Foolscap folio

Foolscap folio (commonly contracted to foolscap or folio and in short FC) is paper cut to the size of 8 12 × 13 12 inches (216 × 343 mm) (for "normal" writing paper, 13 × 8 in (330 × 200 mm)). This was a traditional paper size used in Europe and the British Commonwealth, before the adoption of the international standard A4 paper.

A full foolscap paper sheet is actually 17 × 13 12 inches (432 × 343 mm) in size, and a folio sheet of any type is half the standard sheet size or a subdivision of this into halves, quarters and so on.

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.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.


In Brazil, the 8 12 by 13 inches (215.9 mm × 330.2 mm) paper size is usually named folio, and it is also sometimes called ofício II, a reference to the 8 12-by-14-inch (215.9 mm × 355.6 mm) paper size (which is named legal but in Portuguese is better known as ofício.

In Venezuela, the 8 12 by 13 inches (215.9 mm × 330.2 mm) paper size is named oficio. While laws expressly permit any paper size, public offices require all documents to be presented in oficio paper size.


F4 is a paper size 210 mm × 330 mm (8.27 in × 12.99 in).[4] 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 may be referred to as "foolscap" or "folio" because of its similarity to the traditional foolscap folio size of 8 12 by 13 12 inches (215.9 mm × 342.9 mm).


  1. Müller, Lothar (2014). White Magic: The Age of Paper. Cambridge: Polity Press. p. 173.
  2. Anon. "Foolscap". The Free Dictionary. Farlex Inc. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  3. 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.
  4. Prographic paper sizes Archived July 4, 2004, at the Wayback Machine

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

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