In the days of formal dinners, napkins were 22 inches to 24 inches square, and this large size is also useful when diners will be using their laps as tables. Ordinary dinner napkins are 16″ to 18″ square, or similarly sized rectangles.
Cocktail napkins are much smaller: perhaps 10″ to 12″ square. Paper cocktail napkins are usually in or below the smaller end of this range, often 9½ inches square.
For the benefit of institutional users, the ASTM divides paper napkins into three classes:
|Type||Area||Shortest dimension, unfolded|
|Cocktail||100 sq. inches or less||5 11⁄16|
|Luncheon||100–183 sq. in.||9½|
|Dinner||over 183 sq. in.||11⅜|
The weight of the paper in paper napkins is the weight in pounds of 500 sheets 24 inches by 36 inches. The ASTM specification sets the following weights:
in pounds of
24″ by 36″
|1 ply||light weight||11.9 or less|
|heavy||at least 14.0|
|2 ply||at least 19.0|
|3 ply||at least 28.5|
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Last revised: 20 December 2002.