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Size matters, especially if you’re an artist or photographer looking to print your work. From gallery walls to living room spaces, you want to choose the right size. So you’ll want to know how to communicate size with your printers. Photographic paper is available in numerous sizes and formats so no matter your requirements, there is probably a paper size to fit. In the UK, paper is size is usually measured in millimetres or in a standard known as ISO 216. Today we’re exploring the different photographic paper sizes.

ABC’s of Paper Sizes

There are so many names and codes when it comes to paper sizing. But where did they come from and what do they mean? ISO 216 is an international standard for paper sizing widely used all over the world today, with the exclusion of the United States, Canada, and parts of Mexico, where ISO standard paper sizes are not widely used. This standard sets out 3 individual series of paper sizes, A, B, and C.

You have probably already come across some of the paper sizes listed in the A-Series. These are the standard A4s and A3s usually used for posters, flyers, etc. Each A size is half the size of the last. For example, an A4 sized sheet is half the size of an A3 sheet. This ratio is particularly useful when manufacturing paper.

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In 1786 German scientist and philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg recognised the advantages of basing paper sizes on this ratio. By 1975 it became an official metric standard for paper sizing. Advantageous for paper manufacturers, they could mass-produce the largest-sized sheets or pads of paper with smaller products cut from them without any waste.

RA vs. SRA Paper Sizes

RA and SRA paper formats are two additional series of paper sizes that you may come across. They are both measured based on the standard A Size format. RA or Raw Format A and is 105% of the corresponding A size. SRA or Supplementary Raw Format A is 115% of the corresponding A size and allows for bleeds and trims.

Bleed For Printing Artwork

When you’re looking to print your work you may come across another term in addition to the paper size. Bleed and trims may be required to make sure your image looks its best when printed. Bleed is added to designs to ensure that when printed and trimmed, the artwork or photograph is finished at the A-size and that edge-edge printing remains. It also ensures that none of the artwork is cut into.

Image Source: Printing Centre USA

3mm on each side of your artwork is a standard size for bleed. Make sure you have bleed around the top, bottom, left & right of your piece. This should add up to 6mm on both the horizontal and vertical axis. If you need a hand, pop into our Hackney-based studio to meet the team or get in touch by phone or live chat. Whether your printing needs, Beyond Print is here to help! Get in touch!



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