Question on proper size of matt board for drymounting : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello all,

After much reading, I am still confused about what is the best size for the matt board for dry mounting different format prints, specifically 8x10, 11x14, 16x20. What ia your advice?

Secondly, for a bevel cut overmat, should the matt cover the edge of the dry mounted photo or should there be a space thereby showing some of the undermat? Perhaps the space can be used for signature. If a space, how much?

Thanks for your aesthetic input!


-- Scott Jones (, July 09, 2001


Scott, There are many opinions on this. Personally I like to let the overlay include some of the substrate. This way, as you say, the signature can go on the substrate and if the overlay becomes stained or otherwise damaged it can be replaced without de-valuing the print.

As far as size goes: That's your call. Some images need a lot of space, others seem to want to go right to the edge. There are some practical considerations also: If your work is in the form of a portfilio that might get handled a lot, you can save space and weight by reducing the size of the borders. On the other hand, if the prints are destined for walls, this consideration is not important.

-- Bruce Wehman (, July 09, 2001.

Scott: You can't go far wrong by following Ansel Adams pretty much to the letter. See The Print, Vol. III of the Basic Series). -jeff buckels

-- Jeff Buckels (, July 09, 2001.


I agree with the above answers, although signing on the mat itself lightly with pencil is advised because you or a buyer could erase it later. You should also sign the back of the print if it's not drymounted.

I don't sign the fronts or mats for exhibition because it can look a little silly to see 30 prints each with your name on it. However, buyers often like to have a visible signature.

Your bottom mat border should be wider than your top one. Many people make these borders equal but when the print is hanging, the image itself has a visual weight which makes the bottom border seem smaller. To compensate for this optical illusion and allow the image to float up a bit, add an inch or two to the bottom. The sides should be equal to each other, but it's not critical for the sides to match the top or bottom.

If you are signing the mat on the bottom, allow even a little bit more space for the visual weight of the signature.

Cheers, Sandy

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 09, 2001.

8x10: 14x17

11x14: 16x20

16x20: 22x28

Floating mat.

Top: 45% of total vertical mat dimension Bottom: 55% of total vertical mat dimension

Modify all of the above as you see fit after cutting some and evaluating how *you* think they look.

-- Sal Santamaura (, July 09, 2001.

Scott: I can't add much to what has already been recommended, but I would like to add a tip. Once you work out the mounting dimensions you like, made templates both for the mount position and for the overlay mat. I made mine out of mat board. It really speeds up production when you are getting ready for a show. Make templates for each size print and make them the size of the mats and mounting backing. Then you line up the outside edges, draw around the inside of the template and all will line up on the finished mount. Mark the templates so you get them top to top every time. You can always do it by measurement for special mounting of some prints. It takes too much time to do the figures on every mat.


-- Doug Paramore (, July 10, 2001.

My personal preference for 8x10 is a 16x20 board, always vertical regardless of print orientation. Centered side to side, and a little off center vertically as Sandy and Sal suggested. I prefer the overmat to cover the edges of the mounted print, usually about an eighth of an inch. For whatever reason, I've only gone bigger than 8x10 a few times, so I really can't comment on any other print sizes.

-- David Munson (, July 11, 2001.


Like Jeff, I follow Ansel Adams' guidelines in The Print when mounting my 8x10s, with one significant exception in that I prefer a 14x17 mountboard (with Sal) to AA's 14x18. FWIW, the AA Gallery now mounts its 8x10 "special edition" prints on 14x17.

Doug's suggestion about using templates for mounting and cutting overmat came just at the right time, since we have just found that we are unable to make the Falcon Print Mounting Positioner do what it's advertized to do--prints turn out visibly off-center. So we're going to cut templates at 8x10, 11x14, and 14x17 and thank Doug and this forum for saving us untold aggravation.

As for aesthetics, I think the dimensions of the matting relative to the print have a lot to do with both the content of the image and the setting of the hanging. Likewise, regarding reserved border of substrate or whether to date, title, sign, etc. Picture of family member, still life, or landscape? Home, office, or gallery? I wouldn't put a wide border with signature on the photograph of a family member hanging in our kitchen, but I would consider spacious matting with reserved edge and perhaps a signature for a landscape placed in some institutional space. But this is merely a personal preference. Go with whatever looks good. Nick.

-- Nick Jones (, July 12, 2001.

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