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Thoughts and Tips for Framing Diplomas

By David Lantrip, Industry Expert

Graduation season is coming up soon, and whether it’s virtual or if graduates walk the stage, there are diplomas to be framed. Even if your customer graduated years ago (and given custom framing demographics, odds are she is a college graduate) current graduations may serve as a reminder that she needs to get her diploma framed.



Diplomas are different from other artwork we frame for two reasons. First, it is the most expensive thing most people are ever likely to frame. Second, most of them are rather dull. That’s not an insult; there is just so much you can do with cream paper and black printing. With those things in mind, here are some tips for framing diplomas, from a design standpoint and a technical standpoint.





  • Most customers want a classic look for their diplomas. Classic doesn’t have to mean boring though. Liven up traditional finishes with interesting profiles. Even a “basic black” finish is more interesting with some detailing or undertones in its finish.
  • Schools colors are a popular choice in matting, but some color combinations can be distracting on what is basically black-and-white art. Present a more neutral top mat with school colors as the smaller accents, or ruled lines or marbled paper panels. They will certainly age better.
  • Consider your customer’s degree. A lawyer or accountant is likely to want a classic design. An architect may be attracted to very simple, clean lines. If your customer has a degree in a creative field, he or she may be open to more creative, less traditional designs. Don’t hold back.
  • If your customer is a professional such as a doctor or lawyer, there may be certifications that go along with the diploma, and new ones are added with new qualifications. Matching the framing years later can be a challenge as mats and mouldings are discontinued. Instead of matching everything exactly, suggest a theme. For instance, wood with red tones, cream or white mats to match the paper and a black accent. With these criteria, many different frame and mat combinations can be used that all coordinate, and future frames can easily be designed to fit in.





  • Framing a tassel along with a diploma is a popular option, but keeping them under control can be a challenge. Optium Museum Acrylic® not only offers 99% UV protection with virtually no reflections, it holds less static than even glass. It’s a great way to avoid wayward strands.
  • If the diploma is printed on parchment it may come with instructions for wet mounting. Ignore them. The process is permanent and high-risk. Mount the diploma with edge strips, a platform mount or your favorite non-invasive, non-permanent mounting method. And no matter how you mount them, avoid heat!
  • Real parchment is rarely used for diplomas, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between it and some paper. Parchment will have a slightly oily or waxy feel, and will show small pores when held up to a bright light.
  • Avoid dry mounting diplomas. The pressure in the press can crush embossed seals, and signatures or additions to the diploma such as a cum laude designation may be applied with a thermal process, and will be damaged by heat.
  • Dark mats, especially in fabric, can be a rich and dramatic choice for diplomas, but they can enhance reflections under glass. Museum Glass® is the perfect choice to allow the best display of your customer’s hard-earned diploma with no distracting reflections.



Even if you don’t have a lot of graduates walking in through your doors, you can still reach them if you promote diploma framing as a gift idea. A gift certificate is a great present from a proud parent or grandparent, so be sure to promote them on your website, through social media and in your store.

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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