Paper Sizes – Why So Important?

Using a professional photo printer, you can print on a wide variety of paper sizes but not all paper sizes fall into the international ISO standard category. So, what exactly is this and why is it so important?

What is ISO standard?

ISO (International Organisation for Standards) is a body that determines recognised standards across many things including paper. Whilst there are multiple paper standards, the most common and recognisable one is the ‘A’ series which is standard in office environments (Unless you live in North America where their own system is still used).

‘A’ size papers can be found in sizes as big as A0 or as small as A10 but with A4 being the standard office document size.

The advantage of the ISO system is how it scales with each size being either twice as big or half the size of its adjacent paper size.

For example, A4 paper is exactly twice as large as A5 but half the size of A3.

How does this relate to photo paper?

Whilst most of the ‘A’ series are for office paper, there are many sizes that are commonly used for photo papers too. A4, A3 and A2 sizes are often seen in gloss, matte and other coated papers for photo printing.

In addition, you can often find A3+ size available in photo papers, but what is it?

A3+ as it suggests is a bigger than A3 size paper however, it is not a definitive recognised standard and manufacturers can have slightly different dimensions for their A3+ paper although they tend to be 13”x19”(329mm x 483mm).

If you’re planning to frame a large print, using A3+ can allow you to print an A3 image in the centre and keep a border, or alternatively this gives you the option of cutting down to A3 size meaning you need only buy one size of paper for both purposes.

Other photo paper sizes

Outside the recognised ISO paper sizes, there are a range of paper sizes often referred to as photo paper sizes or photo lab sizes – 

Whilst you may see most of these sizes available if ordering prints online, it is more common to see just the smaller 4”x6” and 5”x7” papers available for your home photo printer.

It is a good idea to plan your prints around readily available media sizes and so we would recommend sticking to 6×4, 5×7, A4, A3, A3+ and A2 sizes. Manufacturers such as Canon, Epson, HP and Xativa provide most of their media in this size range and your pro photo device will have these sizes as default options in the printer driver as standard.

The advantage of a pro photo printer is its media flexibility, so if you do find that you want to print on a non-standard paper size you can in most cases use a custom paper setting in the driver to accommodate most any size, just check your max/min paper size options on your own printer.

I hope this helps and if you have any more questions, please leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to help!