Print sizes and measurements

paper-sizesPaying attention to composition is important when taking a photo. When composing a shot, you need to allow for the fact that the composition may have to be altered when a photo is printed.

Prior to printing, cropping may be necessary so it fist correctly on standard sized photo paper. Cropping simply means trimming off the edges of a photo. Careful cropping can enhance the overall composition of the image.

Why to crop your own photos

Make the decision yourself about how an image is be cropped. Otherwise the edges of photos may be arbitrarily eliminated by your printer or a photo developer.

Some of the most common sizes for printing digital images include:

Print size in inches (millimeters)

3 x 5″ (9cm x 12cm)

3½ × 5″ (89 × 127mm)

4×5″ (102 x 127mm)

3×5″ (76 x 127mm)

4 x 6″ (102 × 152mm) – This is the most commonly used print size by U.S. and Canadian consumers.

4 1/2  x 6″  – size matches the 4:3 aspect ratio found on most Point & Shoot digital cameras.

5 x 7″ (127 × 178mm)

6 × 8″ (152 × 203mm)

8 x 10″ (203 × 254mm)

10 × 15″ (254 × 381mm)

11 × 14″ (279 × 356mm)

8 x 12″ (203 × 305mm)

16 x 20″ (41cm x 51 cm)

20 x 30″ (51cm x 76cm)

10 x 15″ (254 × 381mm)

A2 – 16.54 x 23.36″ (420 x 594mm)

A3 – 11.69 x 16.54″ (297 x 420mm)

A4 – 8.27 x 11.69″ (210 x 297mm)

Some photo labs and online printing service make poster sized prints as large as 30×40.”

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15 Responses

  1. X9 Printing says:

    I don’t see any square sizes. These are becoming more popular with places like Ikea doing blank square frames.

    We print posters for people and will do 40″ on the shortest side. I thought I would mention it, as you have a 30″ x 40″ listed. Our panorama limit is 40″ x 200″. Which gives a 1:5 ratio, even though some panoramas are 1:10. Still 200″ is pretty long.

    This is a nice article and well worth the time taken to read and be informed.

  2. Gail Bjork says:

    Hank, you need to crop the photo before having it printed. Don’t let a machine (or person) decide for you. However you may not be able to get ‘the whole thing,” unless you want white borders on the print.. In Photoshop you can set the exact size by selecting the crop tool and setting the width and height in inches. For high quality prints, set the resolution to 200 or 300 pixels/inch.

    Otherwise you will have to enlarge your photo almost double and it may become pixelated. You can make a blank document the size you want and or drag n drop your photo onto the blank document. Use image>resize>scale to resize to fit the document, making sure to constrain the proportions so there is no distortion. Many people use a program called Qimage when enlarging photos to help preserve image quality.

  3. Hank says:

    Hey guys, I want to print my digital photo “full size” on poster size.
    Last night I had a 16″ x 20″ made and it was cropped by the machine and I lost most of the photo. The “full size” is 7″ x 10.25″
    What size can I have the photoshop make and not lose the edges of the original digital image? I want the whole thing. Thanks, Hank.

  4. Gail Bjork says:

    Alysha, it could be a cropping issue but it could also be a printer set-up issue. Make sure you select the correct paper size and type in the printer software. 5×3.5″ is not a standard size paper that you can buy, so you may have to print them two-up on larger sized paper, then trim the paper. Sometimes you can crop images through the printer software before printing. Check the manual for specifics.

  5. alysha says:

    I bought picture frames that house 5″x3.5″. I have tried inputing this to print them in that size but they always come out too big. Is this a cropping issue?

  6. Kobus Buys says:

    No But still on your site A3 is 420×594 and on wiki it says A2
    and your 594 x 841 says A2 and on wiki it says A1

  7. Gail Bjork says:

    Kobus, thanks for pointing this out. The information has been updated to millimeters from centimeters.

  8. Kobus Buys says:

    According to Wiki, 

    A1
    594 × 841 and A2

    A2
    420 × 594 and not A3

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A4_paper_size#The_A_series

    So what is it now

  9. Gail Bjork says:

    Thanks Richard. The size has been added to the list.

  10. Richard Patton says:

    16 x 20 used to be a popular size for analog prints.  I don’t know if it still is, but I didn’t see it on your list.

  11. Rhiannon says:

    Thank you this was very helpful to me!

  12. Gail Bjork says:

    Thanks. Will update the information, though this was never intended to be a complete list. Here’s more information on standard photographic print sizes.

  13. tex says:

    between 10×15 and 20×30, you are missing a few other popular sizes. e.g. 11×14 et al. 

  1. October 16, 2010

    […] It’s important to start with a good shot so the viewer’s eye is led to the correct focal points of your image. Try to crop to traditional print sizes. […]

  2. March 23, 2012

    […] It’s important to start with a good shot so the viewer’s eye is led to the correct focal points of your image. Try to crop to traditional print sizes. […]