Different Sizes of Copy Paper

By Selena Templeton

Copy paper, also known as printer, dual-purpose, multi-purpose or laser paper, is the standard paper used in copiers, printers and fax machines. Technically, laser paper is for laser printers and copy paper is used for copy machines, but most paper these days is multi-purpose, able to be used in any machine, though for best results you should heed specific paper type. Regardless of type of paper, they all come in standard sizes for different uses.

8 ½" x 11" (Letter)

8 ½" x 11" paper, known commonly as letter-sized paper, is the default size for all copiers, printers and fax machines. It is sold in all stationery and office supply stores, as well as many pharmacies and supermarkets, in reams (quantities) of 500 sheets. Letter-sized paper is used for most documents, including letters, fax cover sheets, office memos and newsletters. This size is also handy for preparing brochures or pamphlets or other documents that are folded into thirds.

8 ½" X14" (Legal)

8 ½" X14" is the second most common size of paper, known as legal-sized. Standard copiers, printers and fax machines include a separate paper tray for this sized paper. Since this is not the default size, you must select it in the print options on your computer when you are ready to print. It is the same width as letter-sized paper but 3 inches longer for printing, as the name connotes, legal documents such as contracts and affidavits. This paper size can also be used for printing brochures, take-out menus or other documents that are folded into thirds; it looks the same as a letter-sized, tri-folded document except that it is a bit wider.

11" X 17" (Tabloid)

The third most common size of paper is 11" X 17", sometimes known as tabloid size. This size is used for printing newspaper pages, posters or graphics such as blueprints or maps when the type size would be too small to see clearly on a smaller sized sheet of paper. Many modern printers or copy machines have a third tray set up for this paper size, or at the very least, the tray for legal-sized paper is adjustable for larger sizes.

Non-standard sizes

Far less common sizes of paper include 11.7" X 17.7", for “tabloid bleed applications” when the image of a tabloid-sized document goes right to the edge of the page, and 12" X 18" and 13" X 19" for larger documents, including blueprints or highly detailed brochures or posters.