There are a variety of paper sizes throughout the world. The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, sets the standard for the paper sheet sizes. Two of the most common ones used in North America are letter and legal.
Letter Size Paper
Letter size paper dimensions are 8.5x11 inches, or 216×279 mm. It is sometimes referred to as A size paper, not to be confused with the international A sizes of paper commonly used in the United Kingdom.
Legal Size Paper
Letter size paper dimensions are 8.5 x 14 inches, or 216 × 356 mm. It is sometimes referred to as foolscap, referring to an old brand of paper that used this logo as a watermark on the paper.
Forms of Letter and Legal Paper
Both letter and legal size paper can be sold in a variety of forms, from note pads and punched loose-leaf sheets to computer paper.
Uses of Letter and Legal Paper
Letter size is the most commonly accepted form of paper in North America and is used for almost all writing purposes. Legal paper is used in the legal profession, for accounting, and in real estate. The longer length of the legal size paper helps make contracts more easily read and is of benefit in printing off spreadsheets, fliers, leaflets, newsletters and other types of written communication that can benefit from the larger paper size. Legal paper requires specially sized file folders and binders to store the paper, and it is not always accommodated in printers, photocopiers or fax machines. Some filing cabinets will have adjustable brackets to accommodate letter or legal-sized hanging folders.