Making sense of size

We’ve had some interesting orders recently, where there’ve been queries about size and dimensions. And we know that it can be really confusing because what works easily in the digital world doesn’t always translate well to print. So we thought we’d provide a little more info on how to work out what you need, so we can get it right for you!

Designed Flyers

Size makes a difference

It just does, ok. Although there are standard sizes in printing, nobody is held to them… you just have to understand how it affects the process. So for example, if your artwork is square, it’s not going to print well on a rectangular piece of A4 without the need for trimming or leaving borders. Which leads on to talking about aspect ratio.

Considering aspect ratio

Put simply, aspect ratio is the relationship between width and height. Widescreen TVs, for example, will display film very differently to a normal TV.

When you take a photo, your camera will be creating an image to a standard aspect ratio – though you may have choice of a set of standard ratios to use. However, if the next step for your fabulous photo is to use it as the background for a poster, there are two aspect ratios you need to consider.

  • The aspect ratio of the photograph
  • The aspect ratio of the paper you’re using to print

Now, a designer will know how to work the image ratio within the design so that it will work for print, but if you’re not using a designer, this is something you need to be aware of. Otherwise you’ll end up with uneven white borders or a cropped image that looks odd.

FYI, common photo printing aspect ratios include 2:3 or 3:2 – e.g. posters, canvasses, and photos (think 6×4 inch snaps), and 4:5 – e.g. larger photos (8×10 inch pics),

Common paper sizes

However with all that said, it also helps to think in terms of common paper sizes. You’ll be familiar with A3, A4, and A5, no doubt (they have an aspect atio of 1:1.4142). But the list is actually far more extensive than that, and the actual measurements are very particular!

Size Guide

Paper Size Width x Height (mm)
A0 841mm X 1189mm
A1 594mm X 841mm
A2 420mm X 594mm
A3 297mm X 420mm
A4 210mm X 297mm
A5 148mm X 210mm
A6 105mm X 148mm
A7 74mm   X 105mm
A8 52mm   X 74mm

Of course, there is B sized paper, which sort of sits in the half sizes e.g. between A4 and A3 etc. And there is C sizing (which sort of sits in the half sizes between B4 and B3 etc.), which is a common sizing for envelopes and enables envelopes to accommodate A sizes well.

So, with all that said, it’s easy to understand why people get confused about design and print when it comes to size. There are assumptions that there are standard sizes for things like signs… but there aren’t; which is great because it means you can have what you want… BUT… it does mean you need to know what you want!

What we’d recommend, therefore, is that you give us a ring before you start. We are always delighted to have the opportunity to give some guidance and advice on how to approach a print project. And if you get it right at this stage, we promise you… it will make it much easier for us to produce the outstanding results you’re looking for!