Choosing the right tablet size


Size = Active Area Size. The way we measure a tablets size is NOT the physical size of the device. Instead we measure the diagonal of the ACTIVE AREA of the tablet. The ACTIVE AREA is the region on the surface of the tablet that is responsive to the tablet's EMR pen. Learn more: Active area & Active area size

Companion Video

My size categories

I've given convenient labels ("small", "medium", "large") to drawing tablets. This will make it easier to talk about their sizes. These categories are based off the standard sizes that Wacom uses. The sizes here are approximate. For each category a typical value is provided, and also a range of values.

Size categoryPen tabletPen display


Typical: 7" Range: 6" to 9"

Typical: 13" Range: 11" to 14"


Typical: 11" Range: 10" to 13"

Typical: 16" Range: 15" to 19"


Typical: 15" Range: 14" to 19"

Typical: 24" Range: 20" to 29"


Typical: 23" Range: 20" to29"

Typical: 32" Range: 30" to 33"

Manufacturer size categories

Manufactures also sometimes provide size categories in the names of their pen tablets. But don't trust the size categories - always calculate the actual diagonal distance when comparing sizes.

Here's are some great examples:

  • The XP-Deco L is much closer in size to a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium than the Intuos Pro Large.

  • Inspiroy 2L is sort of in-between a medium and large size.

Tablet and manufactrMy size categoryActive areaDiagonal

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium (PTH-660)




XP-Pen Deco L




Inspiroy 2 L

MEDIUM (high end of medium)



Wacom Intuos Pro Large






Here's what you should consider in your choice

  • What is your natural drawing style? some people draw a lot from the wrist and others use much larger motions driven from their elbows and shoulders

  • Do you have enough space on your desk?

  • Do you intend to be mobile and use the tablet in different locations?

Size recommendations

Pen tabletPen display

Starter tablet

MEDIUM (11")

SMALL (7") if budget is a constraint

MEDIUM (16")

SMALL (13") if budget is a constraint

Drawing, Sketching, Painting

MEDIUM (11")

LARGE (15") if you know you need it

MEDIUM (16")

LARGE (24") if you know you need it

Photo Editing

SMALL (7") is enough


Note taking (more here: Taking notes with drawing tablets)

MEDIUM (11") (I don't recommend pen tablets for note taking)

SMALL (13") (I don't recommend pen displays for note taking)

Mouse replacement (More here: Using a drawing tablet instead of a mouse)

SMALL (7")


For children

SMALL (7")

SMALL (13")

What I prefer and use

LARGE (15")

22" - on the low end of LARGE

Pen tablets size

  • Small (7") pen tablets are good for scenarios where the focus is less on creating strokes. For example, if you need to simply use a tablet as a replacement for a mouse, then a small tablet will work fine. One creative task that works great with small tablets in photo editing - since it doesn't typically require "drawing". Most people who are drawing would find using a small tablet, to feel very "cramped".

  • Medium (11") pen tablets are the best combination of size, cost, and ergonomics for most people interested in drawing tablets and is my standard recommendation. Medium tablets are the minimum size I would recommend for anyone who is interested in drawing, sketching, painting, or any creative task that requires drawing with strokes.

  • Large (15") pen tablets are these days the largest size available. They are popular for some artists. They are large enough though that you will have to adapt to using them. More here: Using large pen tablets.

  • Extra large (23") pen tablets are no longer produced but for some users they are ideal but require quite a bit of adjustment to use. More here: Using Extra-large pen tablets.

Pen tablet size vs monitor size

If you have a pen tablet (which does not have a screen), then you use it with a monitor. You should consider the relationship between these two sizes. I find that that relationship influences how it feels to draw on the pen tablet. A much more detailed explanation is here: Matching pen tablet size to monitor size.

Pen display size

  • SMALL (13") pen displays may be good choices for children.

  • If you are drawing the minimum size I would recommend is MEDIUM (16"), though many people work very effectively with SMALL pen displays.

  • LARGE (24") are great but they do occupy a lot of space so ensure you have a desk that is big enough.

  • I think the best balance is around 20" to 22" - these provide enough space to draw on without being to cumbersome, occupying too much space on a desk, or being difficult to move.

Impact of pen display size

  • Anti-glare sparkle - For a given anti-glare treatment, the higher the pixels-per-inch of the display, the more anti-glare sparkle you will notice. For example using the same anti-glare treatment a 4K 24" display will show less AG sparkle, than a 4K 16" display.

In relation to paper size

Some of you like to think of a tablet size relative standard papers sizes. The tablet below shows the paper sizes with their diagonal size and you can see how specific paper size matches my standard tablet sizes

Standard tablet sizeNearest ISO paperNearest US paper

Pen Tablet Small (7")

ISO A6 (7.1")


Pen Tablet Medium (11")

ISO A5 (10.1")

US Letter (13.9")

Pen Tablet Large (16")

ISO A4 (14.3")

US Legal (16.4")

Pen Display Small (13")

ISO A4 (14.3")

US Letter (13.9")

Pen Display Medium (16")

ISO A4 (14.3")

US Legal (16.4")

Pen Display Large (24")

ISO A3 (20.2")



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