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How To and Why To Crop Photos for Page Layout


Crop to remove background, change focus

Cropping a busy background and even people changes the focus of an image.

Photo © J. Bear
It is seldom that you'll find a photograph that is ready to use in your page layout without some sort of editing. One basic way to modify images is to crop them — remove some part of the image. Cropping changes the appearance of photographs and clip art in order to better fit the layout, make a statement, or improve the overall appearance of the subject matter.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: A few minutes to an hour to find the desired cropping technique.

Here's How:

  1. Crop the background.
    Remove busy or unnecessary background clutter that detracts from or draws attention away from the main subject. If desired, replace the background with another image, objects, or colors.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping photos to remove unwanted background.

  2. Crop to show what's important.
    Change the focus of the photograph or emphasize specific portions of an image by cropping out less important or less desirable people or objects.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping to focus on portion of image.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping to change distance to subject.

  3. Crop to change the orientation.
    Go from a square or horizontal picture to vertical image by cropping out the top or bottom or sides. Changing the shape can change the focus of the photograph, create impact, and make a photo better fit the layout.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping to turn horizontal image to vertical.

  4. Crop to create uniform images.
    Bring order and uniformity to a collection of images in varied sizes by cropping them so that each retains the same overall look, size, and orientation. Use a combination of cropping and resizing to create better mug shots.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping head shots for uniform appearance.

  5. Crop to add action, interest, or intrigue.
    Creative or unusual cropping adds interest to ordinary images. Showing just a portion of the main subject creates mystery. Breaking part of the picture out of the box (such as removing all or part of the background) can give movement to a stationery image.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping portions of background to accentuate foreground shapes.

  6. Crop out the main subject.
    Sometimes the image that is most interesting or most useful is not the main focus of the photograph. Get more mileage from a single photo by cropping in multiple ways.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping to secondary portions of an image.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping to use different parts of a photo.

  7. Crop creative shapes.
    Used sparingly, photos cut into unusual or unexpected shapes such as starbursts, ovals, or polygons can add a special touch to a newsletter, yearbook, or scrapbook layout or make a plain photograph more interesting.
    Photo Cropping Example: Cropping square images into round or irregular shapes.


  1. Use cropping to change the image size.
    Combine photo cropping with resizing or resampling to bring the subject of the photo closer or push it further away.

  2. Crop bleeds carefully.
    When cropping a photo that will bleed off the page, be sure not to crop so close that the main part of the image gets lost off the edges.

  3. Use cropping with other photo editing techniques.
    Combine photo cropping with other graphics modifications such as color removal, tints, sharpening, and blurring to draw the eye to the most important part of the image.

  4. Keep actual and perceived image size consistent.
    Don't use cropping alone to create images of the same size. Consider the appearance of people and objects in the image. Crop and size photos, such as mug shots or a series of landscapes so that like objects in the images appear at about the same size / distance from the viewer. Consider proportions within the photo when two cropped images appear in close proximity.

What You Need

  • Photos to Crop
  • Graphics Software
  1. About.com
  2. Technology
  3. Desktop Publishing
  4. Graphics Tutorials
  5. Edit or Modify Graphics for Us
  6. Cropping
  7. How to Crop Photos for Use in Cards, Scrapbooks, Newsletters, and Photo Albums

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