Saturday, April 05, 2008

An A4 sized problem

This issue shows how important it is for product and services companies to make sure that their offerings are localized for their target locations.

Now, the office stationary world is divided into two main standards - The (North) American and the International. (All paper size standards and figures courtesy: Wikipedia)

While the North American system uses the following:

Size in × in

Letter 8½ × 11
Legal 8½ × 14
Ledger[2] 17 × 11
Tabloid 11 × 17

The International system uses this:

Size in × in

A0 33.1 × 46.8
A1 23.4 × 33.1
A2 16.5 × 23.4
A3 11.7 × 16.5
A4 8.3 × 11.7

The most common forms of paper used for office/home printing are the A4 and the Letter size.

You'd notice, that the A4 is almost the same width, but longer than the 'Letter' size by three quarters of an inch.

Now, here is the real problem:

A4 is the de-facto paper-size standard in India. You go to any paper/ stationary shop and ask them for office printing paper, they will hand you a pack containing A4 sized sheets.

Unfortunately, most software (and printer drivers) used in India are thoughtlessly set to the American 'Letter' size. So when you make a document on say - MS Word, the document is formatted and margins are left based on the Letter paper layout. And guess what happens when you click the Print button? This 'letter' sized document gets printed on A4 sized paper and that leaves close to an inch of unprinted paper at the bottom (not considering the 'margins' one might have set). And most people printing them out are blissfully ignorant of this issue!

What a sheer waste of precious ecological resource! Roughly, for every 15 pages you print, 1 page is just wasted due to this simple setting! Add the numbers up for your entire organization and across the country - thats a COLOSSAL waste we can easily live without.

Here's my recommendation to all people who use word processing and printing on their computers - please, check your default print settings and match them with your paper sizes - especially if you are in an A4 paper country, forced to use a Letter setting.

And to all developing print products - please ensure that the default values for paper sizes match the standards prevalent in that locale.

Lets do our bit in cutting paper waste and making this world a better place :) Please spread this message around at least at your work-place.

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