Ruled paper

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A notebook with ruled paper

Ruled paper (or lined paper) is writing paper printed with lines as a guide for handwriting. The lines often are printed with fine width and in light colour and such paper is sometimes called feint-ruled paper. Additional vertical lines may provide margins or act as tab stops or create a grid for plotting data; for example, graph paper (squared paper or grid paper) is divided into squares by horizontal and vertical lines.

Generic types[edit]

Lines on ruled paper provide a guide to help users keep their writing or drawing consistent with a predetermined set of rules. The ruling layout is not determined by the paper size but by the purpose, style of handwriting or the language used. Many different line layouts support handwriting, calligraphy, plotting data on graphs, musical notation or help teach students to write in a particular language or script. The following are common examples:

  • Note paper (or Writing paper, Filler paper, Loose leaf paper, Binder paper) is typically used for handwriting and is produced in different layouts and sizes. The layout usually consists of evenly spaced horizontal lines, or feints, with vertical lines drawn to indicate margins, the middle of the page, or sections of a line. The example shown right is described as A4, bound, with narrow feint and margin[1].
  • Graph paper has horizontal and vertical lines evenly spaced over the entire page to create a grid of squares and is used for drafting, drawing and plotting graphs. Often every tenth or fifth line is bolded to assist in counting the lines when plotting data.
  • Quadrille ruled paper (or quad paper) is similar to graph paper but without the bolded tenth lines. It is useful in mathematics to keep numbers in columns when doing manual operations such as long division or long multiplication, and in spreadsheets or accounts.
  • Semi-log ruled paper is similar to quadrille ruled, except the horizontal lines are spaced according to the logarithmic scale instead of being evenly spaced.[2]
  • Log-log ruled paper is similar to semi-log ruled except that both the horizontal and vertical lines are spaced logarithmically.
  • Manuscript paper is used for handwriting music. The most basic page is laid out with a series of five-line staves, each spanning the width of the page. Any musical notation (clefs, bars, notes, etc.) may be written in as desired by the artist. As notebook paper is to the written word, music manuscript paper is to the written score.

Regional standards[edit]

Regional standards exist for ruling layouts, particularly for academic or government clerical purposes.


Elementary students use (田字格) Tianzigezhi ruled paper.


In order to foster handwriting discipline, a type of ruling known as Seyès ruling[3] is used on paper in schools. Heavy vertical lines are spaced 8 mm (appx. 5/16 in) apart, beginning 16 mm (appx. 5/8 in) from the left-hand edge of the page. Three lighter lines are spaced 2 mm (appx. 5/64 in) apart between each pair of heavy lines.[4] These sheets of paper are generally known as grands carreaux (large tiles) as opposed to the petits carreaux (small tiles) which are 5x5mm. Seyès ruled paper is available in single sheets (copies simples) or joined double sheets (copies doubles) which are sometimes preferred for exams, being easier to handle.


DIN 16552:1977-04 (“Lines for handwriting”) specifies the types of ruled paper to be used by school pupils.[5]


Among others, genkō yōshi (原稿用紙, "manuscript paper") is a kind of paper mainly used for kanji script writing, formed vertically with individual boxes for each Chinese character. There is a thin column to the right of the boxes, for transcribing kana pronunciation. The sizes can vary for ability levels. It is used across the East Asian cultural sphere, for example in Korea for writing proverbs.
It is also the main form of rule used by Taiwanese students writing in Mandarin, where it is called 原稿紙 (pinyin: yuángǎo zhǐ). In Taiwan, students use the thin vertical column to transcribe Bopomofo pronunciation.

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand standard for school stationery, 1984 specifies standards for ruled and unruled paper.


Formats for exercise notebooks are standardised.[6]. School exercise books must use 8 mm spacing between the lines, other ruled paper may use 6 mm, 7 mm, 8 mm and 9 mm spacing. The paper for cursive writing uses pairs of lines 4 mm apart, with 8 mm between the pairs. They may also have angled lines at 65 degrees to vertical to provide additional guidance. The lines can have gray, blue, green or purple color. The vertical margin line must have red or orange color.

United States[edit]

Ruled paper is available in a variety of semi-standardized formats:

  • Narrow ruled paper has ​14 in (832 in, 6.4 mm) spacing between ruling lines, and is used by those with smaller handwriting or to fit more lines per page.
  • Medium ruled (or College ruled) paper has 932 in (7.1 mm) spacing between horizontal lines, with a vertical margin drawn about 1 14 inches (32 mm) from the left-hand edge of the page. Its use is very common in the United States.
  • Wide ruled (or Legal ruled) paper has 1132 in (8.7 mm) spacing between horizontal lines, with a vertical margin drawn about 1 14 inches (32 mm) from the left-hand edge of the page. It is commonly used by American children in grade school, as well as by those with larger handwriting.
  • Gregg ruled paper has ruling specialized for stenography. It has 1132 in (8.7 mm) spacing between ruling lines, with a single margin drawn down the center of the page.
  • Pitman ruled paper has ruling specialized for stenography. It has 12 in (12.7 mm) spacing between ruling lines, with a single margin drawn down the center of the page.
  • Manuscript ruled paper is used to teach young children how to write. A blank sheet consists of rows of three lines (the space between them depends on the age group being taught) with the middle line in each three-line set being dotted. The D'Nealian writing style is a well-known teaching method that makes use of this type of paper ruling. Another educational institution, A Beka Book, utilizes this ruling along with a house metaphor (upstairs, downstairs, and basement) to help young children learn where parts of each letter should be written. The usage is similar in concept to the use of the horizontal lines on French Seyès rule paper.
  • Junior Legal ruled paper is found on 5 inch by 8 inch Junior Legal Pads. This can be equal to Narrow rule or Medium rule, depending on the manufacturer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Feint-ruled paper". Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  2. ^ "Semi-log Plots". Archived from the original on 2002-10-20. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  3. ^ "Seyès Ruling (a.k.a. French Ruling)". Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  4. ^ "Clairefontaine Stationery". Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  5. ^ Kuhn, M., International standard paper sizes, accessed 2012-03-01
  6. ^ "Exercise notebook, basic technical requirements (Russian industry standard)". p. 8. Retrieved 25 March 2017.

External links[edit]