Everything You Need to Know About Aspect Ratios

If you’re like most people posting to social media, you’ve probably given little thought to the aspect ratios of your videos or photos. But the aspect ratio is much more important than many people realize. An awkward aspect ratio could change how others view your post or page. A good-looking ratio will attract newcomers and make your media look more professional.

If you’ve never given aspect ratios the time of day, here’s everything you should know about them before you post.

What is an Aspect Ratio?

An aspect ratio measures an image, display, or sensor. The two numbers in an aspect ratio represent the width and height of whatever it is. So if a computer display has an aspect ratio of 16:9, that means the display is 16 units wide and 9 units high.

Why Does the Aspect Ratio Matter?

Maybe you’re questioning what difference adjusting your aspect ratio makes. It all comes down to the experience as a viewer. When you change the aspect ratio, you control how the content is viewed. And with multiple standards for different media, it’s crucial that you know which is best to capture the ever-fleeting attention of social media scrollers.

Your Guide to Aspect Ratios for Social Media

Still not sure which ratio is right for your video? Here’s a quick and handy guide you can reference when you’re ready to post your next video on virtually any social media platform.

Instagram

For stories, the aspect ratio should be 9:16. The same aspect ratio is recommended for Instagram Reels though 16:9 is also supported. Reel previews will show at 4:5, regardless of which ratio you upload. Carousel videos are treated like a standard photo, so the aspect ratio is 1:1. Finally, the newer reels option should be 9:16.

Facebook

For posts, there are three main aspect ratios you can use depending on whether you use square, landscape, or portrait orientations. The square ratio is universally 1:1. The ratio is 16:9 for landscape, while it’s flipped to 9:16 for portrait. Stories can be anywhere from 1.91 to 9:16. Ads have three different ratios – 16:9 for landscape, 4:5 for vertical, and 1:1 for square. 

TikTok

Video is TikTok’s backbone, so knowing good aspect ratios is vital. Videos on a feed should be 9:16 to make viewing best for mobile users. Ads are a bit more flexible, with 9:16, 1:1, and 16:9 all being valid options.

Twitter

Generating Twitter clicks and shares is much simpler with proper aspect ratios. Twitter offers two formats for video on feeds: landscape and portrait. You can use the 16:9 ratio for both of these resolutions. That said, 1:1 is a much better option to get the best quality across all devices. You can use these same guidelines for Twitter ads as well.

YouTube

YouTube has a ton of customization for videos, but there’s basically only one format that the player uses. Keep your ratio to 16:9 for best results, although you can upload a video with a 4:3 ratio if you’d like. Ads can be in the same ratio, while shorts should be 9:16.

Pinterest

Pinterest probably has the least straightforward answer for ideal aspect ratios. Standard videos should be 1:1 (square), or you can opt for 2:3, 4:5, or 9:16 (vertical). If you’ve chosen the max width format, you’ll need either the 1:1 ratio or 16:9 for widescreen.

Conclusion

As a social media content creator or editor, you have much more control over how your content is consumed when you pay attention to aspect ratios. While many platforms have their stipulations and best practices, knowing what the required ratios are paints your videos in the best possible light and adds a new layer of depth to the creation process.

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