Foolscap folio

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A comparison of the A4 and Foolscap folio papersize

Foolscap folio (commonly contracted to foolscap or folio and in short FC) is paper cut to the size of 8 12 × 13 12 in (216 × 343 mm) for printing or to 8 × 13 in (203 × 330 mm) for "normal" writing paper (foolscap).[1] This was a traditional paper size used in Europe and the British Commonwealth, before the adoption of the international standard A4 paper.

A full (plano) foolscap[2] paper sheet is actually 13 12 × 17 in (343 × 432 mm) in size, and a folio sheet of any type is half the base sheet size.

Foolscap folio
Name inch × inch mm × mm AR Characteristic
Foolscap folio 8½ × 13½ 216 × 343 ª 1:1.5879 Imperial (half foolscap), printing
Foolscap folio 8 × 13 203 × 330 1:1.6256 Traditional British, writing

ª Approximate measure in current use in Latin America: 216 x 341 mm.

Ring binders or lever arch files designed to hold foolscap folios are often used to hold A4 paper (210 × 297 mm, 8 14 × 11 34 in). The slightly larger size of such a binder offers greater protection to the edges of the pages it contains.


Foolscap was named after the fool's cap and bells watermark commonly used from the fifteenth century onwards on paper of these dimensions.[3][4] The earliest example of such paper was made in Germany in 1479. Unsubstantiated anecdotes suggest that this watermark was introduced to England in 1580 by John Spilman, a German who established a papermill at Dartford, Kent.[5] Apocryphally, the Rump Parliament substituted a fool's cap for the royal arms as a watermark on the paper used for the journals of Parliament.[citation needed]

Oficio (mexican)[edit]

In Mexico, the foolscap folio paper size 8 12 by 13 12 inches (216 mm × 343 mm) / (21.6 cm x 34 cm) [6] is named (locally) oficio.


F4 is a paper size 210 mm × 330 mm (8.27 in × 13.0 in).[7] Although metric, based on the A4 paper size, and named to suggest that it is part of the official ISO 216 paper sizes, it is only a de facto standard.

It is often referred to as "foolscap" or "folio" because of its similarity to the traditional foolscap folio size of 8 12 in × 13 12 in (216 mm × 343 mm).


  1. ^ PaperSizes, ‘foolscap’ is an alias for foolscap folio.
  2. ^ PaperSize, ‘Foolscap’ Paper Size Dimensions, Imperial.
  3. ^ Müller, Lothar (2014). White Magic: The Age of Paper. Cambridge: Polity Press. p. 173.
  4. ^ Anon. "Foolscap". The Free Dictionary. Farlex Inc. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  5. ^ Anon. "Entry in the Dartford Holy Trinity parish register for Sir John Spielman (Spillman), 8 November 1626". Medway: City Ark Document Gallery. Medway Council. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  6. ^ Photo of foolscap folio paper (* Mexican).
  7. ^ Prographic paper sizes Archived July 4, 2004, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

THE COLLATION a gathering of scholarship from the Folger Library showing image of Foolscap folio watermark