Binder Sizes: Dimensions & Capacities for 3-Ring Binders
Updated: Jun 18
A great-looking custom binder is the perfect way to package important documents for a client, prospect, or business partner—and one of the first major decisions you’ll run into during the design process is determining the binder’s size. That might seem simple enough, but it can be a more complicated choice than you might think—especially if you don’t already know how to measure the size of a 3-ring binder.
It’s important to note that a binder’s “size” isn’t the same thing as its dimensions. When people refer to the size of a binder, they’re usually referring to its capacity—the number of documents it can hold. A binder’s dimensions, on the other hand, determine the type of documents it can hold. You’ll need to consider both as you craft your design. This convenient guide to binder sizes will help you through the process.
Creating a design starts with establishing your initial design space—and with downloadable binder templates such as these, that’s a simple enough task. You’re generally going to want a template with dimensions slightly larger than the paper you plan to put inside of it. Each side of the binder should be at least one half inch larger than the corresponding side of the paper. The hole punches in the paper should be spaced 2 3/4 inches apart from one another.
Choose the wrong physical dimensions, and your binder won’t be able to fulfill its fundamental purpose—comfortably organizing your documents. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular sizes.
9×12 (Letter Size)
Considered by most to be the “standard” binder size, letter size binders are designed to hold 9 x 12 inch materials. They tend to be the most popular option and will work well for most printed documents related to a business’s daily dealings.
7×9 (Half Size)
Half size binders are suitable for 7 x 12 inch documents, or letter size papers that have been folded in half lengthwise.
Legal Size – Legal size binders are designed for 8.5 x 14 inch documents. Traditionally, that includes contracts, deeds, and other legal documents.
Ledger Size – One of the biggest sizes available. Large 3-ring binder sizes such as this are well-suited for horizontally-oriented 17 x 11 inch documents.
Mini – Small 3-ring binder sizes are, naturally, best suited for the very smallest of materials, such as leaflets or postcards. Most mini binders are sized to fit 5.5 x 8.5 inch documents.
Unlike a pocket folder, a binder’s capacity all comes down to the shape and size of its rings. When you plan to store a lot of documents as part of your marketing package, you’ll want to make sure you’ve selected a ring style that will hold everything you need.
There are three major ring shapes that you’re likely to see inside of a binder:
Round Ring – Just what it sounds like; a standard circular ring.
Slant D Ring – Includes one straight edge, set at an angle.
D Ring – Includes one straight edge, set perpendicular to the binder’s spine.
When people refer to “one inch” binders, they’re referring to the diameter of the binder’s rings (not the spine dimensions; this is a common misconception). D ring and slant D rings don’t technically have a “diameter” as such, but are measured using the length of the straight side.
How Many Pages Does a 1, 2, or 3 Inch Binder Hold?
Each inch of your binder rings’ diameter typically allows for between 180 and 250 sheets of 80# Text Gloss paper—but it all really depends on the shape of the rings and the weight of the paper. Fortunately, there’s a simple formula you can use to quickly calculate your binder sheet capacity. This helpful binder size chart from Company Folders, Inc. breaks it down for you.
After you’ve identified the size your binder will need to be, you’ll need to decide on the style of the binder itself (including the material it will be made from). There’s a wide variety of options at your disposal.
Vinyl Binders –Solid, durable, and professional-looking.
Paper Binders – Lightweight and highly portable.
Leather-Like Binders – Mimics the look and feel of leather without the expense.
Clear View Binders – Clear cover with removable custom inserts, so you can replace designs on-the-fly.
Entrapment Binders – Permanently seals design under a clear plastic overlay.
Plastic/Poly Binders – Extremely durable and resistant to stains.
Turned Edge Binders – Made from litho wrap, resembling a hardcover book.
Easel Binders – Includes a built-in display stand that allows the binder to function as a mini-easel.
You have to pick out a canvas before you paint a work of art, and printing a binder design works in a similar way. Once you’ve established the size and style of your binder, you can start getting into the more creative aspect of the design—colors, images, text, and so on.
Do you have questions or feedback related to this post? Please let us know in the comments below.