things over the internet is a gamble because you can’t actually SEE and HOLD the thing you’re considering buying … So you don’t always end up with what you expect or want.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Leslie Ward

    Oh, thank you so much for creating this infographic to help us understand paper and notebook sizes! It’s very useful! And I would like to share with you with this link 99papers This is one of the best writing service I have ever seen. I ordered from them some workes, and I can say they did them perfectly!