The Size of Finished Calligraphy

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.

So many people tell me that they want the finished piece to be 8.5 inches x 11 inches. I have to laugh to myself. First of all – that’s typing paper sized – artwork is rarely a standard size, and calligraphy is even more complicated than other artwork. Here’s why:

With regard to the size: 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.

But a poem has a predetermined number of words on each line, and a certain number of lines. It is proportional.

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).


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

PLEASE don’t tell me you have a frame and want to fit the calligraphy into that!! 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 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!). 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!

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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