Foolscap Size & Dimensions for Old British Imperial Paper Sizes

Have you ever heard about Imperial Paper Sizes? Papers have been in use for centuries, but as we have earlier discussed, the International Standardization of Paper Sizes happened only 20-30 years ago. Before this International Standardization arrived, different countries used different Paper Size Standards within themselves according to their own needs. And these Standards too were pretty good, but the International Standardization was done to unify the countries and create one Standard that would be followed everywhere regardless of the place, time and culture in the country.

The UK and the neighbouring countries are the ones that put forward this idea of a Universal Standard for everything known as Metrication. Metrication was handled by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

Although, even after the ISO Standards were introduced, some regions in these countries locally continue to use their earlier Standards for their general purposes and it, of course, does no harm. Hence, it can be helpful to know the more previous Standards of some countries that are important to the world trade and business perspective. Therefore, today, we’re going to talk about British Imperial Paper Sizes used in the UK and other neighbouring countries. These are also the sizes that inspired the ISO 216 A Series Paper Sizes.

About British Imperial Paper Sizes

There are some Imperial Paper Sizes which were so widely used that it took longer for the change to Metric Standards to occur. One of such sizes was the Foolscap Folio Size which remained in office use even after Metrication and was often wrongly referred to as the A4 Size. Today, Foolscap Folio Paper Size cannot be obtained from commercial office paper suppliers, but it can still be obtained from some specialist paper manufacturers like James Cropper plc and others.

Cut Writing Paper Sizes

The cut sizes are the ones that were actually used for writing and business purposes; were also the sizes of the books and paper after printing and trimming were done. These are the paper sizes that people see. The names of the sizes were as follows: Albert, Duchess, Duke, Foolscap Quarto, Foolscap Folio, Small Post Octavo, Small Post Quarto, Large Post Quarto, Large Post Octavo.

SizeWidth x Height (in)Width x Height (mm)Aspect Ratio
Albert4.0 x 6.0 in101.6 x 152.4 mm1:1.5
Duchess4.5 x 6.0 in114.3 x 152.4 mm1:1.3333
Duke5.5 x 7.0 in139.7 x 177.8 mm1:1.2727
Foolscap Quarto6.5 x 8.0 in152.4 x 203.2 mm1:1.2308
Foolscap Folio8.0 x 13.0 in203.2 x 330.2 mm1:1.625
Small Post Octavo4.5 x 7.0 in114.3 x 177.8 mm1:1.5556
Small Post Quarto7.0 x 9.0 in177.8 x 228.6 mm1:1.2857
Large Post Octavo5.0 x 8.0 in127.0 x 203.2 mm1:1.6
Large Post Quarto8.0 x 10.0 in203.2 x 254.0 mm1:1.25

From Albert to Foolscap Folio, one finds the sizes in increasing order of dimensions with Albert (4.0 in × 6.0 in or 101.6 mm × 152.4 mm) being the smallest and Foolscap Folio (8.0 in × 13.0 in or 203.2 mm × 330.2 mm) being the largest. The other four sizes when placed in the increasing order of dimensions; Small Post Octavo (4.5 in × 7.0 in or 114.3 mm × 177.8 mm) is the smallest while Large Post Quarto (8.0 in × 10.0 in or 203.2 mm × 254.0 mm) is the largest. The aspect ratios of all the paper sizes are different; they vary between 1:1.23 and 1:1.625 which are quite close to the 1:√2 (1:1.414) aspect ratio.

So, it’s clearly visible from the above table that the aspect ratios of the imperial paper sizes are not constant according to ISO A and B series papers. You can find more detailed information about the difference between Foolscap and A4, Letter and legal paper sizes in our guide.

Meaning of Folio, Quarto and Octavo Paper Sizes

Folio, Quarto, and Octavo are terms that are used to refer to the number of folds; that is made when the uncut paper is folded after printing to bind into books; hence generally used for book printing. These terms individually do not refer to paper sizes, but when used in conjugation with other Size names; are very helpful in stating standard or related sizes to that size.

NameAlso CalledFoldsSheetsPagesAbbreviations
Folio-124fo, f
SextoSixmo36126to, 6mo

For a sheet of printed paper, Folio means folding once giving rise to two leaves (4 pages) of a book; Quarto means folding twice giving rise to four leaves (8 pages) of a book; Octavo means folding thrice giving rise to four leaves (16 pages) of a book. As some of these Folio, Quarto and Octavo Sizes were extremely convenient to set as Paper Sizes; they were available as loose cut paper (e.g., Foolscap Folio).

Uncut Writing Paper Sizes

The Uncut Imperial Paper Sizes are generally used for printing and related purposes and not for common use. The Size names are as follows: Pott, Double Pott, Foolscap, Double Foolscap, Foolscap and Third, Foolscap and Half, Pinched Post, Post, Double Post, Large Post, Double Large Post, Copy, and Medium.

SizeWidth x Height (in)Width x Height (mm)Aspect Ratio
Pott12.5 x 15.0 in317.5 x 381.0 mm1:1.2
Double Pott15.0 x 25.0 in381.0 x 635.0 mm1:1.6667
Foolscap13.25 x 16.5 in336.6 x 419.1 mm1:1.2453
Double Foolscap16.5 x 26.5 in419.1 x 673.1 mm1:1.6061
Foolscap and Third13.25 x 22.0 in336.6 x 558.8 mm1:1.6604
Foolscap and Half13.25 x 24.75 in336.6 x 628.7 mm1:1.8679
Pinched Post14.5 x 18.5 in368.3 x 469.9 mm1:1.2759
Post15.25 x 19.0 in387.4 x 482.6 mm1:1.2459
Double Post19.0 x 30.5 in482.6 x 774.7 mm1:1.6053
Large Post16.5 x 20.75 in419.1 x 527.1 mm1:1.2576
Double Large Post20.75 x 33.0 in527.1 x 838.2 mm1:1.5904
Copy16.25 x 20.0 in412.8 x 508.0 mm1:1.2308
Medium18.0 x 20.5 in457.2 x 520.7 mm1:1.1389

The smallest size out of these is the Pott at 12.5 in × 15.0 in or 317.5 mm × 381.0 mm while the largest size is the Double Large Post at 20.75 in × 33.0 in or 527.1 mm × 838.2 mm. The aspect ratios vary between 1:1.2 and 1:1.87. The size of Foolscap Paper is 13.25 in × 16.5 in or 336.6 mm × 419.1 mm; this is later cut into the smaller Foolscap Folio Size which was the most widely used size.

See Also: –

Final Words

This is all the information that we had about Imperial Paper Sizes. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. Go over our other articles if you liked this one and found it useful.

About the Author: Alan Lee

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