The Typographic Hub

British standard paper & board sizes

2nd October 2012

Papers used by the printer have always been of many qualities and varying sizes

Papers used by the printer have always been of many qualities and varying sizes. Before the ISO paper sizes took over in the 1950s, Britain had its own standardization of paper sizes that were arguably more attractive than the metric dimensions. In 1926, the British Federation of Master Printers, with the co-operation of the paper and board manufacturers and other interested bodies, attempted to introduce a form of standardization with regard to paper sizes. The printing, publishing and papermaking trades were slow to adopt these standards, and it was not until 1937 that the British Standards Institution published the generally agreed series of standard sizes for Writing, Printing, Wrapping and Casing papers and Trimmed Boards. The following list gives the more generally used papers [writings and printings] and boards and is compiled from the British Standards that eventually became universally adopted. They had romantic names, but impossible to remember dimensions. Papers for Writings and Printings [untrimmed] were called: Small Foolscap; Foolscap; Post; Small Demy; Large Post; Demy; Medium; Small Royal; Royal; Large Royal; Double Crown; Imperial; and Double Elephant. Boards [untrimmed] were called: Royal; Postal; Imperial; Large Imperial; and Index. All double and quadruple sizes were exact multiples of the standard sizes. Cover papers were, however, generally slightly larger than the designation given to them.