Custom Calligraphy, finished size


shoe is too small for the foot


Ordering calligraphy to fit into a frame is like buying shoes you like without trying them on and attempting to make them fit.


What size do you want your calligraphy to be?


So many people tell me that they want the size of the calligraphy to be 8.5 inches x 11 inches. I have to laugh to myself. First of all – that’s typing paper sized. If you take a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper and tape it to the wall you’ll see that’s pretty small. If you want to buy a  frame, you won’t find many nice choices for that size of caligraphy or artwork. Photographs are shot at a standard size (not from your phone or camera). Calligraphy is even more complicated than other artwork because it size is determined by the “shape” of the text.

A good way to determine the approximate size you want your finished calligraphy to be is by putting some painter’s tape on the wall to see what looks good in a particular space. Also, print out your text with your printer, enlarging the font until you can see it at the distance you want to view it. It’s paradoxical, but the less text you have the more enlarged it can be. The style of calligraphy you choose can also affect the finished size of calligraphy.

You can read more suggestions about how to hang your finished artwork so it looks great.


What size will my final size be?


I have a hard time telling the exact size of finished piece of calligraphy will be until it’s done. To get an approximate feel for the size, print your text in a 16-point font in Helvetica, and see where you want the line breaks. A poem has a predetermined number of words on each line, (where the line breaks) and a certain number of lines. It is proportional. Sometimes you’ll have a poem with a lot of short lines, other times the lines are longer.

The width of the finished piece depends upon how long the length of the text is per line, (for example 5 words, vs. 17 words on a line)  and the height depends upon how long (how many lines) the text is as well. When you leave borders around the writing in the artwork, it generally should be equal on both top and bottom. So now you see that calligraphy has to find it’s own size and proportion.

That being said, I can set one side – either the height or the width, and then reduce the writing to fit that size, including an equal border on the top and bottom. (I know this may sound a bit confusing… but you don’t put the words right up to the top or the bottom of the paper. The words need room around them).


Don’t try to fit calligraphy into a frame you have already purchased



(too much border on the sides- they had a frame they wanted to use… it looks terrible!)

PLEASE don’t try to fit the calligraphy into a frame you already have!! It’s like saying you like a pair of shoes that is either too large or too small. The calligraphy will look awful when it’s not balanced with the borders on the sides/top and bottom.

Another consideration is that  you don’t want to leave one or two words as an “orphan” on the next line. If there is going to be a line break, think about where the logical break in the text would fall. This is especially true in a poem!

If you have a poem with short lines, and many stanzas, it’s going to be long and narrow. It would look TERRIBLE to try and fit this in a standard size frame. Your alternative is to find a background that has decoration on one side, or even both sides. In this poem, that was long and narrow, we found the perfect background, and then put the personalization on the side instead of a centered title. See how much better it looks this way?


Lilies of the valley on wooden textured background


By scanning your calligraphy poem or text, I can shrink the size of the entire piece, but it must keep its proportions or scale, or the calligraphy will be either stretched or compressed!


Enlarging Photos or Art


Enlarging art pieces is a totally different situation. When you have a photo, it must have enough pixels, or the resolution becomes like a comic book picture as you enlarge it. (Make sure your camera is set to the “finest” resolution for your photos!). You can learn more about how to take a great photo by reading my popular post. Many of the stock photos we use are limited in size, so if you want a poster sized picture, look for a “Vector” with the keywords that describe the background you’d like. Most of them look like illustrations, not photos. But they are often wonderful choices!

enlarging photographs that are small can eventually make pixels appear like in a comic strip

big pixels

That being said, it IS possible to enlarge photography or artwork- although the smaller the original, the less you will be able tomake it bigger without significantly losing the sharp focus. You remember what an enlarged comic strip looks like? It has huge circles that form shapes. On your computer those are known as “pixels” but they are squares. 



Inspirational quote for athletes written in calligraphy with silhouetted mountain climbers.


When I have a short calligraphy quote, I am able to do a layout design that brings out the meaning in the text. So it’s more problematic for you to figure out what the approximate dimensions of a layout would be until I play around with it. Here’s an example of a short quote, but you can see how 8 words filled in 6 lines! And with enlarging some of the words, it made the quote size even larger!


Follow the directions above for using your computer and printer to see the shape of your text. Then we can come up with the right background that will fit your text.calligraphy signature make it beautiful




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