This post contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase something through one of my links, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this website.
Everyone needs a planner. Whether they’re a school or college student needing to plan out their classes for the semester, a manager keeping up with the week’s itinerary, or simply keeping track of people’s birthdays.
These little notepads are an excellent resource for any busybody.
And what’s more, having the right planner for your needs can often make an important difference in someone’s life.
It can often be the thing that turns another wasted pad at the back of your drawer that just gathers dust and a notebook that can help you organize your life for the next few weeks, months, or years.
However, with so many different sizes and formats for planners out there, finding out which ones work best for you, and why, is a real headache.
Well, that’s what this guide is here to help clear up. It will break down the most common planner sizes out there (starting from biggest to smallest), what notes they’re best for, as well as what strategies you can use to finally decide on the perfect notepad for you.
Planner Sizes: Broken Down
So, before I start showing how exactly to decide on a specific planner size for your needs, you first need to see the typical notepad sizes out there for you to buy.
Custom designs and sizes can have slight variations, depending on where you are sourcing them from. However, most manufacturers, both mass-produced and custom-made, will follow the broad guidelines that are outlined here:
- A4 Size (8.2 X 11.7 Inches)
- Letter Size (8.5 X 11 Inches)
- Half-Letter Size (8.5 X 5.5 In)
- Medium Size (7 X 9 Inches)
- A5 Size (5.8 X 8.2 Inches)
- Personal (3.7 X 6.7 Inches)
- Pocket (3.2 X 4.7 Inches)
There are more than a few sizes that you can find planners in, both physical and online.
A4 Size (8.2 X 11.7 Inches)
Probably the overall largest sized planner size that you’ll find out there, A4 paper is a measurement that, while not particularly popular in the United States, is used across the world very commonly as the standard size of paper.
You can expect to find this particular paper size used in both Canada and Mexico, as an example.
They are generally a similar size to US Letter sizes, but the easiest way to tell them apart is that A4 paper and planners are a little more narrow and taller than their US counterparts.
However, A4 paper can also be found in the US, though it can be a little tricky in some locations.
As you can imagine, having a planner this size is perfect for helping you collect your thoughts and notes onto one single page. This makes it perfect for plenty of note-heavy situations, and why both teachers and students love this type of planner design.
However, all that extra writing space comes at a cost. These are some of the heaviest and bulkiest types of notepad planners that you can find out there, especially if you have a hardback type of planner.
Lugging one of these around constantly can be a hassle if you don’t have a bag big enough, and will often be expensive to post.
Letter Size (8.5 X 11 Inches)
A paper size only found in the US, letter size is the US standard paper size, as well as a very common planner size here too.
US letter-size planners have many of the same perks and drawbacks as an A4-size notepad. You’re able to get a ton of information or details down in your letter-size planner, at the cost of ease of transporting, heaviness, and… well, cost!
However, binders for both this size and A4 sizes are very easy to come across, which does make keeping your planner notes together a cinch.
Half-Letter Size (5.5 X 8.5 In)
Now, we’re starting to move on to the smaller types of planners out there.
These planners can be found with a spiral binding, or with a hardback binding, and as their name suggests, they are pretty much half the size of a standard letter planner.
The smaller size of these planners obviously comes with some drawbacks when it comes to writing space. You’ll likely be filling out the pages much quicker, and run out of room a lot sooner.
Not exactly ideal when you need to take notes for classes, is it?
However, their smaller size makes them much easier to transport, both in a bag or by delivery.
This makes them very popular as on-hand journals, provided that your bag has the space for them. It’s probably why, as both personal and event diaries, this size is one of the most popular.
Medium Size (7 X 9 Inches)
Medium-sized planners are pretty close to square-shaped when it comes to the planner layout that we’ve covered.
They’re also some of the most common types of planners that you’ll find for sale out there, balancing both size and ease of transporting into a decently big package. These can cover a wide range of uses, from school notes, to diary entries, and event planning.
A5 Size (5.8 X 8.2 Inches)
Another size that is more common around the rest of the world than in the US, A5 planners are also slightly wider and shorter than their half-letter US counterparts, but only by a fraction.
These planners will also often come with spiral binders, although it’s not impossible to find hardback planners of this size.
This popular size around the world makes them a very easy planner size to source and has a lot of the advantages that both half-letter and medium planner notebooks have.
Plus, if your printer allows for a5 paper sizes, you’ll be able to print more pages out to add to this planner!
These planner sizes also come with inserts, perfect for segmenting your notes and work up into a more digestible format, especially when a good clip spiral design.
However, that works both ways. Being able to add inserts and extra pages can really make the overall cost of an A5 planner a lot more expensive than you might expect.
Personal (3.7 X 6.7 Inches)
Now, we’re starting to get to the really small planner sizes!
Also known as A6 size planners, personal planners were first made popular thanks to Filofax selling their planners at this size. Since then, many other companies have started to sell them at this small, easy-to-store size.
Their small size doesn’t just make them easy to store, but also next to completely unnoticeable to carry when it comes to weight. These are so easy to just put in the front or small compartment of a bag, and take with you everywhere.
As you can imagine, writing space does come at a pretty big cost to this.
While my handwriting is relatively small, so I can counter some of these writing space issues, if you’re someone that likes clear, easy-to-read notes from a decent reading distance, you may want to look elsewhere for your preferred planning pad.
Plus, pads of this size and small also come with another issue, and that is decorating space.
One of the idle pass times that many people love to do is to decorate the outside of their planners with stickers to make it feel more like theirs (as well as make them easier to identify).
There’s just not enough space for more than one sticker per side unless you know what exactly you’re looking for
Pocket (3.2 X 4.7 Inches)
The smallest size of planners out there, pocket planners, as their name suggests, are so small that you can easily fit them into a decently sized pocket.
These are by far some of the easiest planners to move around with, as you can imagine.
For us, this makes them perfect for making shopping lists or keeping track of the essential notes that you need to keep in mind while out doing your daily tasks, such as a shopping list, or events that you need to plan.
However, with next to no writing space for them, we strongly advise against using these for more extensive notes!
Tips For Picking Your Planner Size
So, as you can see, each planner size comes with its own issues and advantages. So, it falls on your shoulders to decide which type is best for your current needs.
Luckily, I’ve found that keeping these factors in mind can make the whole process a lot easier. It helps you narrow down the scope of what exactly you’re looking for in a good planner.
This is arguably the most important factor. What exactly will you be using this notepad for?
Situations that require extensive note-taking, such as when you’re in a class or lecture, are probably going to need a little more page space to make those notes.
We’d recommend getting A4/letter-sized planners, or medium/A5-sized binders for this purpose.
If you’re trying to journal with your planner, you want something that is both big enough to make decent notes, even if they’re only bullet points, and easy to carry. The medium planner sizes are the best for this, in my experience.
If you’re just looking for something to make crucial notes/brief lists with, this is where I’ve found that the smaller planner sizes work best.
Consider Binder Type
When it comes to how your planners are bound, the most common types that you’ll find are either hardback spines, like a regular book, or a spiral spine, usually made of some kind of metal.
Each one has its perks and cons. Hardback planners tend to be a lot tougher, and won’t be damaged nearly as easily as spiral-bound planners can be, with that thicker spine protecting them.
How Important Are Well-Constructed Notes?
If the notes need to be clear, stick with the larger notepads! Trust me when I say this: There’s no worse feeling than coming back to your notes, only to find they don’t make sense because they’re too short due to page limitations!
I’ve mentioned plenty of important factors that you should consider when picking out your planner, all of which you should keep in mind.
However, don’t underestimate just how important having a planner that you, you know, actually enjoy looking at, is as a factor when picking your final notepad.
Depending on what you’re using this for, you’re going to be looking at this planner a lot, o it pays to have a design that you like.
This is also where you’ll have the most fun looking around, as the number of different color palettes and designs out there is truly astonishing. You’ll be able to pick out one that speaks to you.
Plus, some of these furnishings can be more than pretty window dressing. The textures of a certain planner design can make holding and using these planners a much more enjoyable experience.
As an example, these leather planners are one of our favorite types of work notepads.
Not only does the leather add rich, vibrant color to your diary of choice, but the texture and plush, cushioned feeling make it a treat to hold or rest on yourself as you write.
Planners aren’t going to go anywhere anytime soon. Even in their physical form, they offer reliability and ease of use that even the best tablet and phone apps can’t match.
Hopefully, now, you’re a little more prepared to pick out your pad planner of choice!