Posted on




If you have been researching information about new copiers, printers or MFPs you may have come across the terms A3 and A4. These terms refer to the paper sizes the machine is designed to handle. Paper sizes are defined by two different organizations. The paper sizes in the United States are defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). All other nations paper sizes are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (In ISO 216)

A3 is 11.69 x 16.53 inches which is similar to (U.S. sized paper) Ledger 11″ x 17″.

A4 is 8.27 × 11.69 inches which is similar to (U.S. sized paper) Letter 8 1/2″ x 11″ .

An A3 printer, copier, or MFP is designed to handle A3, A4,  letter, legal, ledger and some smaller sizes like postcards & envelopes.

An A4 printer, copier, or MFP is smaller and more compact. It is designed to handle A4, letter & legal, but not A3 or ledger sized paper. An A4 machine will also typically handle some smaller sizes like postcards and envelopes.

Which one is right for your office depends mainly on the paper sizes you will be printing, copying and scanning. However there are a few other things you should be aware of before you make a decision.

Paper Sizes A3 VS A4

Many offices use only letter and legal sized paper. However some offices use the larger ledger size for engineering documents, making booklets, menus, and design layouts. Ledger size paper is the same size as two letter sized pages put together. This makes booklet making easy by simply folding the paper in half. Also because of the large size it is useful for enlarging engineering diagrams to a readable size. Ledger is also great for printing large spreadsheets on. It’s much easier to read a spreadsheet printed on ledger sized paper than reducing the font to mice type to fit on letter sized paper.A4 Paper compared to A3 paper size

The Size Difference Between A3 and A4 machines

Since an A4 machine is designed to work with A4, letter, legal and smaller paper sizes it has smaller internal components. This allows for a more compact design which results in a machine that takes up less space than the larger A3 machine. And that’s a great feature for small offices. On the other hand, an A3 machine is designed to work with the larger A3, ledger sized paper and has larger more durable internal components. This results in a larger frame and it will require more space than an A4 machine.

Available Options On A3 and A4 machines

The smaller and lighter A4 machines generally have only light duty options available. For example, if the machine has a stapler option it may be limited to stapling only 20 pages at a time. There might not even be a large capacity tray, folder, 3-hole punch, or finisher available for the machine.

If you require equipment options such as large capacity trays, 3-hole punching, folding, finishing, or stapling 50 or more sheets at a time than you will likely need a a full size A3 machine to handle these tasks.

Cost difference between A3 and A4 machines

The larger more robustly designed A3 machine will cost more in terms of equipment costs. And the A4 machines with their smaller lighter frames and lower yielding internal components will cost less in terms of equipment costs.

But equipment costs are not the only thing you should be keeping an eye on. You should also be paying close attention to how much it will cost to use the machine. Service and supplies are not cheap.

Service and supply costs are generally higher on A4 machines. This is because the A4 machine has consumable items that are light duty and do not have high page yields. In addition, many of the internal units are disposable and are not designed to be repaired or maintained. So while the A4 machine costs less, they typically cost more to use on a per page basis than the larger A3 machine.

You’re monthly printing/copying volume will be the key to determining which machine is most cost effective for your office. If you’re only running 1000-4000 pages a month than even with higher per page costs the A4 will usually be the most cost effective.

If you’re monthly printing/copying volume is above 4500 pages a month an A3 machine might be a better fit. You should consult with an industry professional. A knowledgeable person can help you get the right equipment for your office and often save you money at the same time.

Copiers And Printers Understanding A3 VS A4 Summary

A4 machines are a great option for small offices or work-groups that don’t have rigorous requirements or high copying/printing volumes. A3 machines are the workhorses that are built to handle demanding jobs and higher printing/copying volumes.

  • A3 up to ledger (11 x 17) size paper – A4 up to legal (8.5 x 14) size paper
  • A3 larger more durable machine – A4 smaller more compact & light duty
  • A3 lots of optional equipment – A4 limited optional equipment & lighter duty accessories
  • A3 higher priced equipment – A4 lower equipment cost
  • A3 lower supply & service costs – A4 higher supply and equipment costs

Our friendly and professional staff are available 8 AM – 5 PM Mon-Fri to answer questions and schedule appointments.

Call us at: 877-852-0044

Source One Solutions Life Preserver Logo

Consulting with a knowledgeable professional can lower your overall printing costs. At SOS we perform document workflow evaluations for our customers and help them discover the true cost of handling their documents. Typically we can save our customers 20%-40% while introducing new solutions that make document handling easier. Feel free to contact our friendly and courteous staff. In just a few minutes we can let you know if you can realize these same savings.