The Key to Understanding Picture Frame Sizes

The Key to Understanding Picture Frame Sizes

Once you understand the basics of picture frame sizes, you will never have trouble finding the right frame size again. Whether you’re new to photography or just never understood picture frame sizes, this article will teach you the basics about picture frame sizes and help you always select the right frame size for your photo.

Picture Frame Size Basics

There are a variety of picture frame sizes, but they are typically categorized into standard and non-standard sizes. Standard sized frames, like 4×6, 5×7 or 8 x 10 picture frames, are the most common sizes that you often see sitting on a table or hanging on the wall. The term “standard frame size” refers to the typical sizes available with printed photographs.

Normally with photo frames the size refers to the size of the picture opening and not the exterior dimensions of the frame. In the U.S., picture frame sizes are always measured in inches.  In most other parts of the world they are measured in centimeters.

Picture frame sizes are always measured: width by height. If your picture measures 8 inches wide x 10 inches high you will need an 8 x 10 picture frame. If you have a photo that is a 7 inches wide by 5 inches high, you’ll need a 7×5 picture frame. Just remember that 7×5 frames can only be used horizontally while a 5×7 frame can generally be used both vertically and horizontally. The same holds true for 10×8 frames and 6×4 frames. It will be helpful to remember that 6×4, 7×5 and 10×8 frames can only be used horizontally, while 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10 picture frames can generally go either horizontal or vertical.

When selecting the right picture frame, there are two things you should consider: the photo size your picture frame holds and how the picture frame can be displayed.


1) Knowing the Actual Photo Size Your Picture Frame Holds

It is important to emphasize that the picture frame size is not the overall exterior dimension of the frame but instead the actual photo size that the frame will hold. This is an important difference and is often the cause of confusion. If you need to quickly check to see if your photo will fit, you can measure the inner opening of the front of the frame where you see the picture. However, this will always give you a smaller measurement than what the actual frame will hold. That’s because every frame has an interior edge (or lip) that holds the glass and can vary in size. So, if you want to know the exact photo size that your frame will hold, you’ll have to remove the frame back to get a more accurate measurement.

When measuring a frame correctly, you have to remove the frame backing and open it up.  There is a ledge on the inside of the frame that holds the glass and photo. All you’ll need to do is measure either 1) the area where the glass is held inside of the frame or 2) measure the actual dimensions of the entire piece of glass. By measuring either of these, this will tell you the exact size of the photo that will fit in your frame.

2) How You Picture Frame Can Be Used

One of the most important things in selecting a frame is to know whether the frame can be displayed vertically, horizontally or in both directions.  Always check this because there are some picture frame sizes that are only designed to be displayed in one direction. Most unique shaped frames, like heart shaped picture frames, can only be displayed one way. A simple way to check is to look at the hardware on the frame back and see if the frame has an easel back stand for displaying on a table or hanging hardware for a wall display.

Picture Frame Sizes

Below are some of the most common picture frame sizes.These are for single frames that only hold one photo:

2 ½ x 3 ½ – wallet sizes
3 ½ x 5
4×10 and 4×12 – panoramic picture frames
8×8, 10×10 and 12×12
8 ½ x 11

If you are looking for a frame that will hold multiple pictures, there are double picture frames, collages and triple frames  in a variety of sizes. All of these frames are available in standard sizes and come in a wide variety of styles, colors and finishes.

You can find picture frames in non-standard sizes however the selection won’t be as large and may take you a lot longer to find. If you’re shopping for a specific size, you can always check with your favorite frame retailer for help or you can always have a custom frame made.  If you’re trying to find a less expensive frame for a non-standard size and don’t want a custom made frame, you can always use a picture frame mat to hold your photo in a standard frame size.

Now that you have a better understanding of picture frame sizes, you will hopefully save time, energy and money when picking out your perfect picture frame.

Autumn Lockwood is a writer for and loves photography and picture frames. Your Picture Frames offers a large selection of unique picture frames. If you’re looking for different shaped frames like square photo frames or oval picture frames visit our site or call us toll free at 1-800-780-0699.

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