Standard Paper Sheet Sizes in North America

ANSI sets the standards

Standard paper sheet sizes in North America

Lifewire / Grace Kim

Common sizes of sheets of paper known as North American sheet sizes are used in the graphic arts and printing industry in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) measures sheet sizes in inches, and bases the sheet sizes on multiples of the standard letterhead size: 8.5x11, 11x17, 17x22, 19x25, 23x35 and 25x38 are typical sheets. Outside North America, ISO sheet sizes, which are measured in millimeters, are used.

Standard North American Parent Sheet Sizes

Parent sheet sizes are the large standard sheets from which smaller sheets are cut. They are manufactured to these sizes at the paper mills and shipped as is to commercial printing companies and other paper users or cut to smaller sizes and shipped as cut sizes. The majority of bond, ledger, writing, offset, book, and text papers are available in one or more of these sizes:

  • 17x22 inches
  • 19x25 inches
  • 23x35 inches 
  • 25x38 inches 

Designing documents and print projects that make full use of these sheet sizes reduces paper waste and keeps the cost down. Some heavy papers come in other sizes — tag is available in a 22.5x28.5-inch sheet, index in 25.5x30.5-inch sheets, and cover in 20x26-inch sheets, for example. Check with your commercial printer before you design for these papers for the most economical cut from the parent sheets. 

Standard North American Cut Sheet Sizes

The North American cut sheet sizes are so familiar that even users in ISO countries are familiar with them. They are frequently mentioned in software programs, and these four common sizes are included in Cascading Style Sheets:

  • 8.5x11 (letter size)
  • 8.5x14 (legal size)
  • 11x17 (tabloid size)
  • 17x11 (ledger size)

These are not the only cut sizes, just the most commonly used ones. They are commonly sold in reams of 250 or 500 sheets.