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Jun 11, 2010



The world of university is long behind me, but I expect it's still standard for student's to hand in A4 hard copies of their pojects and essays - impractical for A5. So there's one reason. But I'm sure teachers will soon take to the the iPhone 4 and iPad like a dream!


A4 is efficient - it means you can print out two grouchy A5 signs in one go!


You can cut A4 down to A5, but you can't grow two A5s into one A4...

Paul H. Colman

Even you're back on form now.

Alexander Charchar

You beat me to it David!

I'd imagine there are a lot more assignments being printed than, say, addresses..

As for signs, I guess an A4 page is easier to see than an A5 one in an office environment.. not to mention that it's a lot harder to find A5 paper than it is A4 and even harder to find a plastic-slip folder that can take A5 pages.

And a lot of documents are still being printed (ie. brochures, annual reports) at A4 just because of economy -- again, rip a page out, into a slip folder it goes, photocopy it to A4 because everything is A4 anyway.

It's a good point, though it might be one of those things that is just 'one of those things', you know?

besides, there's only so much 72pt times new roman, papyrus or comic sans you can fit on an A5 ;)

I'm more confused by the continual existence of Letter sizes

Wu Yong

I guess you'd feel a bit insignificant if you walked into a meeting room with bunch of A5 sheets?

On the other hand, whenever I forget my notebook I find myself folding a sheet of A4 into A5. A4 size is useless for any handwritten text... It's like trying to read a broadsheet in economy class.

Dominic Cronin

Some people still use printers to print documents instead of signs.

Personally, I print out those A4 reports two-pages-to-a-sheet, so your point is well taken, however the A5 printer would need to be twice as fast.

Andy Rudkin

What a complete waste of a blog post.

Some people have way too much time on their hands.


Andy - This blog is about exactly this kind of stuff, so not a wasteful post at all. And rest assured I do not have too much time on my hands.

Everyone else - What I mean is that A5 paper and printers should be much more common making it simple to print lots of things that need less that A4. Of course we'd still need A4 for certain things.


But an A4 printer can print A5!? 2up if you want.
I'm with Andy on this one.

The blog should have been about people / non-designers accepting the norm without asking why / how / what… An A4 printer is able to print A5, with bleed, trim marks, annotations, and even some room for a breakout or two - perhaps a starburst to really catch attention ;-) The limiting factor is the brain not the media in this situation.

Wu Yong

Yeah, but most people would use MS Word for printing their stuff out anyway. You can't be too creative with that, unless you're some kind of lo-fi layouting guru who refuses to use InDesign. The limitations of the available technology make people stupid. 12p Times New Roman on A4 is the default, that's why you see so much crap in that format...

PS Just had an nasty wargument with my girlfriend about standard paper sizes, it's clearly an important topic.

Steve Leard

If A4 still is still needed for certain things, but people only had A5 printers they wouldn't be able to print A4.

People can print A5 on a regular printer, they just choose not to. I think the amount of wasted paper that is printed is more of an issue (especially from design agencies)


Me? I'm worried about all that bluetack.


Hey Ben, I just came across this blog accidentally and I know it is ages since you wrote it, what a good observation, I've never thought about that, we only use A4 because that's what we're all used to and if packs of A5 paper were as available in the shops as A4 (I've never come across a shop that sells a big pack of A5 paper)more people would use it. As for Andy's comment, nobody caring about these sorts of things is what affects our environment, half the size of paper means half the amount of trees cut down :)


Well, technically you can get A5 printers. Every A4 printer can print to A5, and there's little more engineering required to design a printer to for A4 over A5. Infact, it gives the designers more space to work with when designing an A4 over and A5 printer, so why not?

In a nutshell, every A4 printer can print A5, so you can print on A5 till the cows come home if you wish. It also allows you to print A4 when required, that in my case is 95% of the time - A5 wouldn't do. You can go from A4 to A5, but not vice versus.

So, why should we not have A4? You make a convincing argument for using A5 on occations, but have you any real reasons to get rid of A4 in mainstream uses? The examples you cite can work with A5, but I'd hazard a guess that the majority of A4 use is in situations where A4 is actually be the best paper format to use.

Chino Bonito

I disagree with the statement that using A5 sized paper would save the environment and decrease the amount of trees used for making papers.

For example, if you had to print a text that takes up 10 full pages of A4, then using A5, which is half the size of A4. You'll be printing 20 pages of A5, therefore, you wouldn't have saved the trees a bit. You would still have used the same amount of paper, whether you print on A4 or A5.

To save the trees one can instead choose not to print out on papers, if it's not really necessary. Or use a smaller font when printing, but then it might be hard to read.

I attend to a university in Sweden and students are mostly still using A4, not just because it's a standard size for turning in assignments, most assignments are turned in electronically nowadays anyway. But that A4 is a good size to take notes on and doing certain things. For example when doing processmodeling, math etc. I suppose it's about which major one's taking though, I study engineering and I feel that A4 is the perfect size for me to take notes on.

For a history or literature major, A5 will probably work just fine.

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