More about The A-Format & Silver Rectangle - page 6.
If this (the Roman foot) was applied 
as the unit of measure from the begin- 
ning, we can better understand the ir-
regular dimensions of which the system 
    When the decimal system with its me-
ters and centimeters was introduced in 
France it was highly inconvenient to alter 
the paper formats since printing machin-
ery, paper guillotines, and the printer's 
other tools and machinery were based on 
the already accepted sizes. Instead there-
fore of altering the paper sizes to "round" 
figures in the metric system, it was de
cided to express the old Roman foot 
dimensions in the appropriate number 
of millimeters and to retain the sizes 
    As the previous chapters have shown, 
the system of sub-division itself is really 
  It is thus, as stated, entirely within the  
limits of credibility that both the system 
of division and the unit of measure were 
imported at some early stage in France's 
printing history direct from Rome. 
    Use of the format system and sizes 
spread from Church printing houses to 
other printers in France, until it became 
the established means of dividing 
and measuring paper.       
    From France the sizes and system 
gradually worked their way throughout 
the rest of Europe, each country 
accepting in turn the sizes in question 
on account of their rational proportions. 
    The rational part about the A-format 
of paper is not the actual size of the 
individual sheet but the system of division 
which produced the proportions. 
    The system was superior to all other 
sizes and shapes of paper, and -- in any 
event in Europe -- slowly ousted all com- 
    Thus a tiny aspect of ancient geometry 
found its way unobserved into our every- 
day life and filled a practical role -- with- 
out anyone thinking of the concept's ex- 
tremely significant history. 
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