Difference between A4 and Legal Paper Size

Key difference: Many paper size standards conventions have existed at different times and in different countries. The A4 size papers are accepted worldwide , except in the US, while the legal sized paper is officially accepted in countries like USA and Canada.

The ISO A series is the most frequently used page measurement standard. It includes the DIN A4 format. The paper sizes were based on the single aspect ratio of 1: √ 2 (square root of 2) and hence the A-series were categorized. The A4 size papers are used as the classic paper sheets in all industrialized countries. It is considered as the standard business letter-size and is commonly used in the world.

The North American paper standards are determined by Imperial Measurement. The Legal sized papers are the common size papers in the US, called as the Legal size paper (US Legal). The paper is 8.5 inches by 14 inches (around 21.5 cm by 35.56 cm). If someone tries to enlarge a document from the letter to legal, they may lose the information and the alignment will change. From this it can be stated that the North American format does not use a constant ratio between sizes.


Comparison between A4 and Legal size Papers:


A4 Size Paper

Legal Size Paper

Standard business definition

The standard size of typing paper adopted by the International Standards Organization. It measures 210 mm wide and 297 mm long (about 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches).



Paper measuring 8.5 inches wide and 14 inches long, used almost exclusively in the UK, US, and Commonwealth countries.



Formalized by

They are formalized by the ISO formal standards

They are formalized by the ANSI Y14.1M - Metric Drawing Sheet Size & Format


In the 1920's, Dr. Porstmann of Germany published a document proposing a standard for paper.

All standard paper sizes in the United States trace their origin to the Committee on the Simplification of Paper Sizes that was formed in the Bureau of Standards in 1921.

Width x Height (in mm)

210 x 297 mm

216 x 356 mm

Width x Height (in)

8.3 x 11.7 in

8.5 x 14.0 in

Aspect Ratio




They are sized by considering a particular ratio of 1: √ 2 (square root of 2).

They are not sized with any particular ratio.

Used in countries

A4 paper size is used internationally in the countries such as:

Australia, New Zealand, UK and many South American countries such as: MexicoCosta RicaChileVenezuela and more.

This paper is used in the countries such as:

North America, including the US, Canada and

parts of Mexico.


A4 size paper is 6mm (0.2") are narrower than US Legal paper and has a smaller length ratio of 59mm (2.3"); hence it is smaller than the Legal paper size.

Legal paper is bigger in area than A4 by 0.015 square meters.


They are used as a standard format in the administrations.

It is found that, the legal sized papers cause some problems.

Applicable as 

  • Letters
  • Magazines
  • Forms
  • Catalogs
  • Laser printer 
  • Copying Machine output
  • Brochures 
  • Legal document

Image Courtesy: theinternetprinter.com.au, graphic-design-employment.com

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