Print matting question : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Does anyone know of a standard/accepted rule or ratio for the amount of mat that should extend beyond the edge of the print to the frame? I usually exhibit 16x20 and 20x24 prints.

-- Tim Schroll (, January 29, 2001


Back when I was matting things, I figured the area of the visible mat should equal that of the print. So an 8x10 print would go in a mat having about 11.5 x14 outside dimensions. I also figured that the top and sides of the mat should be of equal width, while the bottom was slightly wider. A friend set up a quadratic equation into which I plugged a lot of possible image dimensions, and had a computer crank out the mat sizes. This was in the days of hollerith cards, by the way. After a day of card-punching, I got a printout about 3/4 inch thick, which I used a few times. Of course, most photos are of three or four standard sizes, so you could calculate it by hand I imagine. If you're interested, I'll try to find the equation. I expect the numbers could be changed to give any desired ratio of mat size to image area.

-- Keith Nichols (, January 29, 2001.

Up until about a month ago I mounted (about 11x14) prints to 16x20 which gave me about 2 to 2 1/2 inches around the window mat border. But I printed a smaller image for a friend recently that was about 9x11. I mounted it to a 16x20 and really liked the look. I'm in the process of reprinting a lot of my portfolio for a show and will be printing in the 9x11 to 10x12 range in 16x20's. I think it really depends on your style.

-- doug mcfarland (, January 29, 2001.

I am restricted in print size by the constraints of a small dark room. Also, the film format dictates it also. I shoot a lot of 8x10 and that is all contact printed. I really like how the 16x20 mat looks when a smaller image is shown. So, I think the above idea has some merit.

-- Lee Carmichael (, January 30, 2001.

I believe that for an 8x10 print, you would want at least 2" on all sides. I don't think there is such a thing as too big a mat border. On the other hand, too little of a mat border would not look right. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules. Go with what looks right to you. Christmas-time, I framed out an 8x12 print in a 16x20 frame. The amount of mat just looked right to me for that particular print and frame.

-- Johnny Motown (, February 04, 2001.

I don't like huge mats with little prints, especially when the borders (top and bottom) are really uneven. YMMV!

-- Nigel Smith (, February 05, 2001.

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