Framing Your Diploma

A diploma marks an important milestone in one’s life. This piece of paper speaks of hard work and your quest for knowledge. What’s more, for those who earned it in college or university, it will be proof of thousands of dollars’ worth of educational expense, sleepless nights studying or finishing that paper, and your sweat and tears. A diploma should be displayed and placed in a position of honor. Not only does this mark your achievement, it also protects the fragile paper from damage.

Diplomas are usually made of parchment paper. Dust and grime can cause smudges that may be hard to remove. Over time, the paper may also be prone to cracking and brittleness due to its exposure to light and moisture. Improper handling can also cause tearing. The use of “normal” paper and backing material can also cause discoloration and fading because the acid will seep in from the paper products.

Here are some tips to preserve and display your diploma:

  • Minimize exposure to extreme temperature and to humidity. In short, keep away from places that are damp, too hot or cold. Do not hang the framed diploma near the fireplace or an air-conditioning vent. Instead, place it on a wall with minimal exposure to direct sunlight. As an added level of protection, you can fit the frame with UV-protective glass. When storing, place in a cardboard box rather than a plastic one. Also, keep away from the attic or the basement.
  • Choose a high level of archival material. After all the expense involved in obtaining your diploma, you should not scrimp on a low-quality picture frame. Choose a picture frame that comes with archival materials that minimizes damage due to the presence of acid and lignin. The same goes for matting paper, which also serves to prevent the diploma from touching the glass.
  • Choose a frame style that highlights the document and that will complement the room. A classic diploma will look good on either a vintage picture frame or a more contemporary one. Since the parchment paper is in ecru, a golden or dark brown frame in a classic design will work well. You can also choose to place the diploma in a gold or silver picture frame. Be sure to measure the diploma properly so that you can order the right-sized frame.
  • Be sure to prepare the document prior to framing. Gently brush the document to get rid of dust. If the diploma has been rolled up, flatten it by placing books that are wide enough to cover the surface of the diploma. Of course, be sure that the books you use are clean and free from dust.
  • -Use the right framing technique. When opening up the framing package, you should make sure that the glass is clean and free from stray fibers or dust. As much as possible do not remove the glass from the frame. To do this, lay the frame face down and leave the glass inside after you have removed the backing. Touching the glass can leave traces of oil from your fingers onto the surface. You can also gently wipe the inside glass with a piece of flannel cloth. Make sure that the diploma is centered and that is properly mounted with acid-free tape. When mounting the diploma, only the top is attached with the tape. Do not tape the sides or the bottom. Paper can expand or contract depending on the temperature. Thus, using the “hinging method” will prevent creases caused by the expansion or contraction of the paper. Secure the mounting board by using the locking mechanism at the back.
  • Consider using a shadow box frame as another display option. If you have medals or other mementos you want to display with the diploma, you can use a shadow box frame which allows a certain depth to make way for the medal or other three-dimensional object. There are also specially-designed frames that have special slots for items such as a medal.
30th May 2015 Eric Morgan

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