September 4, 2015

Thinking Outside the Square: A Guide to Instagram’s New Size Specifications + Templates

Best practices for uploading images to Instagram with the new ‘not so square’ aspect ratios.


Instagram recently announced in a blog post that they are going to start “Thinking Outside the Square”, adding support for landscape and portrait, images and videos.

According to Instagram’s own research, 1 in 5 photos or videos have been modified to fit the classic square format, often using a third-party app to add white bars to either the top and bottom or left and right sides of the photo, ultimately making them much smaller and harder to see.

We’ve summarized everything you’ll need to know about this important update and created Instagram Sizing Templates you can download to help format your posts.

Heads up! In order to post in these new dimensions, make sure your Instagram is updated to the latest version of 7.5.

According to Instagram’s blog post: “You can share photos and videos with aspect ratios between 1.91:1 and 4:5.”.

So how does this break down in terms of pixels and sizing? To show you, we’re going to use Instagram’s current native resolution of 2048px. The portrait and landscape sizing we’ll talk about below is calculated relative to that.

PORTRAIT INSTAGRAM IMAGE SIZE SPECS

Portrait images and videos are likely to become the favourite for marketers as this format gives us the largest canvas to play with.

Portrait Instagram posts are sized pretty specifically to an aspect ratio of 4:5; and because the media will always max out to the width of the post, anything outside of this, including your camera’s native 4:3 aspect ratio, will still require some cropping on the top and bottom.

LANDSCAPE INSTAGRAM IMAGE SIZE SPECS

Landscape images will no doubt be extremely popular with not only pro photographers, but also anyone who has ever felt the pain of having to hack the sides off that perfect group shot or epic landscape. You’ll know things have gotten really bad when you start thinking about framing up a square shot even when taking photos on your DSLR just so they’ll share nicely on Instagram.

The landscape orientation allows for variations in sizing between aspect ratios of 1.91:1 and 1:1, without needing to crop the image or video. However, the downside to using landscape media is that it will take up less vertical space in a user’s feed, and your content will ultimately just look “smaller”.

If you’re wondering where the aspect ratio of 1.91:1 comes from or if this seems a bit random to you, it’s actually the exact same proportions as Facebook’s recommended size for “preview” images in their “Sharing Best Practices for Websites & Mobile Apps” documentation.

VIDEO ON INSTAGRAM HAS NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD!

Perhaps the group most appreciative of these updates will be filmmakers and anyone who shoots in the industry standard 16:9 widescreen format. Even old school “square” TV’s were not actually square; they were 4:3. Video on Instagram has always been awkward, to say the least, but now we’ll never have to slice off the side of our videos again!

Disney’s Marketing team was quick to jump on Instagram supporting widescreen video by sharing a 12 second teaser from the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, within hours of the update rolling out.

A footnote to this, you can also upload vertical videos… think about sharing saved content from Periscope or Snapchat.

A FEW OTHER DETAILS YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW…

When you select an image to post, regardless of its orientation, Instagram will still default to cropping the image or video to a square. To change this, tap the double-arrows on the bottom left of the preview area.

If you’re taking photos or video directly in the Instagram App, you will be limited to the OG square format. The new portrait and landscape orientation will only work with content that is created or captured outside of the Instagram App.

When looking at a user’s profile, all of the posts, regardless of orientation, will appear as a center-cropped square.