Printing to Fit for Matting


Today’s Question: I’d like to print the photo to fit in a frame that has a 2″ matting all around. I don’t want to clip any of the photo, and I don’t want any of the blank border of the print to show once mounted in the frame with a 2″ matting. How do I account for the output photo size being mounted in a frame with matting?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general, you just need to make sure that there is some blank paper around the edge of the actual image printed on the page, to allow for the matting of the print. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is difficult to add matting accurately right up to the edge of the actual image area, so you’re going to need to allow for at least a tiny bit of cropping caused by the matting.

More Detail: When matting a photographic print, the print is attached to the mat board. This requires that there is “extra” paper around the edge of the printed photo. In general, about half an inch of space all the way around the print will be adequate. You can achieve this “extra” space by printing the image at the size intended, but doing so on a larger sheet of paper. For example, you could print a 11”x17” image on a 13”x19” sheet of paper.

However, it is important to keep in mind that you should expect the mat board to cover at least a tiny portion of the outside edge of the printed photo. A skilled mat cutter can minimize the amount of image that gets cropped in this process, but it is very difficult to have a cut mat edge perfectly follow the edge of the printed image on the page.

An alternative, such as you might use when a signature is on the paper area outside the printed photo, would be to “float” the image within the mat. In other words, you could have the mat cut larger than the actual printed photo area, to leave some white space.

If your aim is to have minimal cropping of the photo, you may want to print the photo slightly larger (about a quarter of an inch wider and taller) than the intended image area size within the mat. Alternatively, you could simply print to the intended size, and then ask the mat cutter to cut a custom mat that matches the image size as closely as possible with minimal cropping.