Originally Published August 2022
Updated January 2024

In the market for a printer or copier? You've likely encountered the terms A3 and A4.

What's the difference? 

Both are great solutions; choosing the right one depends on your organization's unique needs.

A3 vs A4: Choosing the Right Fit

The A3 and A4 naming system comes from the International A Standard of paper sizes. In the United States, we don’t often use the A3/A4 names; instead, we use names like US Letter, Legal and Tabloid/Ledger to describe sizes. Here are some dimensions: 

  • A4: 8.27 in. x 11.69 in. 
  • A3: 16.5 in. x 11.7 in. 
  • US Letter: 8.5 in. x 11 in. 
  • Legal: 8.5 in. x 14 in. 
  • Tabloid/Ledger: 11 in. x 17 in.  

Understanding the A3 and A4 paper standards is the key to comprehending the printers named after them. Now onto what differentiates A3 from A4 printers. 

What Is an A3 Printer? 

An A3 printer can print multiple sizes of paper, including A3, A4, US Letter, Legal, Tabloid/Ledger and other smaller sizes like seen with envelopes and postcards. Paper sizes can go up to 11 x 17 or possibly 12 x 18 if you’re using a bypass tray.

Capable of handling various paper types and thicknesses, A3 printers often include finishing options.

Typically larger than A4 and floor-standing, A3 printers are designed as office workhorses, providing printing, copying, scanning and possibly faxing capabilities. Their durability and versatility make them ideal for high-volume projects.

What Is an A4 Printer? 

An A4 printer is built for smaller paper sizes, the most common being A4, or US Letter (8.5 x 11).

While some A4 models can accommodate legal-size paper, as well as smaller formats like envelopes and postcards, it's important to note that A4 printers are not equipped to handle larger paper sizes such as A3, ledger or tabloid.

A4 printers cater to offices, teams and individuals with modest printing requirements, where the use of tabloid-sized paper is infrequent and additional accessories and features are not as common. They are generally found in home offices, offering a compact and cost-effective solution for those with lighter printing demands. 

A4 printers are a valuable, low-cost alternative if your printing volume is low.

Key A3 and A4 Printer Differences

Costs, volume, speed, features, footprint, durability and your team’s needs are all deciding factors when choosing A3 vs A4. 


When considering A3 vs A4 devices, you want to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO). This includes the upfront device costs, along with maintenance and supplies expenses throughout its lifespan.

You will also need to know your black/white and color monthly volume to calculate the TCO.

Costs for any copy machine will vary based on your usage. Loffler can help tailor the total cost of ownership to your specific needs, ensuring you pay for what's truly necessary.


If your organization prints more than 5,000 pages per month, lean toward an A3 printer. 

If your organization prints fewer than 5,000 pages per month but still wants great color and speed, A4 might be a good fit. 


Speed considerations come down to the make and model of printers and go beyond simply what A3 vs A4 devices have to offer. A3s can handle several different paper sizes, and typically run at faster speeds than an A4 printer, meaning they print more papers per minute (ppm).

However, A4 doesn’t inherently imply a slower machine. You can find A4 printers with impressive speeds.

While A4 machines may not match the volume handling capacity of A3 printers, their speed and print quality can rival A3 capabilities, especially for smaller printing needs.

To find the right solution for your needs, especially considering speed, rely on a trusted partner like Loffler for expert guidance.

Abilities & Features 

A3 printers can print on larger sizes of paper, including A3 and tabloid/ledger. In contrast, A4 printers are more limited, accommodating only A4 and US/letter sizes – typically suitable for standard home office printing needs.

Both A3 and A4 printers boast essential print/copy/scan/fax functionalities. However, A4 printers come with fewer finishing capabilities like limited stapling and internal finishing options. 

For users requiring advanced finishing options such as stapling, folding, stacking, booklets or 3-hole punching, the A3 printer is the go-to choice. If desired, A3s are equipped with high-capacity drawers, ensuring seamless operation during extensive print jobs. This is a crucial time-saver when dealing with large document volumes.

A3 printers offer a user-friendly experience with a tablet-like interface and various applications. While some higher-cost A4 models may have a touchscreen interface, the more affordable ones typically feature a button-style control panel.

Teams with huge documents to scan, like those in legal, real estate or working with contracts, will appreciate the higher paper feed capacity in A3 printers, as well as single-pass scanning options. A4 devices will often have slower dual-scanning abilities, which requires the machine to flip a document to scan front and back. 


A3 printers require a larger space (picture 3 ft. by 3ft. minimum) because of the ability to print on larger paper. They stand on the floor, resembling traditional office copiers.   

A4s can fit in a smaller space (picture 2 ft. by 2 ft) because they print on smaller paper. While they can have additional paper drawers and stand on the floor, they are often seen with 1-2 paper drawers on desktops. But keep in mind, A4 is more than just a desktop printer. 


A3 printers, being larger, are built with durable materials for increased longevity and robustness.

A4 printers, constructed with lighter materials, are less durable and designed for lower-volume use. If your printing needs exceed A4 specifications, it may wear out quickly and require more frequent servicing and replacement over time. 

Team Size and Printing Needs

An A3 printer is likely going to suit the needs of several employees throughout the day. If you’re expecting the machine to be used for high-volume printing, an A3 may be the best option.  

A4 devices may be ideal for smaller offices or smaller teams with 3-5 people with low-volume printing needs (under 5,000 pages per month).  

For home offices, small businesses or teams without high finishing needs, A4 is beneficial. Otherwise, consider A3.

Note: Small employee user groups aren’t automatically a fit for A4s, though. If they need to print high volume, tabloid, specialty paper or need those finishing extras, consider an A3 printer. 

Navigate the Decision with Expert Guidance

We’ve gone through several considerations that make A3 vs A4 printers different. We hope you have a better understanding now of how the right fit depends on your needs.

In many cases, the right answer is a mix of A3 and A4 devices for various departments, placed strategically throughout a workplace to maximize workflows and keep employees productive.  

Loffler specializes in helping organizations select the right print device(s) for their environments. We can help identify your volume, speed and usage needs and recommend the right fit for you. Contact us today for expert guidance!

Right-sizing your print environment is a vital part of the buying process. It’s important to review your needs, to get what you need for today and for the future. Learn more about copier and printer options by downloading our helpful guide:

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Read More: How to Manage Printing Costs and Enhance Profitability

John Turner

John Turner is the VP of Customer Success and Managed Print Services at Loffler Companies. He's a big Vikings fan and a crowd favorite around the Loffler office (in addition to his always-positive attitude, he's Loffler's resident baker: he's known to treat everyone to home-made baked goods at several company events!)

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