Americana: Paper Chase

The Government's Permanent Conference on Printing decreed in 1921 that, to save money, federal stationery should measure 8 in. by 10½ in., in contrast to the private-industry standard of 8½ in. by 11 in. Bureaucrats have been having second thoughts about the matter ever since.

The Bureau of the Budget said in 1957 that the savings from switching to a uniform size (i.e., 8½ by 11) would be "marginal." A 1970 study by the Bureau of Standards assessed what it called "paper sizes annoyance factors." A subsequent study by the Bureau of Standards argued...

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