What Size Paper Do Printing Companies Use?

It's a common misconception that print companies print onto paper that is the size of the finished job. You might imagine that for A4 leaflets, we print onto paper that is already A4 in size – like you would do at home with your desktop printer.

However, with commercial print equipment that's not the case. We print onto paper that is SRA3 and SRA2 sized. These are commercial paper sizes and probably not something that you'll ever come across in day to day life. Paper like this is used for leaflets and flyers and other digital print, but doesn't apply to wide format machines used for large PVC banner printing or roller bands, as that material comes on large rolls.

What Is SRA3?

SRA stands for "supplementary raw format A" and is slightly larger than its corresponding "A" paper size.

For example, a finished sheet of A3 paper is 420mm x 297mm, but SRA3 is 450mm x 320mm. 

Just like most desktop printers, commercial print machines can't print edge to edge, so the extra size of SRA3 paper allows us room to get around that. If we're doing A3 poster printing, for example, we'll print the poster in the middle of an SRA3 sheet with around 3mm of extra print around the edges know as "bleed". The area that we can't print on, the outer unprinted white parts, is trimmed down afterwards, leaving us with a finished, edge-to-edge A3 print as required. SRA3 is a common size that most commercial digital print machines take. Of course, litho presses can print much bigger. 

What Size Prints Can You Print On SRA3 Paper?

In the case of smaller printed items, we simply print multiples of them on one SRA3 sheet. For example, we can fit 4 A5 leaflets on one SRA3 sheet, and still have space around the edges and between each one to ensure that we can end up with 4 x A5 leaflets once the large SRA3 sheet is trimmed down using our guillotine. With that in mind, by printing on one SRA3 sheet we can actually print:

  • 1 x A3 sheet per each SRA3 sheet
  • 2 x A4 sheets per each SRA3 sheet
  • 4 x A5 sheets per each SRA3 sheet
  • 8 x A6 sheets per each SRA3 sheet
  • 16 x A7 sheets per each SRA3 sheet
  • 21 x 85x55mm business cards per each SRA3 sheet

Different Paper Sizes That Fit Into SRA3

Why Print On A Larger Sheet?

The main reason for printing multiple sizes on one SRA3 sheet is cost. Paper prices don't double with sheet size so it's more economical to print on the largest sheet you're able to. Print machines also have a maximum number of sheets they can run in one hour, and this doesn't double by reducing the sheet size, so using the maximum sheet size for the machine is paramount to keeping production costs low.

SRA3 Paper On A Pallet

How Do Print Companies Set Prices?

Digital print companies price for work by dividing the quantity the customer requires, by the amount of copies they can fit onto an SRA3 sheet. The result gives the amount of sheets of paper they need and the amount of impressions to run on the print machine, which both have a cost. Added together they are then marked up to a small profit for the print company.

Need something printing? Or just want to know more about our paper options, or what we can do for you? Click here for our contact page and get in touch, we'd love to help!