Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

When it comes to shopping for exceptional writing tools, paper is often overlooked. Flashy pens with gold nibs and colorful, sparkly inks tend to steal the spotlight. Yet, paper is the foundation for you to build your creative work upon. It has to accommodate your work habits, space, and tools. That is why, much like the various sizes and shapes of pens, paper comes in many sizes.

In this article, we hope to help you decide which notebook paper size will be a perfect fit for your creative pursuits.

As you can see from the photo, selecting a paper size can be like Goldilocks visiting the three bears. Out of all these options, there's a size that feels "just right" for your writing. Unlike the relative definitions of fountain pen nib sizes, notebook sizes are standardized and conform to specified, internationally-recognized measurements.

U.S. Paper Sizes vs. International Sizes (ISO Standard)

Also known as ANSI A, "letter" is the most common loose paper size in North America. In the USA, most business and academic documents are printed on letter paper. Legal paper is 3 inches longer than letter size and is often used in the writing of contracts, accounting, and legal documents. Ledger/Tabloid size (ANSI B) is larger yet and is commonly used to make tabloid magazines or smaller-sized newspapers.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

How the A series works

Adopted in Europe in the 19th Century, A-series paper is the most common size used in English-speaking countries around the world. Its sizing is based on the international paper standard ISO 216 with an aspect ratio of the square root of two. This means you can take the next largest size A series paper, fold it in half, and get the next size smaller. For example, an A4 sheet of paper can be folded in half to make an A5 size booklet.

How the B series works

B series paper sizes are less common with some special applications. B7 is equal to the passport size ID-3. B5 is also a common choice for books. The sizing of B-series sheets is calculated from the geometric mean of the A-series. For example, a B5 sheet is sized between an A4 and A5 sheet.

As you can see from the graphic of stacked notebooks above, the B-sized notebooks are arranged in between the A-sized pads to provide a smoother transition from largest to smallest. Having both A and B-sized papers allow for a fine-tuned selection based on your creative intentions and work habits.

Notebook sizes and their uses

While there isn't a standard notebook size, there are a few paper sizes that stand out from the rest as the most common in the market today.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

B7 Notebook Size

88mm x 125mm (3.5 inches x 4.9 inches)

The B7 is also known as the "passport" size and is intended for carrying around in a shirt or pants pocket. Ideal for making lists and quickly recording observations in shorthand. You can also track habits or keep logs of information. For example, a B7 notebook might be handy to stash in the glove compartment of your car to log mileage between fill-ups and maintenance information.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

Pocket Notebook Size*

*90mm x 140mm (3.5 inches x 5.5 inches) - varies

Made popular by the Field Notes Brand of memo notebooks, the "Pocket Notebook" does not ascribe to the American or International Sizing Standards. Yet, many paper manufacturers produce notebooks in this size to satisfy the demand for a compact notebook that has a bit more real estate than a passport.

Although it will be too big for a dress shirt pocket, the "Pocket" size is a comfortable fit for suit jacket pockets and pants pockets. You can use the pocket for on-the-go listmaking and record-keeping just like the B7. In addition, the bigger paper area is more accomodating of sketching ideas and outlining.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

A6 Notebook Size

105mm x 148mm (4.13 inches x 5.83 inches)

The A6 size is suitable as an everyday carry journal. It is still pocket-worthy with enough space to plan your day. Take meeting notes, write down the day's to-do list, and keep track of your appointments in one handy, to-go notebook.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

B6 Notebook Size

125mm x 176mm (4.9 inches x 6.9 inches)

The B6 size notebook is the largest of what most would consider pocket-friendly. If you are looking to stash it into your pants pocket, you may want to consider the thickness of the notebook and opt for a slim profile. A notebook like the Itoya Profolio Oasis Summit has a thick volume of 252 pages and would stretch the limits of your jeans pocket.

The B6 notebook feels like a paperback novel in hand. It has ample space to keep a Bullet Journal, record class notes, manage a multi-step project, sketch designs, write daily quotes, and capture inspiring thoughts.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

A5 Notebook Size

145mm x 210mm (5.70 inches x 8.26 inches)

The most popular journal size offered on the Goldspot website, the A5 provides plenty of space for creativity without being larger than an average iPad. The size is incredibly versatile for journaling, planning, organizing, habit tracking, short stories, drawings, and more. When the idea of Bullet Journaling became popular, the Leuchtturm1917 A5 dotted notebook was often referenced as the ideal format.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

B5 Notebook Size

190mm x 250mm (7.48 inches x 9.84 inches)

Sometimes referred to as the composition notebook, the B5 has lots of space for planning, illustrations, vision boards, and scrapbooking. And yes, you could use it for essays, themes, and other classroom writing assignments. In case you are curious, the blue exam book that haunts many students' dreams measures 7" x 8.5", which is like taking a sheet of legal-sized paper and folding it in half.

Notebook Sizes Compared and Explained

A4 Notebook Size

210mm x 297mm (8.26 inches x 11.7 inches)

The A4 paper is closest to the American letter size. In place of a letter or legal pad, an A4 size pad is a suitable alternative if you prefer high-quality European or Japanese paper. Use the A4 size to write letters, manuscripts, drafts of blog posts, and other long-form content. For the visual artist, the A4 offers plenty of area for sketching ideas and executing fully-rendered drawings that you can place in a standard 8" x 10" picture frame.

While we have suggested several uses for each notebook size, we encourage you to be creative and know that these are not hard-and-fast rules. If you enjoy writing a novel in pocket-sized A6 notebooks, by all means, do it. If it fits your workflow perfectly, no one can argue.

For reference, here are all the paper size dimensions for the most common A-series, B-series, and North American conventions.

Notebook Paper Size Dimensions in MM Dimensions in Inches

B7

88mm x 125mm

3.5" x 4.9"

A6

105mm x 148mm

4.13" x 5.83"

B6

125mm x 176mm

4.9" x 6.9"

A5

145mm x 210mm

5.7" x 8.26"

B5

190mm x 250mm

7.48" x 9.84"

A4

210mm x 297mm

8.3" x 11.7"

Letter

216mm x 279mm

8.5" x 11"

Legal

216mm x 356mm

8.5" x 14"

Tabloid / Ledger

432mm x 279mm

11" x 17"

Rhodia has one of the largest selections of paper pad sizes to accommodate the modern creative individual. Although several of their pads correspond with the A-series paper sizes, many do not. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to find all the various Rhodia notepad sizes so you may select the format that works best for you.

Rhodia No. Dimensions in MM Dimensions in Inches Ruling Available

8

74mm x 210mm

3" x 8 1/4"

Graph, Lined

10

52mm x 75mm

2" x 3"

Graph, Lined

11 (A7 Size)

74mm x 105mm

3" x 4"

Graph, Lined

12

85mm x 120mm

3 3/8" x 4 3/4"

Graph, Lined, Dot Grid

13 (A6 Size)

105mm x 148mm

4" x 6"

Graph, Lined

14

110mm x 170mm

4 3/8" x 6 3/8"

Graph, Lined

16 (A5 Size)

148mm x 210mm

6" x 8 1/4"

Graph, Lined, Dot Grid, Blank

18 (A4 Size)

210mm x 297mm

8 1/4" x 11 3/4"

Graph, Lined, Blank, Dot Grid

Ultimately, no one expects to find the one greatest notebook size, regardless of how much research one might delve into beforehand. It's a trial and error process that involves trying out one particular size, living in it for a stretch of time, and seeing how it works with your flow. If the size doesn't fit your creative habits (i.e. it's too big to carry in your pants pocket, too small for your large, loopy handwriting, or too cumbersome to carry in your bag. Thankfully, there are so many options available. If one size doesn't work, you can try a larger/smaller size to better suit your needs.

Also, who expects to only use one notebook all day long? Try purchasing an assortment of sizes - let's say an A7 passport, a B5, and an A4 - and set them to use for specific tasks. You could carry the A7 around with you during walks and commuting. The B5 could be at your work desk to plan your day. The A4 could be for drawing, calligraphy practice, and other artistic pursuits.

However you decide to use your notebooks, we hope that this guide will help you find the size that fits comfortably and allows you to be more creative and productive than ever before.

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