Most artists understand the size and shape of their canvas before they start. Graphic design allows a lot of flexibility. With a few clicks, I can make the canvas any size.

To make a smart design choice, decide first how the project will be disseminated. Is the project going to stay digital, printed or is it a combination of the two?  Screens and paper have different aspect ratios. Although you can make collateral functional across platforms; if the piece only has one use, design it for that specific use.

As you can imagine, each country has their own common paper sizes. Today, we are going to look at the common paper sizes in the US. The three standard paper series in the US include:

  • Common loose paper sizes
  • ARCH (architectural) paper series
  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute) paper series

Common Loose Paper Sizes

Loose Paper Sizes_TableThese are the paper sizes we regularly encounter. Most home printers can accommodate a letter or legal size paper. Tabloid is nice for making booklets or magazines because its half-size is 8.5 x 11.

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Paper Series

This paper series, like the international paper sizes, is based on halves. Each page is half the size of the last. This gives us alternating ratios. If you need to change the size of a finished product and want to keep the same ratio for scaling ease, go down 2 paper sizes.ANSIARCH Paper Series

This size series was made for architectural blueprints. These sizes are also used for our poster sizes. I like this series because the ratios are whole numbers. However, just as the ANSI, the aspect ratios alternate.ARCHWith a little foresight and planning, this knowledge can help you choose the right canvas size for your project that is also cost effective for your project.

Check out An Introduction to Paper and learn about paper’s other characteristics.






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