Since its release in 2010, Instagram has come a long way. You probably remember the app's original formatting, only pictures and only in squares. Thirteen years later and this original layout is hardly recognizable.
Since then, videos, reels, stories, and more have been added to the ever-changing roster of features. With all of these options for different posts comes the confusing world of content dimensions.
In 2010, when the only posting format the app supported was the classic square image, sizing content was easy. Your picture just had to fit into a square. But now, with so many different ways to post, producing the highest quality content is more complicated.
Today we want to dive into the world of dimensions, but before we do, it's important to understand what they even are.
What are "dimensions"?
Two things fall under the umbrella term "dimensions."
- Aspect Ratio (the actual measurements of the image)
- Image Size (the resolution or quality of the image)
The aspect ratio is the picture's width in relation to its height. This is expressed with two digits, such as 1:1. Here, the first number represents the width, and the second represents the height.
So an aspect ratio of 1:1 would be a square since the width is the same as the height. An aspect ratio of 16:9 would mean the width is quite a bit wider than the height (landscape layout). Logically the reverse, or 9:16, would mean the height is taller than the width (portrait layout).
Image size refers to the number of pixels that make up the width and height of the photo. The more "pixels per inch" (PPI), the better the photo's quality.
This is also expressed by two numbers, the first representing width and the second representing height. An example is 1080px by 1080px. Here the PPI for the width and height are the same (so the photo would be square).
Image size is what keeps your photos high quality. If the aspect ratio and image size don’t match, the photo can appear grainy, or stretched.
When photos are upload to Instagram, if the dimensions don’t match or fit, the app itself will alter them. This lowers the overall quality. The exact thing you don't want to happen.
Let's get into the nitty-gritty of how this all plays into your next post.
Static Image Posts
We want to start with the classic posting feature, a static image post.
Remember when we mentioned OG Instagram back in 2010? When the app was first released, only square photos were supported. This meant the only relevant aspect ratio was 1:1. Now, users have more freedom with sizing, and with that freedom can come confusion. But it’s really pretty simple.
Let's look at some common sizings.
Square Posts 1:1
The OG of all OGs. The square post is still very popular on Instagram. After all, Instagram still crops all content to this format on the profile grid.
To get the best quality Square post, you want your photos to be 1080px by 1080px.
Horizontal (or landscape) Posts 16:9
This may not be the most common dimension for your posts, but it can be done and looks pretty damn good when used correctly.
We recommend you go with an image size of 1080px by 608px for horizontal posts. This way, the photo won't appear stretched or grainy.
This is great if you have a killer photo that cropping doesn’t do justice to.
Vertical Posts 4:5
If you want to rock a vertical post, ensure it has a ratio of 4:5, anything longer will be cropped by Instagram.
This format takes up more space when users scroll through their feed which can be attention grabby but keep in mind that it will be cropped on the grid view. Make sure the quality stays intact when cropped.
For the best outcome, we recommend you go with 1080px by 1350px.
Wow, that was a lot of information. To summarize, you are trying to match the aspect ratio of your photo with the image size for the best image quality.
So ideal dimensions for all of your static image posting options are:
- Square – 1080px by 1080px with 1:1 aspect ratio
- Landscape – 1080px by 608px with 16:9 aspect ratio
- Portrait – 1080px by 1350px with 4:5 aspect ratio
OK, perfect, let's move on.
After that information-heavy section, let's cover a posting option that is super easy to learn…Carousels!
Your carousel post can also be square, horizontal, or vertical in layout. The only thing to remember is that the dimensions of your first picture will set the dimensions for all of the following photos.
So if your first picture is 1:1, the entire carousel will also need to be square.
For carousel posts, follow the rules outlined above for static images, and you're golden.
Reels and Stories
Right now, Reels are the preferred form of content when it comes to Instagram growth and engagement. They have blown up in popularity, and the trend doesn't seem to be ending any time soon. So obviously, you want your reels to look high-quality.
Reels are designed to be viewed vertically. So you want to shoot in a 9:16 aspect ratio with 1080px by 1920px.
Remember that Reels have a cover photo displayed on the users' profiles. These images show up as 4:5 in the home feed, but in the profile feed, they are cropped to 1:1. So again, make sure the photo quality doesn't drop when cropped.
Now on to stories.
Any size post can fit your story as long as it's between 1.91:1 and 9:16.
That being said, you likely want your story to fill the entire screen (or maybe not, you do, you boo).
We recommend filming with a 9:16 aspect ratio and 1080px by 1920px.
Video Content Size
In 2022, Instagram merged all Feed videos and IGTV content into the new "Instagram Video" function. This gives us a one-stop shop to see all video content, including long-form videos.
Instagram Video can support aspect ratios from 1.91:1 to 4:5. So again, depending on the layout you would like for your video, base your ratio accordingly.
- Portrait – 1080px x 1350px with 4:5 aspect ratio
- Landscape – 1080px x 608px with 16:9 aspect ratio
Pro-tip: If you want your video content to fit fully onto a phone screen while being held horizontally, make sure it is a 16:9 ratio.
Tying it all together
We know we just threw a stupid amount of numbers at you. So we wanted to summarize it for you below.
As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap between content types for optimal posting dimensions.
It can be stressful trying to produce high-quality content with so many different layouts. But with some practice and time spent familiarizing yourself, you will be a pro in no time!
We hope all of this information has been helpful as you sift through the somewhat complicated world of Instagram dimensions.
If you want more detailed instructions on executing each type of post, we suggest picking up a copy of our book, The Micro Influencer's Brand Partnership Bible. It's filled with tips and tricks for creators just like you who are looking to make their mark on social media.
Thanks for reading, and happy posting!