• Before machine-made paper, "vatmen" made paper by hand. The average vatman could comfortably stretch his arms about 44 inches. So the molds were made to be 44 inches wide and 17 inches tall (why 17", I've got no info on this one.) The resulting 44" x 17" sheets were then cut into eight equal sheets, all 8.5" x 11". The US and Canada are the only industrial nations still using this size. (Thank you Christian Science Monitor for this fascinating trivia.)

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