Units of paper quantity

Various measures of paper quantity have been and are in use. Writing paper measurements
25 sheets = 1 quire
500 sheets = 20 quires = 1 ream
1,000 sheets = 40 quires = 2 reams = 1 bundle
5,000 sheets = 200 quires = 10 reams = 5 bundles = 1 bale 'Short' paper measurements
24 sheets = 1 'short' quire
480 sheets = 20 'short' quires = 1 'short' ream
960 sheets = 40 'short' quires = 2 'short' reams = 1 'short' bundle
4,800 sheets = 200 'short' quires = 10 'short' reams = 5 'short' bundles = 1 'short' bale Posters and printing measurements
516 sheets (= 21½ 'short' quires) = 1 printer's ream
1,032 sheets = 2 printer's reams = 1 printer's bundle
5,070 sheets = 5 printer's bundles = 1 printer's bale


A quire of paper is used as a measure of paper quantity. The usual meaning today is a set of 24 or 25 sheets of paper of the same size and quality. It might also be thought of as 1/20 of a ream.

Historically, it has had other meanings:

A quire was originally an unfolded stack of 4 sheets of vellum or parchment, which (depending on the method used) would form an 8- or 16-page booklet when stitched and folded. Back then, the terms quaternion or quaternum were more commonly used.

The current word "quire" was derived when quaternum was shortened to "quair" or "guaer" in common usage. Afterwards, when bookmaking switched to using paper and it became possible to easily stitch 5 to 7 sheets at a time, the association of "quaire" with "four" was quickly lost.

It also became the name for any booklet small enough to be made from a single quire of paper. Simon Winchester, in The Surgeon of Crowthorne, cites a specific number, defining quire as "a booklet eight pages thick."

In blankbook binding, quire is a term indicating 80 pages.


A ream of paper is a quantity of sheets of the same size and quality. Formerly it was 480 sheets, 20 quires, for common sizes such as letter-size paper (8½ × 11 in.). A printer's ream was 516 sheets, perhaps to allow for wastage. As part of international standardization, this quantity was changed to 500 sheets. The old value of 480 sheets is now known as a short ream. The ream is probably the most widely available size for personal or household use, as sold at retail vendors for example.


A paper bale is a quantity of sheets of paper, currently standardized as 5,000 sheets. A bale consists of 10 reams or 200 quires.

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