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Business Cards Series

ISO 216

ISO 216

ISO 216, a standard established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), governs the dimensions of paper sizes worldwide, excluding North America. This globally recognized standard is part of the ISO 216 series and is integral to maintaining consistency in document production and reproduction.

The genius behind ISO 216 lies in its aspect ratio. The unique, square root of two ratio ensures that when a page is divided in half or doubled, it retains the same proportions. This feature facilitates seamless scaling between different paper sizes within the series.

ISO 216 paper dimensions


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2A046.81 x 66.221189 x 1682119 x 1683370 x 4768
A120.51 x 0.7113 x 181 x 237 x 51
4A066.22 x 93.621682 x 2378168 x 2384768 x 6741
A110.71 x 1.0218 x 262 x 351 x 74
A101.02 x 1.4626 x 373 x 474 x 105
A3+12.95 x 19.02329 x 48333 x 48933 x 1369
A1+23.98 x 35.98609 x 91461 x 911726 x 2591
A0+35.98 x 50.87914 x 129291 x 1292591 x 3662
A64.13 x 5.83105 x 14811 x 15298 x 420
A55.83 x 8.27148 x 21015 x 21420 x 595
A48.27 x 11.69210 x 29721 x 30595 x 842
A311.69 x 16.54297 x 42030 x 42842 x 1191
A91.46 x 2.0537 x 524 x 5105 x 147
A216.54 x 23.39420 x 59442 x 591191 x 1684
A82.05 x 2.9152 x 745 x 7147 x 210
A123.39 x 33.11594 x 84159 x 841684 x 2384
A72.91 x 4.1374 x 1057 x 11210 x 298
A033.11 x 46.81841 x 118984 x 1192384 x 3370

Under ISO 216, paper sizes are categorized into three series: A, B, and C. The A-series is most commonly used for printing documents such as letters and forms. The B-series caters to posters, wall charts, and other larger formats that don't fit within the A-series parameters. The C-series primarily serves envelopes designed to accommodate A-series paper.

The most widely recognized format within this standard is arguably A4. Measuring at 210 x 297 mm (8.27 x 11.69 inches), it's an international staple for business correspondence and academic papers alike.

Interestingly enough, ISO 216 has not been adopted universally; North America follows its own distinct system known as ANSI/ASME Y14.1 which includes familiar formats like 'Letter', 'Legal' and 'Tabloid'. Despite these regional differences in standards though, ISO 216 continues to be a dominant force shaping global document compatibility.

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Interesting facts about ISO 216

1: The Origins of ISO 216

ISO 216 paper sizes, commonly used worldwide, were first introduced by the German scientist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg in the late 18th century. However, it wasn't until the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted these sizes in 1975 that they became globally recognized.

2: A Series of Ratios

The ISO 216 paper series is based on a simple mathematical ratio. Each size in the series has a length-to-width ratio equal to the square root of two (√2). This means that when you divide a sheet in half along its longer side, you get two new sheets with the same proportions as the original.

3: A0 - The Largest Size

The largest size in the ISO 216 series is A0, which measures approximately 841mm x 1189mm (33.1in x 46.8in). It has an area of exactly one square meter and serves as the base for determining all other sizes within the series.

4: Folding Magic with A-series Paper

A fascinating aspect of ISO paper sizes is that if you fold an A-series sheet in half parallel to its shorter side, it will fit perfectly into a sleeve or envelope one size smaller. For example, folding an A3 sheet gives you an A4 size; folding an A2 sheet gives you an A3 size, and so on.

5: B-Series - An Alternative Option

In addition to the widely known A-series papers, there is also a less common B-series. These sizes have slightly different proportions but still maintain their √2 ratio within each subset. B-series papers are often used for posters, books, and passports.

6: C-Series - Envelopes Galore

The C-series paper sizes are specifically designed for envelopes. The most commonly used size is C4, which can fit an unfolded A4 sheet. Each subsequent size in the series can accommodate the previous size's unfolded sheet.

7: ISO Paper Sizes Are Not Limited to Europe

While ISO 216 paper sizes are widely used in Europe, they have also been adopted by many countries outside of Europe. This global acceptance ensures compatibility and ease of use when printing or copying documents across different regions.

8: The Golden Ratio Connection

The √2 ratio used in ISO paper sizes is closely related to the golden ratio (approximately 1.618). This ratio is often associated with aesthetics and harmony in design, making ISO paper sizes visually pleasing to many people.

9: An Ancient Chinese Influence

The concept of using a square root-based ratio for paper sizes dates back even further than Lichtenberg's proposal. It is believed that ancient Chinese papermakers were already utilizing similar principles as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).

10: The Quirky American Exception

In the United States and Canada, the standard letter-size paper (8.5in x 11in) does not conform to any specific ISO series size. However, it still follows a similar aspect ratio as A-series papers due to historical reasons and compatibility with older document formats.