Architectural Paper Sizes 101 – Understanding arch paper size

No matter what medium you use to create your drawings, the final output will almost always be plotted onto paper...

No matter what medium you use to create your drawings, the final output will almost always be produced on a standard architectural paper size. Even for digital files, an architectural paper size is extremely useful for defining the extents of the document.

Whether it’s manual drafting, CAD, BIM, or 3D, whether you have a legitimate interest in paper sizes or not – knowing what size to use can help you breeze through the final steps of your drawing.

Here we guide you through the most commonly used architecture paper sizes – but to get straight to point, the below table provides the key sizes used for most architecture drawings and documents:

Paper SizeDimensions (inches)Dimensions (mm)
ISO 216 Standard Paper Sizes
A033.1 x 46.8841 x 1189
A123.4 x 33.1594 x 841
A216.5 x 23.4420 x 594
A311.7 x 16.5297 x 420
A48.3 x 11.7210 x 297
A55.8 x 8.3148 x 210
Arch Paper Sizes
ARCH A9 x 12229 x 305
ARCH B12 x 18305 x 457
ARCH C18 x 24457 x 610
ARCH D24 x 36610 x 914
ARCH E36 x 48914 x 1219
ARCH E130 x 42762 x 1067

What is the typical size of architectural drawings?

Depending on practice operations, the most popular architectural paper sizes are the A series paper sizes, which are part of the ISO 216 paper standards. The A series paper sizes are widely used for printing architectural drawings, blueprints, and other large format documents.

The A series paper sizes are designated by a code that consists of the letter “A” followed by a number. The number indicates the size of the paper, with larger numbers corresponding to smaller paper sizes.

The dimensions of the A series paper sizes are determined by the ratio between the length and width, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4). This means that each larger size in the A series is half the size of the previous one, and each smaller size is double the size of the next larger size.

The most commonly used A series paper sizes for architectural drawings are A0, A1, A2, and A3. A0 is the largest size and is typically used for printing detailed technical drawings, while A1, A2, and A3 are smaller sizes that are often used for printing architectural plans and elevations.

It is also worth noting that the arch paper size standard, which is specific to the United States, is commonly used for architectural drawings in that country.

The arch paper sizes include sizes such as Arch A, Arch B, Arch C, Arch D, Arch E, and Arch E1. These sizes are designated by their width, which increases as the size gets larger.

The table below provides a breakdown of the most popular ISO and Arch architectural paper sizes:

ISO 216 standard paper sizes

  • A0: 33.1 x 46.8” (841 x 1189mm)
  • A1: 23.4 x 33.1” (594 x 841mm)
  • A2: 16.5 x 23.4” (420 x 594mm)
  • A3: 11.7 x 16.5” (297 x 420mm)
  • A4: 8.3 x 11.7” (210 x 297mm)
  • A5: 5.8 x 8.3” (148 x 210mm)

Arch paper sizes

  • ARCH A: 9 x 12” (229 x 305mm)
  • ARCH B: 12 x 18” (305 x 457mm)
  • ARCH C: 18 x 24” (457 x 610mm)
  • ARCH D: 24 x 36” (610 x 914mm)
  • ARCH E: 36 x 48” (914 x 1219mm)
  • ARCH E1: 30 x 42” (762 x 1067mm)

To cover this in more depth…

What are the standard architecture paper sizes?

Paper sizes have been largely standardized since the 20th century, adapting to factors such as mass production, printer requirements, and global application.

Through decades of use with modern printers and storage, standard paper sizes have continually been streamlined to be better optimized for content, and more adaptable for different regions, printers, and screens.

Much like the use of metric and imperial units for measurement, there are two major standard sets being used for architectural paper sizes.

North America uses ANSI (American National Standards Institute) sizes, while ISO (International Standards Organization) sizes are the official standard for the rest of the world.

ISO 216 standard (international mm) paper sizes

ISO 216 is an international standard that defines a series of paper sizes based on the ratio between the length and width of the paper, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4).

The ISO 216 standard includes a series of paper sizes called the A series, which is used for a wide range of applications including printing documents, technical drawings, and other types of graphics.

The A series paper sizes are designated by a code that consists of the letter “A” followed by a number (as per the sizes chart below_. The number indicates the size of the paper, with larger numbers corresponding to smaller paper sizes.

For example, A4 is a smaller size than A3, and A5 is a smaller size than A4. The dimensions of the A series paper sizes are determined by the ratio between the length and width, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4).

This means that each larger size in the A series is half the size of the previous one, and each smaller size is double the size of the next larger size.

The ISO 216 standard also includes a series of paper sizes called the B series, which is used for envelopes and other specialized applications.

The B series paper sizes are similar to the A series, but are slightly larger to accommodate the additional space needed for folding and enclosing documents in an envelope.

The ISO 216 standard is widely used internationally and is the basis for many national and regional paper size standards. It is commonly used in countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere around the world.

a1 paper size - Architectural Paper Sizes

Arch paper sizes

Architectural paper sizes in the United States are commonly measured by the Arch paper size series, where the system of sizes is used for most (if not all) architectural drawings, blueprints, and other large format documents.

They are part of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) paper size standard and are based on the traditional “architect’s pad” size, which was historically used by architects to sketch building plans.

The arch paper size series includes sizes such as Arch A, Arch B, Arch C, Arch D, Arch E, and Arch E1. These sizes are designated by their width, which increases as the size gets larger.

For example, Arch A is the smallest size and has a width of 9 inches, while Arch E is the largest size and has a width of 36 inches.

The height of each size is determined by the ratio between the width and length, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4). This means that the height of each size is approximately equal to the width divided by the square root of 2.

Arch paper sizes are not part of the ISO 216 standard, which is the international standard for paper sizes. However, they are widely used in the United States for architectural and construction documents.

Other North American paper sizes

Other standard but non architectural paper sizes in North America include loose paper sizes for general use, and the ANSI series beginning with the 8.5×11” base size.

Loose paper sizes are readily available in stores and can often be found in a home or office printer. Letter size paper is the most common, being used for the majority of standard documents from resumes and invitations to bills and bank statements.

It is also known as short bond paper, or regular size typewriting paper. Legal size, also known as long bond paper, has the same width as letter size but is three inches longer to accommodate more text for important contracts and bylaws.

Tabloid and ledger are used for more specific publications requiring the additional space for images and graphics.

North American loose paper sizes

  • Letter: 8.5 x 11” (216 x 279mm)
  • Legal: 8.5 x 14” (216 x 356mm)
  • Tabloid: 11 x 17” (279 x 432mm)
  • Ledger: 17 x 11” (432 x 279mm)

North American ANSI (American National Standards Institute) paper sizes

  • ANSI A: 8.5 x 11” (216 x 279mm)
  • ANSI B: 11 x 17” (279 x 432mm)
  • ANSI C: 17 x 22” (432 x 559mm)
  • ANSI D: 22 x 34” (559 x 864mm)
  • ANSI E: 34 x 44” (864 x 1118mm)
arch paper sizes - Architectural Paper Sizes

Blueprint architectural paper sizes

Blueprint paper is typically larger than standard architectural paper sizes and is used for printing detailed technical drawings and other large format documents.

There is no specific standard for blueprint paper size, and the size of blueprint paper can vary depending on the specific requirements of the document being printed.

One common size for blueprint paper is 30 inches by 42 inches, which is slightly larger than the standard A0 paper size (which measures approximately 33.1 inches by 46.8 inches).

Other sizes of blueprint paper may include 36 inches by 48 inches, 44 inches by 66 inches, or even larger.

In the past, blueprint paper was often printed using a special printing process called blueprinting, which involved exposing a light-sensitive paper to UV light and then developing it with a chemical solution.

Today, blueprints are more commonly printed using large format printers that use ink or toner to produce high-quality prints on a variety of media, including bond paper, vellum, or polyester film.

Regardless of the size or printing method used, blueprint paper is typically used for printing detailed technical drawings, construction plans, and other large format documents that require a high level of accuracy and precision.

What’s the difference between all these architectural paper sizes?

The main differences are the dimensions and aspect ratios, with ARCH series paper holding a ratio of 4:3 or 3:2, and ISO A-series paper maintaining a single aspect ratio of 1:√2.

North American paper also stays in line with imperial measurements, keeping round numbers for its dimensions in inches, while ISO paper is more precisely measured with millimeters.

The physical size of paper printouts will also vary slightly, as manufacturers include a gripping margin to account for the mechanical requirements of printers.

As the paper is fed through, the printer will use these gripping margins to move the paper without interfering with the page content.

For more information and clarification of architectural paper sizes, papersizes.io covers just about any paper size you can think of!

Paper size management

Many projects have unique drawing requirements, and it can be tempting to use paper sizes that fit each project specifically, but it’s important to have consistent paper size management for presentation, printing, storage, and submission.

It’s best to use standard sizes to keep your practice streamlined and compatible. If there is a situation requiring intermediate sizes, ISO B-series paper can be used instead.

Using custom paper sizes may require manual cutting, and it could also cause viewing issues on screen or on site.

It is also worth noting that A0 paper, being over one meter long, can be problematic when trying to roll, carry, or set down. A0 is double the size of the standard A1 blueprint, and although it allows for more content on the sheet, it should only be used when absolutely necessary. 

Physical size plays a large part in ease of use, whether it’s a single sheet or a roll with hundreds of sheets. With the sheer size of A0 paper, a roll can start to get inconveniently heavy as more sheets are added.

Similarly, though, if too many small sheets are being used, it may be more convenient to switch to a larger size to reduce the pages in the sheet set.

In order to avoid these problems, a proper evaluation of the project requirements and drawing needs should be carried out before work commences, and the decision on paper size can save valuable time later on.

Architectural Paper Size

What are the most common architecture paper sizes

The most common architectural paper sizes for architectural documents are ARCH C and ARCH D. A1 is also regularly used around the world for standard size sheets.

For large scale projects, A0, ARCH E, and ARCH E1 are commonly used. These sizes are often used for masterplans, city layouts, or drawings for display. A3 is frequently used for early design documents, preliminary presentations, sketches, and small plans.

Often accompanying the larger architectural sheets are regular sized documents containing things like signed submission forms, quantities and estimates, or supplementary information about the project. These documents are usually on Letter or A4 size paper.

FAQ’s

What is A1 size?

A1 is a paper size that is commonly used for technical drawings, posters, and other large-format documents. In the ISO 216 standard, which is used internationally, the dimensions of an A1 sheet of paper are 841 millimeters by 594 millimeters, or approximately 33.1 inches by 23.4 inches.

A1 paper is part of a series of paper sizes known as the A series, which includes A0, A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, and A6. Each size in the A series is half the size of the previous one, so an A1 sheet is half the size of an A0 sheet, and an A2 sheet is half the size of an A1 sheet, and so on.

The A series is based on a single sheet of paper with an aspect ratio of 1:√2, which allows sheets to be easily scaled up or down while maintaining the same proportions.

In addition to the A series, there are also B series paper sizes, which are based on the same aspect ratio but are slightly smaller than the A series. The B series is often used for envelopes, as the sizes correspond more closely to standard envelope sizes.

What is A2 size?

A2 is a paper size that is part of the ISO 216 standard. It measures approximately 16.5 inches by 23.4 inches, or 42 cm by 59.4 cm. It is often used for printing large format documents such as posters, technical drawings, and other types of graphics.

As mentioned earlier, the dimensions of the A series paper sizes are determined by the ratio between the length and width, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4).

This means that each larger size in the A series is half the size of the previous one, and each smaller size is double the size of the next larger size. For example, A2 is half the size of A1, and A3 is half the size of A2.

What is Arch D paper size?

Arch D is a paper size that is part of the arch paper size standard, which is used in the United States for architectural drawings, blueprints, and other large format documents.

The arch paper size standard is based on the traditional “architect’s pad” size and is designated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Arch D paper has a width of 24 inches and a height of 36 inches. Its dimensions are determined by the ratio between the width and length, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4). This means that the height of each size is approximately equal to the width divided by the square root of 2.

Arch D paper is larger than the other sizes in the arch paper size series, such as Arch A, Arch B, Arch C, and Arch E. It is often used for printing large format documents such as construction plans, technical drawings, and other types of graphics.

It is important to note that arch paper sizes are not part of the ISO 216 standard, which is the international standard for paper sizes. They are specific to the United States and are not widely used in other countries.

What is Arch E size paper?

Arch E is a paper size that is part of the arch paper size standard, which is used in the United States for architectural drawings, blueprints, and other large format documents.

The arch paper size standard is based on the traditional “architect’s pad” size and is designated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Arch E paper has a width of 36 inches and a height of 48 inches. Its dimensions are determined by the ratio between the width and length, which is 1:√2 (approximately 1:1.4).

This means that the height of each size is approximately equal to the width divided by the square root of 2.

Arch E paper is the largest size in the arch paper size series, which also includes sizes such as Arch A, Arch B, Arch C, and Arch D. It is often used for printing large format documents such as construction plans, technical drawings, and other types of graphics.

It is important to note that arch paper sizes are not part of the ISO 216 standard, which is the international standard for paper sizes. They are specific to the United States and are not widely used in other countries.

What is a 30×42 paper size? (Arch E1)

A30x42 paper size is also known as “Arch E1” in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) paper size system.

This size is part of the architectural paper size series, which is used for technical drawings and other documents used in the construction and engineering fields.

The dimensions of Arch E1 size paper are 30 inches by 42 inches, which is slightly larger than the A3 size paper in the ISO 216 system.

The architectural paper size series is based on the principle of maintaining a consistent aspect ratio for each size, so that the same scale can be used for different sizes of drawings.

What is 18×24 paper called? (Arch C)

Arch C is a paper size that is part of the arch paper size standard, which is used in the United States for architectural drawings, blueprints, and other large format documents.

The arch paper size standard is based on the traditional “architect’s pad” size and is designated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Arch C paper is smaller than the other sizes in the arch paper size series, such as Arch D and Arch E, but larger than Arch A and Arch B. It is often used for printing large format documents such as construction plans, technical drawings, and other types of graphics.

It is important to note that arch paper sizes are not part of the ISO 216 standard, which is the international standard for paper sizes. They are specific to the United States and are not widely used in other countries.

What architectural size is 11×17?

In the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) paper size system, an 11×17 paper size is known as “ANSI B” or “Ledger/Tabloid.” This size is part of the ANSI B series, which is used for a variety of purposes, including printing documents, blueprints, and technical drawings.

The dimensions of ANSI B size paper are 11 inches by 17 inches, which is slightly larger than the standard A4 size paper in the ISO 216 system. This size is commonly used for printing documents that need to be larger than standard letter size, but not as large as the ANSI C or D sizes.

It is also sometimes referred to as “ledger” size, as it is a popular choice for printing financial and accounting documents.

What are the 4 standard paper sizes?

The four standard paper sizes are Letter, Legal, Tabloid, and Ledger. They are known as North American loose paper sizes and are widely available on store shelves in the US and Canada. While many countries around the world also use these sizes, the ISO A-series is the official standard for regions outside of North America.

blueprint paper size

What is 18×24 paper called?

18×24” paper is known as ARCH C. It is one of the standard paper sizes in the Arch series for architectural documents. ARCH C is similar to the international A2 size paper, which is 16.5×23.4” or 420x594mm. In millimeters, ARCH C measures 457x610mm.

What is paper weight?

There are various degrees of thickness available for paper depending on your needs. Paper weight is used to express these differences, and there are three systems of measurement around the world.

In the US, the Basis Weight system is used, which indicates the weight of a 500-sheet ream. The Caliper system is the second form of measurement, which uses the actual thickness of a single sheet of paper in thousandths of an inch.

The international metric system uses GSM measurement, or grams per square meter. GSM gives you the mass per unit of area, meaning the greater the GSM, the thicker and heavier the paper.

Summary

Architects create designs for buildings and spaces, but the bulk of the work is first expressed on paper. From the mind to the paper, to the site and then construction, paper continues to play an integral role in the daily lives of architects.

It’s important for members of the industry to be familiar with the different sizes to create an efficient workflow aligned with other architects and allied professionals.

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