Choir Page Size

I’m trying to find the ‘standard’ size of paper for choral music, SATB, if there is such a thing. Finale says each page should be 6.5 inches by 10.5 inches. That seems extremely awkward to me, much too tall for the width or much too narrow for the height, take your pick.

Thoughts, please?

The “standard” size for SATB choral music is the “octavo” size, and it usually measures around 7 by 10 inches, depending on how much paper trimming is done.

More info here: OnMusic Dictionary - Term.

If you take a ruler to your library, you’ll find that the standard varies considerably by publisher, and across the years.

If you’re after a standard, the modern B5 size is very close (6.9 x 9.8 inches) – but make sure you use the ISO B5, not Japanese (JIS) B5, which is slightly different (7.2 x 10.1").

Otherwise, a custom 7 x 10 will suit you fine.

Note that “Choral Octavo” is different from Book Octavo (6 x 9").

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If you are self-publishing, many older singers and any choral director my age will appreciate it if you use 11" x 17" (North America ANSI Ledger) or a similar ISO size depending on your country and fold it like you would octavo.

Standard ISO/ANSI Page Sizes

If ordering choral music electronically, this will be how it is delivered and it’s up to you to resize for printing if you dare. Singers are getting spoiled by clear easily read scores and type.

Please, please, please don’t make the mistake that Augsburg Fortress made recently when they released a book where the paper was 8.5" x 11" but the lyrics were 8 point type while the staves were sized correctly. My singers threw a fit over that. The result was practically unreadable.

Dear Mike:

I’m being really dense, I’m afraid. You say to use 11 x 17, which I’ve been taught to call ‘tabloid’ size, and then to fold it “like you would octavo.” But if you were to fold 11 x 17 into eighths, each page would be 4.25 x 5.5 inches, which seems awfully small. Even folding it in fourths would be pretty small: 5.5 x 8.5. With any sort of reasonable margin, there’d be hardly any room left for music in the first case, and it would still be a tight fit in the second case. So I must be misunderstanding what you mean.

I think he means fold it once, yielding letter-size pages. That’s how octavos are folded.

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By the way, I am totally a fan of this size (8.5x11).

  1. The paper is easy to get and cheap
  2. It’s big: plenty of space for layout
  3. Fits in a three-ring binder

I don’t care about “standards” for real-world use with my choir. Use what works.

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Thanks, Dan.