If you’ve come across the term aspect ratio or video aspect ratio while in the process of creating content for your business but weren’t sure what it meant, you are not alone. But it’s time to change all that.
In this article, we review the importance of understanding the different social media aspect ratio requirements, as well as how your video’s final format plays a role in how your photo and video content comes out on various platforms. We will also cover different social media size requirements and how to easily change aspect ratios for your videos. We will look at Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube’s video aspect ratios and more.
Aspect ratio is defined as the width of a picture or video frame in relation to its height. In essence, it is the proportion of your content asset—or, put more simply, its final shape: horizontal, vertical, or square.
For example, a square image has an aspect ratio of 1:1. The image resolution could be 500 x 500, 800 x 800, or 1200 x 1200, but the aspect ratio will still remain 1:1. This means that a very small image can share the same aspect ratio as a large one. Think of a Facebook profile pic compared to an Instagram feed; one is smaller than the other in resolution, but they share the same 1:1 aspect ratio and square shape.
The term “aspect ratio” is really a professional way of describing a shape, kind of like a picture frame that comes in different formats. The way the aspect ratio is calculated in our digital world today makes it seem super complicated, but really it’s not. In a nutshell, the aspect ratio is the shape of your image or video as it appears on your screen.
It is very helpful and even crucial to understand aspect ratios when creating online content. Without it, the content you upload can look downright bad. Do your videos ever look distorted or stretched? It might be because you don’t know the difference between the 1:1, 16:9, and 4:3 aspect ratios and where they are best used.
As we discussed above, the aspect ratio is important because it influences how your photos and videos will look when you share them on different platforms. Understanding the different aspect ratios will make sharing on various social media sites easier. It will also ensure your content visibility is optimal. Here are a few key benefits of using the right aspect ratio for your content.
It is crucial to understand the aspect ratio when showcasing a specific item or subject. Have you ever searched on a photo site looking for a particular theme or topic and found the perfect image, but when you shared it on a specific platform like Instagram, the picture didn’t fit? The aspect ratio also affects how we showcase our subject material when we want a specific image or shot centered or in the background.
For example, you might have an image or video of a headshot, except when you upload it to Instagram, it appears too large, or it has black bars surrounding it. This is because the image’s aspect ratio is not formatted to the platform you are sharing it on for optimal viewing. The solution is to reformat the image or video to Instagram’s standard shape of 1:1.
Aspect ratio and design go hand in hand. The aspect ratio will affect how and where you add text to your video or captions to a photo. It makes a big difference when it comes to creating content to share on social media.
An additional thing to keep in mind is that if you want to combine an image with video footage for a promotional video, the image might have a different aspect ratio than the video. When you go to publish the video, the image will be distorted or not properly centered. This problem is simple to fix by resizing your image. With the right online tool, you can effortlessly adjust the aspect ratio of the image to be in alignment with the video.
Letterboxes are the black bars you used to see when using older TV screens showing new movies shot at a different aspect ratio. They can also show up on mobile devices when the video uploaded doesn’t match the aspect ratio of the platform it is shared to. Some will know these as cinematic bars. If your uploaded content appears with letterboxes, that means you need to change the aspect ratio. Some people get the aspect ratio of their footage confused when we start talking about the ratio of a screen. To keep it simple, just remember that aspect ratio is really just the shape. So, for example, most televisions have a screen in the shape of 16:9 today, which essentially means “horizontal,” and mobile phones have a screen aspect ratio of 9:16, which means “vertical.”
Why is this important? Because social media outlets take this into account when creating their platforms. Take Instagram, for example—when they created their platform in 2012, users could only upload photos in a 1:1 or square shape. As a result, users who wanted to post landscape and portrait photos had to crop their pictures into a square or use other apps for workarounds.
Today, all the major social media platforms have adjusted to meet their users’ various formatting needs, but you will often run into complications (like black bars or distorted images) that can be easily fixed if you have a basic understanding of the problem.
The black bars (known as “letterboxes”) are the platforms’ method of formatting footage to ensure it retains its original shape, even if the screen is not that same shape. Remember, think about the black bars on the top and bottom of a TV screen when you’re watching a film recorded in widescreen format. Using the right photo (or video) aspect ratio will prevent any letterbox situations.
Aspect ratio and resolution both refer to the frame size and are often confused with each other. Whether you’re an avid video editor or a novice, knowing some basic information about aspect ratio and resolution will prove helpful when uploading to the web.
The resolution of an image is the total number of pixels displayed on your screen. Resolution measures how many pixels an image contains. To get the resolution, you would multiply the width times the height. The bigger the resolution, the more defined the image, and the bigger your file in terms of megabytes (or gigabytes).
So, for example, you could have two videos, both filmed in full HD, that have the exact same resolution (number of pixels) but different aspect ratios (width and height of the video). One could be showing in horizontal 16:9 (aspect ratio) and one showing in vertical 9:16 (aspect ratio), but both could have 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Let’s take it further. Again, perhaps you have one image you want to share on two different platforms like Facebook Stories and Instagram. The best shape for Facebook stores is 9:16 (vertical), because they are primarily viewed on mobile devices. However, Instagram typically uses a square aspect ratio. The image resolution could be full HD (1920 x 1080), but you can change the aspect ratio to fit the platforms or where the content is being posted. You can format the same image to a different aspect ratio for Pinterest too, which generally requires a 2:3 aspect ratio.
What exactly does all of this mean? Aspect ratio and resolution go hand-in-hand and play an essential part in video production, especially when uploading videos to different social media platforms.
We have already explained the difference between aspect ratio and resolution. Now we understand that we can have two videos with the exact same high-quality resolution but different shapes due to the screen size on different devices. Thus, the primary issue with aspect ratio is a distorted image or the appearance of black bars on either side when viewing.
Today, the most common video resolutions are HD, full HD, 4K, and 8K. Distorted videos and black bars in a video happen when the video aspect ratio and the screen size and/or orientation don’t match. Also, if the video resolution is lower than the screen resolution, you could also get bars on the bottom. In any case, no matter the video resolution, you will always be restricted to the maximum resolution of the viewing screen.
For instance, a video filmed in 1080p will still only give you 1080p resolution, even if you have an 8K monitor with a high resolution. Conversely, if your monitor is 1080p and you have a video filmed in 4K, the video resolution will still be 1080p when it plays.
It’s possible to change the video resolution if you find it necessary. Some excellent video converters can help with video formatting; try the ones here. However, it’s as easy as editing the aspect ratio to the desired size for the viewing device most of the time. A good video editor like Promo.com will do the trick in a few simple steps.
Since the dawn of the first widescreen film, Old Ironsides, in 1926, we have come a long way in the viewing quality of our devices and screens. Not too long ago, all we had was a square television with a 4:3 ratio screen shape. Today, we have mobile phones, smartpads, and widescreen TVs. Thankfully, this isn’t such a big deal, because YouTube, Facebook, and other social media channels are the new TV of this generation.
In fact, studies show that around 62% of the population watches videos on their mobile devices. Much of the content is on YouTube; however, social media sites today are also primarily video-based.
Among the most popular social media sites, the most common ratio shapes are 16:9, 4:3, and 1:1. Aspect ratios are critical for web content, because different images require various shapes for different uses, e.g., desktop vs. mobile or blog vs. Facebook.
It is important to note that most social media platforms allow many varying aspect ratios, but not all will perform well for different distributions. For example, a Facebook banner ad is a different shape than a Facebook Story. Each platform has the best practices for various content sizes and ratios listed in each social media section of this article.
Using the correct aspect ratios ensures your images are displayed as intended without distortion or resolution loss. Let’s take a quick look at the common uses for all of them.
There is no question that this video aspect ratio is one of the most popular on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram Stories, or watching videos on TikTok, this vertical shape is primarily used because we see everything on our phones today.
A 1:1 ratio is a square. This means that an image’s width and height are equal. Some common 1:1 ratios are an 8 x 8-inch photo, a 1080 x 1080-pixel image, or general social media profile picture templates. This shape ratio is also common for print photographs and mobile screens.
A 16:9 ratio is generally used for viewing presentation slides, widescreen TVs, or computer monitors. The 16:9 ratio replaced the previous 4:3 ratio for monitors and TV screens as TVs evolved and changed their shape, thereby creating a slimmer, more elongated rectangular device. Common video resolutions in the 16:9 ratio are 1920 x 1080 pixels and 1280 x 720 pixels. Most social platforms support this shape.
4:3 resolution is fading quickly, but it is not yet entirely obsolete. You can still get certain GoPros or different action cameras that give you 4:3 modes. The common resolutions are generally from 640p x 480p to 1600p x 1200p and a range in between. The 4:3 aspect ratio is becoming less common as our technology has advanced and is being replaced by 1:1.
Determining what is driving your project and message is vital in deciding which photo aspect ratio you should use. If you are sharing your video or image across social media platforms, you need to decide on your video aspect ratio in advance. The biggest question you should be asking yourself is this: “What platform am I intending to use this content for, and in what format?”
Sometimes, we want to combine a couple different clips together with different aspect ratios or resolutions. It’s possible to merge them with a good video editor. Likewise, you can use different aspect ratios in a video, as the editor will add the bars required to make it work. Still, when you render out a final video, it will have a set resolution and a fixed aspect ratio.
Today, there is no question that vertical video is on the rise. With the increase of video viewing on smartphones and social media channels, aspect ratios have shifted to a vertical direction. Instagram’s standard square 1:1 ratio shape is excellent for close-ups of people’s faces, but it cannot capture the panoramic views we take with our advanced cameras today.
Mobile phone usage has driven the 9:16 vertical shape into broader acceptance. Additionally, many people are creating vertical short films and videos for various purposes. Using video to promote small businesses and education has gained immense popularity with the rise of social media.
There are many platforms available today that allow creators to toggle between a variety of aspect ratios with video resizing tools. Therefore, figuring out what shape ratio to use is not as difficult as it might sound. However, it is critical to understand what aspect ratio is and how to change it to achieve optimal engagement.
One of the best methods of changing the aspect ratio for any platform or website is utilizing online image and video editors. In addition, it is convenient to have all of your brand’s content assets in one place that can be accessed straight from your browser.
Whether you need to change a video shape ratio or an image shape ratio, Promo.com can help—and can store all of your videos and images in one place.
To get a better idea of the options and importance of aspect ratios, let’s take a look at each of the most popular platforms and their ratio requirements.
To get a better idea of the options and the importance of understanding the aspect ratio, let’s take a look at each of the most popular platforms and their ratio requirements.
Currently, YouTube has over 1.9 billion monthly active users, making it second in the world only to Facebook. So there is no doubt that YouTube is a positive way to expand your audience reach.
It is crucial to provide high-quality videos to achieve high engagement. Consequently, understanding the aspect ratio of YouTube is essential. Poorly filmed or edited videos will probably not engage well, especially with billions of other videos on the platform to compete with. Therefore, understanding the aspect ratio can help you correctly format your footage so that it appears the way you intended online.
YouTube permits uploading videos of various sizes that range from 240p to 4K. However, getting the correct resolution isn’t enough. It is essential to consider your YouTube video size, length, and aspect ratio when uploading videos on YouTube.
The standard YouTube aspect ratio is 16:19, and the maximum video size is 256GB, or 12 hours, whichever is less with a verified account. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t upload other ratios. 16:9 is just the standard YouTube size. If you choose to use a different shape ratio like 4:3, then YouTube will automatically adjust the footage by adding the black bars (letterboxes).
YouTube short videos, otherwise known as a “YouTube Short,” is YouTube’s solution for the increasing popularity of short-form videos on platforms like TikTok.
YouTube short videos have a vertical 9:16 aspect ratio. YouTube short videos can be up to one minute in length, show up in your vertical feed, and generally take over the entire screen when viewing it on mobile devices. YouTube shorts can also be several 15-second videos combined or one continuous video and stay in your channel forever.
Like TikTok, with YouTube short videos, you can scroll to the following video of an entirely different channel creator for that instant gratification of the next video – it’s highly addicting.
Because all you need for a YouTube short video is a 9:16 format, a video one minute long or shorter, and the hashtag #YouTube Short, it’s an easy way to promote and share your content or business.
YouTube Stories (previously known as YouTube Reels) and YouTube Shorts are both short-form videos, but they work differently on the platform. When watching a YouTube story, you’re enjoying (hopefully) the story from end to end and remain inside the creator’s channel.
YouTube Stories are shorter videos up to 15 seconds, have a vertical 9:16 aspect ratio, and are viewed on your mobile device.
The Stories feature is currently in beta and only available to eligible channels with over 10,000 subscribers. In addition, these reels are relatively short-lived because they disappear after seven days unless you save them.
YouTube gives you the option of choosing the size in which you want to view your video when you upload it by making it available in various sizes.
However, YouTube also maintains that the speed of your broadband connection and your device greatly determine the screen resolution. Therefore, you can easily change the resolution by accessing the YouTube “Settings” gear icon and selecting the resolution you want under the Quality pop-up menu (or the three dots on a mobile device).
The YouTube app for Android automatically adjusts the player to the size of the video. So whether you have a vertical, square, or horizontal image or video, it will fill the screen.
The standard YouTube aspect ratio is 16:9, but the YouTube player automatically adjusts the shape ratio when streaming or playing a video. There is no need to edit the aspect ratio for YouTube; however, you might want to edit the aspect ratio for the sake of video quality on other platforms.
With Instagram, it’s important to use the recommended Instagram formats and sizes. In addition, Instagram typically compresses videos and photos during upload, so if you use the optimal resolution, your video quality won’t be affected during the compression process.
The Instagram aspect ratio allows you to display your video in all three standard formats: a 16:9 widescreen ratio, a 4:5 portrait ratio, or a square 1:1 ratio.
Additionally, all sizes provide a video resolution range of 1920p to 1080p, but you should bear in mind that if your post size exceeds Instagram’s guidelines, it will automatically adjust your video size.
There are several ways to post on Instagram, but they all use one of the three standard aspect ratios.
You might find yourself in a situation where your video is longer than what is allowed for Instagram and does not have the proper aspect ratio. Instagram will trim the footage and crop the shape. If the trim and crop positions are not what you want, it’s easy to fix with an online video trimmer.
You can effortlessly upload your video and use an online editor to precisely trim the footage you want to keep and apply the aspect ratio you need if necessary. Selecting what parts of your footage you want to highlight and applying the correct aspect ratio will help promote engagement, because it gives you control over the video content.
Instagram video files may be up to 4GB, and Instagram regular post videos can only be 60 seconds long. However, you can upload and trim Instagram videos that are longer than that with a great online video editor. You can also reduce the video file size with an online compressor. For Instagram Stories, you can post up to 15 seconds, or up to 60 minutes for a live stream.
Instagram’s aspect ratio allows a 16:9 widescreen ratio, a 4:5 portrait ratio, or a square 1:1 ratio. This means you can upload and display videos that are 1920p x 1080p, 1080p x 1350p, or 1080p x 1080p. Also, please note that Instagram will automatically adjust your video size if your post exceeds the time guidelines. If you need to trim your video, a great online video editor is the way to go.
Among the social media sites today, TikTok is one of the newest! In 2019, TikTok was the third most downloaded app. In terms of video content marketing, it is becoming super popular, and small businesses are getting in on the trend.
TikTok videos are extremely fun, but it’s essential to achieve correct formatting to create engaging videos. Initially, TikTok videos could only be up to 15 seconds, but recently, TikTok extended the limit to 60 seconds for videos recorded on their app.
It’s important to note that any videos created on external platforms can be longer than 60 seconds. TikTok offers a great native video recorder. However, other more advanced online TikTok editors are available that can help you drive engagement with specific branding features or finding creative images from professional libraries.
TikTok is formatted to be viewed on a smartphone, so a vertical 9:16 aspect ratio is optimal, with 1080p x 1920p resolution. The 1:1 aspect ratio is also available, but the video will not fill the entire screen. Not ideal! Additionally, don’t forget that the video’s file size cannot exceed 287.6 MB on iOS or 72 MB on Android; however, for video ads, you can go up to 500 MB.
For TikTok videos, an aspect ratio of 9:16 is optimal, and most of the time, it utilizes the full screen of your phone. However, if you recorded your video in landscape mode, you will probably see the infamous black bars. It is relatively easy to remove these bars by editing the video into the 9:16 aspect ratio.
Facebook has one of the most advanced advertising systems out of all the social networks. Currently, statistics show that there are ten million active advertisers worldwide using Facebook. In addition, globally, many brands have discovered video advertising’s effectiveness in attracting new audiences and generating more leads and are now using it with Facebook videos.
Facebook supports videos of different aspect ratios such as 4:5, 2:3, 16:9, 9:16. For instance, the Facebook Feed and Carousel shape ratio is 1:1, and Facebook Stories uses a 9:16 aspect ratio. With each type of image or ad that you might use on Facebook, getting the correct aspect ratio size can affect the success of your post, and because there are so many advertising options, it can be challenging to do it right.
When designing your ads to the optimal sizes, it is essential that you meet all of Facebook’s requirements for your ad to stand out and engage your audience. There are many advertising options for both video and images with different specifications.
There are many different ways you can promote on Facebook, and so, knowing the correct aspect ratio for each is important. Facebook has broken down each advertising category and included the specs with the right aspect ratio in each section. You can find the exact aspect ratios for Facebook videos here and images here.
Facebook has many tools to help with ad creation and editing images and videos for proper ad placement—for example, when you want to crop media for a video ad or change your image aspect ratio for placements. However, when you upload an image for your ad, Facebook will apply the recommended aspect ratio and crop your images or video for the different placement groups, such as Feeds and Stories.
If you don’t want to use the business tools to crop your Facebook aspect ratio, video editors have alternatives. Many video editors like Promo.com allow you to trim your video aspect ratio in just a few clicks. Furthermore, it’s quite easy to use the design tools to brand your messaging and creative ideas before posting.
Facebook, like Instagram, often defaults posts to a square format—so if you happen to post a landscape video, the sides will appear cut off. Fortunately, Facebook has a toggle icon that allows you to switch between formats to correct this.
A great alternative for Facebook is to create a square video by editing the video aspect ratio with an online video editor. This way, you can ensure that the parts you want in your footage don’t get cropped off. When you use an online image or video editor, you have greater control over your footage.
Full HD, 2K, and 4K resolutions can be formatted or trimmed with any aspect ratio for optimal viewing. Generally, Facebook Stories fill the entire screen of a user’s device, so for full HD resolution, it is recommended that you use a 9:16 shape ratio.
Twitter is one of the largest global social networks. Of course, like with anything else, to increase engagement, adding an image or sharing a video is critical for optimization.
Twitter permits two aspect ratios—the (square) 1:1 ratio and the 16:9 ratio (landscape or portrait) for popular in-feed posts. However, Twitter offers many other ad formats with different aspect ratios, too. They include Twitter individual horizontal video, banner images, 6-second ads, and more.
Previously, there have been issues with the automatic cropping of images, but Twitter recently changed how it displays images. In March of this year, Twitter rolled out a limited test of larger images that were uncropped in users’ feeds to resounding success.
Twitter’s new system (on Android and iOS) will preview an image, showing how it will appear before it goes live in the timeline.
If you need to resize a video for Twitter, an online video resizer is the most convenient way. Resize your content to fit the ideal Twitter aspect ratios and ensure your images or videos are high-quality and engaging.
Using a free browser-based video editing tool, you can add slideshows of your pictures and apply the correct ratio you need effortlessly. Also, the additional features available in aspect ratio video editors like Promo.com include extensive editing tools and added selections of Getty Images to choose from for your Twitter posts.
Generally, a Twitter video is limited to 30 seconds if you directly upload it from Twitter.com or on mobile. However, there is a way to upload longer videos on Twitter by accessing the Twitter dashboard if you have a business account.
The same Twitter aspect ratios apply, but instead of the standard 512MB limit, a business account allows files up to 1GB.
Twitter has its own required sizes and ratios for headers, profile pictures, and posts. It is important to follow the standards for your images so they don’t appear distorted, cropped, or skewed. Twitter typically uses 1:1, so any images that are in the 16:9 ratio, when clicked on, will expand for better optimization. However, you can find all the specs for Twitter image sizes here.
Pinterest is the ultimate visual search and discovery engine, so image size plays a crucial role. Understanding image size options using the correct dimensions will help your posts perform better.
Pinterest allows for different formats. A 2:3 aspect ratio (ex: 1000 x 1500 pixels) for images and 9:16 vertical for videos is the standard recommendation. Other ratios may negatively impact performance or cause the image or video to truncate.
Whether it’s static Pins or multi-image collections, you will find the specification guide for dimensions, file sizes, and character limits here.
As with any visual post, if you create longer Pins to ensure they perform well, consider making them with the text centered in the middle of the Pin. This way, your viewers can get a preview of your Pin and its contents!
Using a Pinterest image resizer will enable you to center what is essential to you in longer Pins. You can easily apply the correct ratio and even use creative editing tools for maximum benefits.
If you have a business account with Pinterest, changing the aspect ratio is easy. Use the Pinterest editor to change your Pinterest aspect ratio and add text. Pinterest recommends editing all images to a 2:3 or square 1:1 aspect ratio. Pins appear best when in the vertical 9:16 ratio.
Using an online image editor or video editor will give you creative editing tools. Editors like Promo.com also offer over 110 million Getty Images, professional templates, and editorial footage to help drive engagement.
The 2:3 aspect ratio is an example of a portrait-style aspect ratio similar to the vertical 9:16 that phones display. This aspect ratio keeps the height 1.5 times longer than the width. Thus, the image can fall anywhere in the range of 500p x 750p through 1500p x 2250p and so forth.
Typically, Pinterest ads are 1000 x 1500 pixels. Pinterest recommends the 2:3 aspect ratio and allows JPEGs or PNG files of up to 20MB. If you don’t have the correct image aspect ratio, your image may truncate. This could interfere with the visual quality. That is why it’s good to have your image properly formatted ahead of time and then post.
Ever since LinkedIn added the native video option to their platform, the video content has progressively dominated. LinkedIn’s users are now actively sharing videos on their profiles, and the popularity of video content is increasing.
The most common LinkedIn aspect ratio for native video is either 1:2.4 or 2.4:1. LinkedIn image aspect ratio specs are anywhere from 1.91:1 to the 1:1 square. However, the use of the 9:16 aspect ratio is quite common for LinkedIn video ads.
For a complete guide to the image and video requirements on the site, check out the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions page.
Uploading images or videos on LinkedIn is reasonably straightforward. LinkedIn does offer a trim video option that is native in their video viewer. However, there are no other editing options. Using an online video editing tool like Promo.com is the best way to change any aspect ratio issues with your video.
To achieve the best results for your video campaigns on LinkedIn, it’s good to brand your videos with specific messaging and your brand logo. The premium editing tools on Promo.com offer a wide range of editing options, including changing the LinkedIn aspect ratio.
Sharing or posting videos within a LinkedIn network is easy. LinkedIn provides a share box at the top of the LinkedIn homepage that houses the photo and video icon. It’s straightforward to choose which files you’d like to upload, and you can select up to nine images to post in your feed. (You can select up to nine images).
A 1.91:1 aspect ratio is a horizontal image that typically will have at least a minimum width of 1080 pixels. This is a common size for a LinkedIn ad. It is also supported by Facebook and Twitter.
It is easy to ensure that you have the correct LinkedIn aspect ratio for your images or videos. All you need is to use a LinkedIn photo resizer. You can easily edit your video to the correct aspect ratio. This will ensure your video is formatted correctly for the platform.
Small businesses in general have come to understand the benefits of video promotion and advertising on the biggest social media platforms. Understanding what aspect ratio is and how to use it with your videos and images is one of the keys to producing high-quality content for your brand online. Today, there is no question that using videos for promotion is the best way to drive engagement with your brand. Use a good online video editor to make it easier to trim, edit, and even design your images and videos for the best performance.
At Promo.com, everything you create is stored online and in one place. You can access your uploaded images and videos anytime straight from your browser. Additionally, you have access to popular footage, professional templates, and over 110 million photos and videos from iStock and Getty Images.
Optimize your video for social media by choosing the right aspect ratio. Use Promo to resize easily to one of three sizes for the perfect fit.
KC Kinniburgh is a content manager at Promo. Her writing genre includes almost all aspects of the digital online industry, emphasizing the hi-tech sector. When she is not obsessing about proper punctuation or capitalization, she is learning about the E8 lattice or working out.
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