DIN A vs US LETTER - Paper sizing quickly explained
You probably stumbled across our different frame ratio options and you might have wondered: "What is this ISO DIN size or ratio and what does that mean?" Hold on, we got you covered.
Creating artwork, print illustrations and layouts designs is one of the most common parts of being a graphic designer. While we are free in creativity there are some technical standards we can rely on for easier communication: Measurement Standards.
Print shops and artists who sell their paintings or illustrations as prints internationally need to know the different ratios and sizes.
Especially the difference between the US standards and the most common ISO 216 international standard that's based on the German DIN can sometimes cause confusion if you're not used to it.
For this reason we offer you this handy but very long image to get a better understanding.
Why do I need to care?
If you're selling your artwork digitally as printable files your customer will most likely print the designs. The ratios are not only important for general understanding and orientation between you as a seller and the receiver but the printer your customer uses will probably have the countries standard ratios implemented. Same comes to frame sizes.
Since the USA is using the US sizes and measure with inch, there is much room for confusion when comparing the DIN sizes which are measured in cm / mm. I also heard from our US customer that they bought an envelope box in A5 in the US but measuring it, we realized the size wasn’t A5 at all.
Quick DIN size guide
So now knowing DIN sizes and US sizes are important, we can take a closer look.
DIN A sizes are always the half or the double of the following sized paper. If you fold a DIN A 4 paper into half you’ll get a DIN A 5 paper. The half of a A5 is A6 and so on.
DIN A 0
DIN A 0 is the biggest format of the DIN series. You’ll use it for painting, commercial poster and as printing paper in printing houses.
DIN A 1
DIN A 1 is the half of DIN A 0. You use it mostly for wall calendars, flipcharts or for painting. In my design studies we all used A0 and A1 artist paper and carried it around in huge and really annoying black folders. Maybe you’ve seen people with these kind of cases. They are mostly architects, designers or art students.
DIN A 2
DIN A 2 is something like a in-between size. It’s not so crazy big like A1 and A0 so you can handle it better it it’s still to big to carry around for too long. You can still use it like A1 for designs. Among this you’ll receive gift wrapping sheets in A2.
DIN A 3
DIN A3 is probably the very first size you will learn in preschool, because this is the paper size every small child will use for their art class. So at the beginning of school your parents probably bought you an artist folder in this size.
DIN A 4
A4 is the mostly used and known size. Forms, paper for your printer at home, every kind of letters, college books or magazines. This is the most common size you’ll get to see on a daily basis.
DIN A 5
For a long time A4 was the common size for magazines like GLAMOUR or JOY. But as time went by the printing houses and publishers realized, women don’t want to carry huge magazines with them. This was the beginning of the more handy magazines. A5 is also a size for small books, planners or flyers. This is also the beginning size for wedding papers.
DIN A 6
A 6 is right before the business card size the smallest size you work on, since everything else is quiet too small to function beside business cards, name cards, number cards or labels. You’ll find some small planners in this size for your handbag or dictionaries for travel.
Since DIN is a ratio like ISO we not only have DIN A but also DIN B, C and D. B and C is often used for envelopes, B is also used for books.