Custom Framing Diplomas

Many of us want to frame our diplomas, either to present credentials in our office or for display at home. Fortunately, custom framing a diploma is one of the most straightforward projects, so it’s a great place to start if you’ve never framed before.

There are a few different design considerations. Casual settings, such as homes and home offices, invite more fun. Maybe you’d like the frame or mat to reflect your school’s colors? In more traditional settings, like law or medical offices, most people take the conservative approach and go with neutral materials. Then there are the familiar questions every framing project raises: one mat or two? A simple frame or something more ornate?

Here, we’ve narrowed the choices for mats and frames to neutral, classic options. On the left we have a simple black frame with two mats; the top is white and the slim-reveal bottom mat is black. This is a failsafe. Every diploma will look great with this mat design. On the upper right, we have blue and white mats with a gold frame (school colors). Both of these are classic, both will make a professional presentation. In the end, we decided to keep it very versatile, so we chose the treatment on the left. If you're a little lost on which frames are best for diplomas, check out our diploma frame page:

selection of frames and mats

Once the aesthetic decisions have been made, it’s time to put together the frame package. If using a double mat, apply some ATG tape to the bottom mat and carefully secure the top mat to the bottom mat.

atg tape applied to the bottom mat

Make sure the mats are aligned properly before pressing down firmly.
aligning mats

Next, put the mounting board down and place the diploma on top of the mounting board. Move the diploma and mats around until everything is aligned properly and the mat overlaps the diploma enough to hold it securely and conceal the diploma’s edges on every side.

align mats on diploma

Some adjusting may be necessary to get it just right.
move items around until aligned

Once everything is aligned, add a little weight to the diploma so when you remove the mats, the diploma doesn’t move. Here, we used little bean bags to secure the diploma in place.

paper weights added to diploma

Remove the mats and set aside. Now, hinge the diploma to the mounting board using a T-hinge. Note: if you’re a particular purist about conservation framing, you could use rice paper hinges with wheat starch glue. We used an archival self-adhesive hinging tape.

To create a t-hinge, take a piece of hinging tape and place it, adhesive side up, behind the diploma with a portion of the tape sticking out above the diploma. Next, take another piece of tape and place it, adhesive side down, horizontally, over the first piece of tape. This makes the hinge and holds the diploma in place. Repeat on the other side for the second hinge.


Now, add the mats back onto the diploma and check for dust. When the mats and diploma are clean, peel off one side of the protective paper on the acrylic and place the exposed side down on the art stack. (Framing lingo: An “art stack” is just the stack of everything that’s in the frame, in this case mounting board, diploma, mats—and soon the acrylic itself.)

peel paper from acrylic

Peel the second piece of protective paper off the acrylic, being careful not to lift up on the acrylic, which can cause dust to be sucked between it and the art stack.

peel paper from front of acrylic

Flip the art stack over, face down, into the back of a wood picture frame. If using a metal frame, you will need to assemble three sides of the frame first, and then slide the artwork into the channel and finish assembling.

insert stack into back of frame

For wood frames, use a point driver or the included spring clips to secure the art stack in the frame. For metal frames, clips are provided.

use a point driver to secure contents

And there you have it!

finished diploma

At this point, you can add a dust cover to your frame if you like, then hang. (To learn how to secure a dust cover and hanging hardware, see this post.)

As always, we would love to hear from you. If you have, questions contact us at 800.537.0944 or send an email to

If you have a similar DIY picture framing project, tell us about it here. Have you framed a document? If so, how did you attach it to the mounting board? Maybe you’ve framed a marriage license or adoption certificate. These types of documents make great mementos which framing both celebrates and preserves. They also lend themselves to having fun and making very personal design choices. We’d love to see photos of your project.

AubreyK | 4/29/2014 12:20:34 PM | 1 comments
Karl Whitmer
awesome blog post on how to give life to work that seems difficult to match without looking too normal.
4/29/2014 3:20:57 PM

About this blog

Mike Cromly
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, with custom frame shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35+ years with the company. A natural teacher, he loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there. Working in the plant and improving our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man and Ohio State Buckeye fan. Mike's Twitter
For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs - A Good Frame of Mind or At Your Service

Subscribe RSS Feed