Binder Size Charts

Ring Binder Sizes

3 Ring Binder Sizes - Your Complete Guide

Are binder sizes really that important? After all, a binder is just a useful item to keep stuff together in, isn’t it? Well, the truth is that you are not going to find a one size fits all binder solution for your important documents.

It is very important that you take into account the dimensions of your documents as well as the type of paper that you use when you are deciding what size and type of binder that you need. If you tend to use a standard binder size then it is very likely at some point that you will need a different sized binder for certain types of documents.

So in this comprehensive guide to binder sizes, we will explain how to measure binder size, binder measurements, ring binder sizes, 3 ring binder sizes, and a lot more. We will provide a binder size chart for you to follow as well.

The 3 Ring Binder

The most popular binder used today is the 3 ring binder so we will start here. People often find it difficult to establish the dimensions of a binder as it is not just a matter of width multiplied by the height. You need to take the spine dimensions into account and the type of rings that the binder has.

3 ring binder sizes are determined by the type and diameter of the rings that it has. You have a choice of three different ring types with a 3 ring binder:

With the round ring, the diameter defines the binder size. So if a round ring has a diameter of 1 inch then you will see this classified as a "1 inch 3 ring binder". This is not the same for the “D” ring type binders. Here the length of the straight edge of the ring determines the binder size.

It is important that you make the distinction between binder sizes and the dimensions of a binder. The binder size depends on the rings whereas the binder dimensions are all about the physical width and height of the binder.

3 Ring Binder Size Chart

When you are choosing a binder for your papers you need to be aware that a binder should always be a bit larger than the size of the paper it will hold. So for example, if you want to keep standard 8.5 inch by 11 inch papers in your binder then the best binder size is likely to be 9.75 inches by 11.5 inches.

Another important factor in choosing the right binder sizes is the number of pages that you want the binder to hold. The type and size of the rings in your 3 ring binder determine the capacity of sheets it will hold. Here is an example 3 ring binder size chart:

Ring SizeRound or “O” RingSlanted “D” Ring“D” Ring
0.5 inches 91 pages 120 pages 120 pages
1 inch 187 pages 212 pages 250 pages
1.5 inches 280 pages 318 pages 375 pages
2 inches 374 pages 424 pages 500 pages
2.5 inches 467 pages 530 pages 625 pages
3 inches 561 pages 636 pages 750 pages

Please bear in mind that different binders from different manufacturers may hold a slightly larger or smaller number of sheets. The important takeaway here is that the “D” ring type binders will always hold more sheets than the round or “O” ring type binders.

There are other sizes of 3 ring binders available based on dimensions. Here is another useful 3 ring binder chart:

Small 5 by 7 inches
Digest 5.5 by 8.5 inches
Photo 8 by 10 inches
A4 8.25 by 11.75 inches
Letter 8.5 by 11 inches
Legal 8.5 by 14 inches
Music 9 by 12 inches
Scrapbook 12 by 12 inches
Art 14 by 17 inches
Ledger 17 by 11 inches


All of the sizes in this chart refer to the size of the paper. Each binder will be slightly larger than the paper size it holds. It is not unusual for organizations to have different sized binders for different applications. While they may choose a standard binder size (e.g. letter size) they may require ledger binders and small binders as well.

It is very important that you choose the right size of binder for the job. If you go for a binder that does not have sufficient capacity then you will end up purchasing more binders to store all of your documents. Although it will cost you more to purchase a larger capacity binder, you will find that you will save money in the long run compared to buying multiple binders.

Standard Binder Size

Is there a standard binder size? Not really but in the United States, the most common paper size used is the “letter” size which is 8.5 inches by 11 inches. So binders that can comfortably hold letter-size paper usually fall into the “standard size” category. As binders are larger than the paper size you could say that a 9 by 12-inch binder was pretty standard.

The truth is that businesses and organizations can use paper sizes and documents of all kinds of sizes, so the idea of a standard size is not really relevant. You need to be careful here as you may find that a standard size binder varies considerably from one vendor to another.

Don’t rely on ordering standard-size binders. Measure the paper and documents that you want to store and then order your binders based on these measurements and the amount of paper that you want each binder to hold. There is nothing worse than ordering a number of “standard binders” only to find that they are not big enough for what you need.

The following charts can be used to determine the ring options and the paper capacity for the size of your binder.

Please contact a sales representative to help you with your choices.

Round Ring

Easily the most common ring metal, the Round-Ring is easy to use and can be mounted on either the spine or back cover. Many options for ring capacities and sheet sizes are available.


The common D-ring metal is mounted to the back cover which frees the spine of mounting rivets allowing for more decoration room. Slightly more compact than the other D-rings, this design allows for a shorter cover.

Slant D-Ring

This ring allows for easier use of index tab dividers as the contents are more spread out when the binder is open. Slant D-rings will also, make page-turning easier.

How to Measure Binder Size

As we said earlier, to answer the question “how big is a binder?” you cannot rely on the physical dimensions alone. Just measuring the height and width of the binder is not enough. You need to know what type of ring the binder has and the ring size. The ring size will determine the width of the binder spine as well.

You will not see the spine widths published for binders. Instead, the vendors will provide you with the diameter of the rings. So if you really want to be sure with your binder measurements we recommend that you look for the ring sizes and the dimensions of the paper that a binder holds.

A 2 inch binder is the diameter of the rings. The actual spine width is likely to be a bit larger than 2 inches as you have to take the width of the front and back covers into account. There will also be a gap between the top and bottom of the rings to the covers which will increase the binder spine width.

Now that you know how to measure binder size properly you can avoid the mistakes that a lot of other people make and end up choosing the wrong size of the binder. It is not too complicated a process and you will find that most vendors reveal ring sizes and paper sizes supported by their binders.

Getting the right Hole Punch

In order for your documents to fit properly in your binder, you will need the right sized hole punch. If you get the wrong hole punch for your binders then you will be in trouble. The hole punch must perfectly complement the binders that you choose.

It is not uncommon for the spaces between rings to vary from one binder manufacturer to another. This is quite rare, and if you have settled for letter-sized binders you should find that a punch designed for letter paper will work fine. It will punch three holes that are spaced 4.25 inches apart.

Of course, you can purchase a letter paper that already has the holes punched in it. This is very convenient and avoids the need for a hole punch altogether. You can get plastic sleeve inserts designed to fit different binder sizes where you will just slip the sheets into the sleeves. The thickness of the sleeves will limit the capacity of the binder though.

If you use a number of different binder sizes then you will need different hole punches for the different papers that you use. Some businesses will have letter-sized binders but also use some other binders such as ledgers. If you are in any doubt about the right hole punch to use then ask your binder vendor.

Other Binder Types

Although 3 ring binders are the most popular in use today they are certainly not the only game in town. Two ring binders, four ring binders, and even six ring binders are available and there are even binders that do not have any rings at all.

You can get a “post” binder for your documents that do not have rings but metal posts instead. These binders will hold paper that has punch holes in a similar way to a ring binder but the capacity will be considerably less than a ring type.

There are also “punchless” binders available which do not require you to punch any holes in your paper or documents. These binders have a clamping device which is used to secure all of the documents within the binder. Again the capacity of punchless binders is considerably less than ring binders. You will probably find that a letter-size punchless binder will have a sheet capacity of 100 to 125 sheets which is pretty limited.

Some ring binders (especially 2 ring binders) can include a lever arch mechanism. These are good if you want to add a lot of sheets into a fairly compact binder. The lever arch helps the rings to snap in place tightly and they are a more robust type of binder.

Choosing the right Type and Size of Binder

You need to think about what you will use the binder for and your preferences for the type of binder. One of the first things to take into account is the sheet capacity of the binder. If you want the binder to hold a large number of sheets then you are better off going for a “D” type binder rather than a round or “O” type binder.

Next on your list of considerations are the dimensions of a binder. You need to be sure that your chosen binder will support the sizes of paper and documents you want it to store. If you want to store specialty paper then you should be able to find special sizes of binders that will do the job for you. There are binder sizes much larger and smaller than letter size paper.

What kind of cover do you want on your binder? The most common covering tends to be a plastic sheet over chipboard. This type of cover provides a good level of protection for your documents. If you want a different type of cover then there are soft covered binders available for example.

There are binders available with other special features too such as organized tabs, pen holders, zippers on additional storage compartments, and more. Think about what you need prior to making your choice of binder.

What about the opening mechanism for your binder? Are you happy with the standard “snap open and shut” ring binder arrangement or do you want a spring-loaded mechanism for example? Lever arch binders are pretty popular as they provide a good way to hold more papers.

There are accessories available for binders as well. If you have standard sized 3 ring binders then you can consider purchasing the following:

  • Interior pockets
  • Reinforcement labels
  • Sheet protectors
  • Mesh pockets to hold pens and pencils
  • Tabbed dividers

So you need to give thought to your next purchase of binders to ensure that you end up with the best one for the job. With all of the different binder sizes and types available it can often be confusing. By taking into account your current and future needs you will not go wrong.

We hope that you have a much better understanding of binder sizes now and the things that are really important such as the type and size of the rings used. Always look for a binder size chart so that you can make the right decision. At PackZen we have a wide range of binders available to meet your needs. Whatever binder sizes you need we can help.