European pillow shams, usually called "euro shams," are square in shape and usually measure 26" x 26" or larger, according to Glamour magazine. Euro shams are designed to match the fabric of the bedspread or comforter and are normally placed against the headboard, behind standard bed pillows.
Euro shams are usually sold separately from the pillow they are intended to cover. Makelyhome.com reports that the best fitting pillow insert for a Euro sham is one that is slightly larger than the sham itself. They recommend using a 28" x 28" feather or down pillow with a 26" x 26" sham. This type of pillow fills in the corners of the Euro sham correctly and gives a prettier effect than using a 26" x 26" polyester pillow.
Euro shams are intended to add color and texture to the bed. They are made for decorative purposes only and are not intended for sleeping. Standard and king size pillow shams are used to cover sleeping pillows. A typical standard sham is 20" x 26", and a king sham is 20" x 36." Decorative throw pillows are often placed in front of the sleeping pillows for a fully dressed bed. Throw pillows are smaller and often come in sizes such as 18" x 18" or 20" x 20."