Happy centenary to the A4 paper standard!

Den building
Forest activities: How to build the perfect den
August 29, 2022
Positive mindset
Summer is over: How to return to work with a positive mindset
September 5, 2022

Did you know that the A-series of standard paper sizes has an ISO standard against it? First registered under the German DIN standard system, the standard for paper sizes celebrated its centenary this year – on August 18, 2022.

You won’t be surprised to know that the most popular size of paper within the relevant ISO standard is A4. The A4 paper size is ubiquitous – it’s used for everything from school notebooks, to art paper to office printer paper.

The A4 standard is used around the world. There are a few other standard paper sizes in place, notably in the US, where the letter-size paper is the equivalent of A4.

Read on to discover why its dimensions are nowhere near as clever…

German engineering – for paper sizes!

The idea for the A-series of paper sizing was originally devised by the German scientist Georg Chistoph Lichtenberg in 1786.

It wasn’t made into a standard until 1922. That’s when another brilliant German innovator, Dr Walter Porstmann registered Lichtenberg’s idea for standard paper sizes with the Normenausschuss der deutschen Industrie (NADI) – or the Standards Association of German Industry.

In case you were wondering why you haven’t heard of NADI standards, NADI has changed its name twice since then – once in 1926 and, most recently, in 1975. It’s now known as Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) – or the German Institute for Standardization.

DIN celebrated its own 100th birthday in 2017.

The A-series of standard paper sizes first registered by Porstmann is DIN 476 Paper Formats. Its International Standards Organization equivalent is ISO 216.

All around the world: the amazing dimensions of A4

You’ll probably be familiar with one of the most functional aspects behind the dimensions of the A-series of standard paper sizes.

The shortest side of a sheet of A-series paper is the same length as the longest size of the next paper size down. This means that the area of an A0 paper is exactly twice that of an A1 page. And an A1 page is twice that of an A2 page. An A3 page is half again. And an A4 page is half of an A3. And so on…

That’s why, when you fold an A4 page in half, you are left with a folded piece of paper that is exactly the same size as a page of A5.

This is important because it makes the paper perfect for holding proportions – no matter the size at which you are working or printing. If you don’t have a printer big enough to print an A3 drawing, for example, it will scale perfectly to an A4 page. This way, you can scale your work up and down easily while always knowing it will fit optimally on your paper.

However, perhaps you might be less familiar with another amazing facet of the A-series paper standard… did you know that the A0 size has the surface area of exactly a metre? And, since the metre is based on a fraction of the circumference of the Earth, there’s a direct correlation between the paper standard and the Earth on which we live!

Amazing, right?

It’s just another reason to celebrate the centenary of this amazing invention – which has made printing, binding, and working easier all over the world since its registration one hundred years ago.

A4 at The Navigator Company

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Navigator Paper brand, with its contributions to the A4 format becoming an integral part of the company’s history.

Navigator Paper was launched in 1992 in A4 format and 80 g weight. Over the last three decades, the brand has established itself as a global leader in the premium printing and writing professions. It now has 14 references, with the A4 formats being the biggest sellers in the majority of the more than 130 countries where it is promoted directly. 

The Discovery brand was introduced in Europe in 1995, with the first 75 g A4 paper. This new product made an immediate impression, propelling the brand to European leadership in lower-weight paper products. Placement that was reinforced in 2003 with the reference of 70 g.

In the office paper category, The Navigator Company’s Pioneer, Target, MultiOffice, and Explorer brands have had similar success, accounting for around 35% of The Navigator Company’s paper produced today in A4 format.

The Navigator’s annual sales allow to:

  • Cover the distance of three straight trips to and from the moon with paper sheets;
  • Cover a 20-meter-wide highway 24 times around the world;
  • Produce a 150-page book for each person on the planet;
  • Build a 33,000 km-high stack of A4 sheets.

Want more amazing facts about paper?

Read some of our other articles: