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Research Topic: Stationery Codes

By Ian Mander, 20 January 2009 (from a list compiled February 2008), updated 30 January 2009.

Question: What do all those codes on school exercise books and pads mean?

Answer: Each letter and number has its own meaning, as set out in NZS 8132:1984 - Specification for school stationery. Each code has three parts:

    • First code: Style - notebook, exercise book, pad, etc.
    • Second code: Lines - what sort of lines are drawn on the pages.
    • Third code: Size - how big the item is.

Sometimes these codes don't describe a stationery item perfectly and variations of particular items are available. Some of these are listed under Notes.

BTW, "stationary" means not moving; exercise books are "stationery". Stationery is bought from a stationer.

More information is available in the Wikipedia article New Zealand standard for school stationery.

First Code: Style

The first number indicates what style the stationery is, such as a notebook, exercise book, pad, etc.

  1. Soft cover exercise book
  2. Hard cover exercise book
  3. Soft cover notebook
  4. Hard cover notebook
  5. Soft cover index notebook
  6. Hard cover indexed notebook
  7. Lecture pad, left bound with cover(?), punched, (75 leaves?)
  8. Spiral bound
  9. Top opening pad, unpunched
  10. Top opening pad, unpunched, newsprint
  11. Top opening pad, unpunched, typing, (75 leaves?)
  12. Loose leaf binder
  13. Unknown
  14. Loose leaf refill, left bound with no front cover, punched
  15. Subject dividers, punched
  16. Journal covers
  17. Drawing block, punched
  18. Drawing wallet
  19. Drawing folio
  20. Unknown
  21. Loose leaf refill, reinforced punched

Second Code: Lines

The middle letter indicates what sort of lines the pages have - whether the book or pad is ruled (lined), squared, blank, or a mixture of ruled and blank, and what spacing the lines are.

  1. Blank
  2. Ruled 7mm
  3. Blank, cartridge paper (110gsm)
  4. Fouble ledger
  5. Quad 7mm
  6. Ruled 12mm
  7. Ruled 25mm
  8. Quad 10mm
  9. Ruled 9mm
  10. Quad 5mm
  11. Quad 2mm + 10mm
  12. Science - one page ruled 7mm (ruled 9mm versions exist), one page blank
  13. Music staves
  14. Natural manila (eg, drawing wallets)
  15. Unused
  16. Accounting - ledger, ruled 7mm
  17. Accounting - journal, 2 column analysis, ruled 7mm
  18. Accounting - treble cash, 3 column analysis, ruled 7mm
  19. Accounting - 8 column analysis, ruled 7mm
  20. Accounting - 14 column analysis, ruled 7mm
  21. Top 1/3 blank, bottom 2/3 ruled 12mm
  22. Unruled bank paper (light weight)
  23. Unruled bond paper (80gsm)
  24. Trunkboard
  25. Coverboard
  26. Coloured manila (eg, subject dividers)

Third Code: Size

The last number indicates the size of the item.

  1. Notebook bound at left
         90mm x 155mm (soft cover)
         100mm x 165mm (soft cover indexed)
         105mm x 170mm (indexed - soft cover or hard cover)
  2. 125mm x 202mm
  3. Notebook bound at top, 100mm x 165-170mm
  4. Small exercise book, 180mm x 230mm
  5. Standard exercise book, 205mm x 255mm
  6. F4, 210mm x 330mm (approximately foolscap folio size)
  7. A5, 148.5mm x 210mm
  8. A4, 210mm x 297mm
  9. A3, 420mm x 297mm
  10. A2, 594mm x 420mm


  • The only difference I've found between 7B8 and 14B8 appears to be the cover and the number of leaves.
  • A version of 1E5 (quad 7mm exercise book) is available with pale pink margins at the left and middle of each page.
  • With paper weights, the abbreviation gsm is normally used for "grams per square metre" instead of the technically correct g/m2.


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