Some thoughts about creating aesthetically pleasing print borders using the golden ratio, with a calculator for any given paper size.

Recently, I was about to print one of my pictures from Lightroom. Looking at the screen preview of the print, I was trying to figure out a pleasing border size. Of course this is a very subjective matter. In the past, I have used an approach based on Martin Bailey’s print border calculations. Basically, this approach uses 10% of the shorter side of the paper as border size, but I find this approach too technical. I also do not like to shift the print to the top, but again this is personal taste.

Golden ratio print borders

Then I remembered having read about the golden ratio (represented by the greek letter phi: φ, or 1 : 1.6180339887…) and how it can provide aesthetically pleasing proportions. So I tried to figure out if someone has already used this approach. The only related post I was able to find was about how to optimize the picture-to-border ratio. The post explains how to calculate a border size for a given image size, using the golden ratio. What I wanted was the exact opposite – to calculate the borders for a given paper size. In the end, the ratio of the paper area compared to the print area should equal the golden ratio.

Eventually I developed my own formula to calculate the border size for any given paper size and decided to make it available online so others can try it out for themselves. The header image at the top of this post is an example of how a print using golden ratio print borders would look like on ISO sized paper.

The golden ratio calculator

The form below allows you to select some predefined paper sizes, but you can also enter your own custom paper size. Just enter width and height of your paper in mm and click on “Calculate”. For your given paper size, the calculator will determine the border size you have to enter in Lightroom (or any other software). The final dimensions of the print are shown as a reference.