Traditional Paper Sizes

Before the sizes we know well today such as the A & B size formats were introduced, paper was made in a range of named sizes some of which are still commonly used today such as Imperial or Elephant. 

Here is a list of some of the paper sizes used in traditional paper making. 


51 x 55 in

787 x 1346 mm


One of the largest drawing papers made by hand in Europe, its size has varied over time between 36 x 54 and 29 x 52 in. It was first made in England, in Kent, by James Whatman in 1773: the moulds for these huge sheets were hoisted on a lifting device called "The Contrivance", with six to eight men required in the dipping and couching processes.




26 x 34 in

660 x 864 mm

Extra Large Atlas 

27 x 35 in

686 x 889 mm


A large size of drawing paper, originally developed for the printing of maps and atlases from engraved plates




21 x 26 in

534 x 661 mm


Traditionally a size for wrapping and drawing papers. Originally derived from the Italian cartoccio, paper (carta) for wrapping up a charge of powder.




24 x 34 1/4 in

597 x 876 mm


This size was standard in England, although foreign equivalents vary. It was popular with American papermakers in Pennsylvania. The original watermark of a dovecote, after which it was named, was a play on the name of the Auvergnat papermaer Colombier.




15 x 20 in

381 x 508 mm

Double Crown

20 x 30 in

508 x 762 mm

Quad Crown

30 x 40 in

762 x 1016 mm


A printmaking size which has varied historically. The name, from the French demi, indicates that it was originally derived by folding a large sheet in half (possibly a Colombier drawing paper, or an Imperial writing paper). Demy traditionally carried the fleur-de-lys within a shield watermark.




28 1/4 x 42 in

730 x 1067 mm


An old standard size of drawing paper known as early as 1300, which took its name from a watermark of an eagle.




20 x 27 in

508 x 686 mm

Double Elephant

27 x 40 in

686 x 1016 mm


A sheet also name after its watermark. Double Elephant is also called Grand Eagle. The variations are still particularly wide in the largest sheet of this size.




48 x 72 in

1219 x 1829 mm


This name has been used for a size of notepaper but more commonly refers to a writing or drawing size. In the US it often means 40 x 60 in (1016 x 1520 mm)




13 1/2 x 17 in

343 x 432 mm

Double Foolscap

17 x 27 in

432 x 686 mm

Quad Foolscap

27 x 34 in

686 x 864 mm


A size for writing drawing and printing which could vary by 2 or 3 inches from the standard given above. The name comes from the watermark of a jester's head (with the cap and bells), introduced to Britain in the mid-16th century; this was replaced in the 18th century by the Britannia watermark. 




16 x 22 in

406 x 559 mm

Royal Hand

20 x 25 in

508 x 635 mm


The name derives from the watermark, traditionally a hand or glove, dating back to the 16th century.




22 x 30 in

559 x 762 mm

Large Imperial 

22 x 32 in

559 x 813mm

Half Imperial

15 x 22 in

381 x 559 mm

Double Imperial

30 x 44 in

762 x 1118 mm


A popular size traditionally for writing and printing papers, in common use today. 




18 x 23 in

457 x 584 mm

Double Medium

23 x 36 in

584 x 914 mm

Quad Medium

36 x 46 in

914 x 1168 mm


This size occasionally today watermarked with the traditional fleur-de-lys




15 x 19 in

387 x 489 mm

Large Post 

16 1/2 x 21 in

419 x 533 mm

Double Post

21 x 33 in

533 x 838 mm


The name derives from the watermark of a post horn, first used in the 14th century




12 x 15 1/2 in

317 x 394 mm


This is the smallest handmade size, used for writing and drawing papers. The earliest Pott watermark illustrates a pot or chalice divided into compartments for holding food and drink. Foreign equivalents vary.




20 x 25 in

508 x 635 mm

Super Royal

20 x 28 in

508 x 711 mm

Double Royal

25 x 40 in

635 x 1016 mm

Quad Royal

40 x 50 in

1016 x 1270 mm


A size for drawing, writing and wrapping, formerly watemarked with an ornamental shield surmounted by a fleur-de-lys.