A3 vs A4

Shopping for a new office copier, printer or MFP can be overwhelming. You’ve likely been researching your options to make sure you purchase the correct machine for your needs. During your search, you may have stumbled upon the terms A3 and A4. Below we will explain what A3 and A4 mean and how to decide which type of machine is right for your business.  

A3 vs A4

A3 and A4 are paper sizes. The term is used to refer to what size of paper the multifunction printer (MFP) is capable of printing.

A3

A3 is an international paper size, 11.69 x 16.53 inches, similar to 11″ x 17″ (Ledger) paper. An A3 MFP is capable of handling A3, A4, letter, ledger, legal and select smaller sized paper such as envelopes.

A4

A4 is an international paper size, 8.27 x 11.69 inches, similar to 8.5″ x 11″ (Letter) paper. An A4 MFP is more compact, designed to handle A4, letter, legal and select smaller sized paper such as envelopes. It cannot print A3 or ledger-sized paper.

How to Know What Machine is Right for You:

When deciding which machine is the best for your business needs there are multiple factors to consider in addition to the paper size capabilities.

Machine Size

Is space a concern in your office space?

An A3 device is much larger than an A4 device. This is due to the need to accommodate for handling 11×17 paper, resulting in a larger frame. The machine may take up more space in an office; however, the size allows for more durable parts and solid construction.

Examples of A3 Multifunction Printers

A4 machines can be much smaller in size because they only need to handle smaller paper sizes. A4 machines can range from small desktop machines to standalone devices with multiple drawers. Please note an A4 multifunction printer is not just a desktop printer.

Examples of A4 Multifunction Printers

Machine Functions

Does your business need finishing capabilities such as, folding, 3-hole punching, or stapling?

If you plan on creating booklets or 3-hole punched documents, you will most likely need to choose an A3 device. A3 devices often have many optional equipment accessories and finishing products. The smaller size of an A4 device makes it difficult to include finishing options. There are limited accessory options for an A4 device, for example, stapling.

Price Difference

Do you know how much it costs each time you hit print?

The base cost of the equipment will be higher for the A3 printer, given its greater capabilities and design. However, the equipment cost is not the only matter that affects costs. The cost of service and supplies will greatly affect the overall cost.

Keeping costs low with an A4 printer can be a challenge considering service and supplies are typically higher. Many A4 MFPs are not made to have high page yields. Therefore, the ink/toner will need to be replaced more regularly. Due to this the A4 machine tends to cost more per page.

You can determine which machine will be more cost effective for your business based on your anticipated page volume and work environment. If you run less than 5,000 pages monthly or your office is split into small workgroups an A4 device will most likely be more cost effective for your business needs. On the other hand, if you are printing more than 5,000 pages a month and many people will use the device, an A3 machine will most likely be a better choice of equipment. Additionally, if your business plans on making large quantities of copies and scans, an A3 MFP will likely be better for your needs.

Quick Reference Chart for A3 vs A3 Multifunction Printers

 A3 Multifunction PrinterA4 Multifunction Printer
Print, Copy, Scan, FaxXX
A4, Letter, Legal Size PrintingXX
A3, Ledger, 11×17 PrintingX 
EnvelopesXX
Smaller Device, Smaller Footprint X
Heavy, More Durable, Bigger FootprintX 
Finishing Options (Booklets, Staples, etc.)X 
0-5,000 Page Volume Per Month* X
5,000+ Page Volume Per MonthX 
High Volume of Copies, Scans and FaxesX 
Intended for Small Workgroups or Individuals X
Intended for Multiple UsersX 
Can be a Table-top Device X
Can be a Stand-alone DeviceXX
* Many A4 devices are capable of printing more than 5,000 pages per month, we use this number as a general guide.

While this is a quick guide to steer you in the correct direction for your multi-function printer purchase, we recommend discussing your print situation with an industry expert. There are many different products that fall under each category, A3, and A4, and they are not all made the same. For example, in certain scenarios it might seem that your office needs an A3 device, but that is not always the case. Sometimes an A4 device will be better for your situation. A print specialist will ensure you are selecting the machine that best suits your specific needs while maintaining cost-effectiveness.