Guide to Image & Paper Sizes – What works best for framing?
You have purchased a wonderful photo printer that can create beautiful images – now you must decide what size image you’d like to print and what size paper to print it on. The sizing depends on what you intend to do with the finished print. Let’s look at some options – and the trade-offs – for printing images on various paper sizes. Keep in mind that if you plan to sell your images, many customers prefer that the external mat size is a standard picture frame size such as 11x14, 16x20, or 18x24 so they are not forced into a custom frame shop.
13x19 Printer Paper – Framing Options
Aside from roll or special panoramic sheet paper, the largest common paper size is 13x19 inches. The simplest option is to use the entire sheet and print a 13x19 image. If you have an SLR, which normally has an image aspect ratio of 3:2, this is a convenient size because it requires almost no cropping. An un-cropped 3:2 image printed on 13x19 paper will only lose one-half inch of the image. (In other words, the un-cropped image would measure 13x19.5 inches.)
Another excellent image size for 13x19 paper is 12x18. This size creates its own border, which is advantageous because some printers are not able to print full borderless on all papers. The borders on the paper can be used for the artist’s signature, or as a mounting aid utilizing photo corners. (The corners can be concealed with a mat.)
The 13x19 and 12x18 are not standard picture frame sizes. However, some specialty companies such as Frame Destination Inc. do offer inexpensive, ready-made frames in these sizes. These frames are inexpensive for two reasons: They do not contain a mat and they use less expensive non-archival components. Another advantage to these frames is that they typically require no mounting. You simply slip the paper into the frame and you’re done. In the case of the 13x19 picture frame, you don’t even need to trim the paper.
Some photographers prefer using a mat board with their prints. Although mat boards with 12x18 and 13x19 openings are is not readily available, specialty companies like Frame Destination Inc. offer mats with openings in these sizes. An 18x24 standard frame size with mat is ideal for these image sizes. With the 18x24 the 12x18 will have an even three-inch mat border surrounding the image, and the 13x19 will have an even 2.5 inch mat border.
Compact cameras such as Canon PowerShot and the Nikon Coolpix, and SLRs such as the Olympus E-400 use the 4:3 aspect ratio size, which is perfect for 12x16 prints. Although this picture frame size is not nearly as common as 11x14 or 16x20, it is still a standard frame size.
Although a 10x15 print would normally be done on smaller paper, think BIG and print a 10x15 centered image onto 13x19 paper. You get free a white border, and if placed in a 13x19 frame, the result will be a 1.5-inch top and bottom border, and two-inch side border. A 9x15 image can also be printed onto 13x19 paper, and with a little cropping you can achieve an even two-inch border surrounding the image.
Summary of Options for 13x19 Paper
Paper Size: 13x19
Standard Frame Sizes: 12x16
Non-standard frame Sizes: 12x18, 13x19
Standard Matted Frame Size: 18x24
Recommended Image Sizes: 10x15, 12x16, 12x18, 13x19
17x22 Printer Paper – Framing Options
17x22 is a new common paper size for 17-inch printers such as Epson Stylus Pro 3800 and Canon iPF5000. This is ideal for 16x20 images, which have an infinite selection of matted and un-matted frames. Unfortunately, 16x20 is neither a 3:2 nor 4:3 ratio; 16x24 is the 3:2 ratio but can only be printed on 17-inch roll paper.
Summary of Options for 17x22
Paper Size: 17x22
Standard Frame Sizes: 16x20
Non-standard frame Sizes: 17x22
Standard Matted Frame Size: 20x24, 22x28
Recommended Image Sizes: 16x20, 17x22
11x17 and 11x16.5 Printer Paper – Framing Options
These paper sizes are good choices for 3:2 and 4:3 aspect ratio images. The 11x17 is close to the 3:2 image ratio. It can be matted to the standard 18x24 frame size, which creates an even 3.5-inch border around the image. Another interesting option with these two paper sizes is to print an image as 6x9 and then crop the paper to fit in an 11x14 picture frame. The result will be an even 2.5-inch white paper border surrounding the image.
Summary of Options for 11x17 and 11x16.5 Paper
Paper Size: 11x17, 11x16.5
Standard Frame Sizes: 11x14, 9x12
Non-standard frame Sizes: 11x17
Standard Matted Frame Size: 16x20, 20x24
Recommended Image Sizes: 6x9, 8x12, 9x12, 10x13, 10x15, 11x14, 11x17
8.5x11 Printer Paper – Framing Options
Although 8x10 paper is available, 8.5x11 is a common paper size. Most 8.5x11 frames are designed for certificates rather that photos, although some specialty frame shops do offer 8.5x11 picture frames.
Summary of Options for 8.5x11 Paper
Paper Size: 8.5x11
Standard Frame Sizes: 8x10, 8.5x11
Non-standard frame Sizes: 8.5x11 (non-certificate frames less common)
Standard Matted Frame Size: 9x12, 11x14, 16x20
Recommended Image Sizes: 6x9, 8x10, 8.5x11
Glossary of Terms
Standard Frame Size - a picture frame size that is readily available in most retail stores carrying picture frames.
Non-Standard Frame Size - a picture frame size that is not available in most retail stores, but can be found at specialty picture framing stores like Frame Destination, Inc. Frame selection for this size will be limited in comparison to standard frame sizes.
Standard Matted Frame Size – a picture frame size that uses a picture frame mat. The borders of the mat combined with the image size result in a standard picture frame size. (For example, 12x18 image with three-inch mat border along the top, sides and bottom of the image results in an 18x24 inch picture frame size.)
Aspect ratio - ratio of the width of the image to the height of the image.
Due to customer demand (and an example of us listening to our customers), Frame Destination has returned two sizes that were dropped when we switched to the new website:
12.5x15 frame size for 8.5x11 and 17x23 frame size for 13x19 images.
Frame Destination added lots of new sizes. We now have more than 80 mat and 60 frame sizes. You can find a summary of all sizes (including the new ones) on this page: