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What’s The Best Aspect Ratio for Sharing Digital Images on Facebook?

When you’re printing images, the desired aspect ratio is pretty much driven by the desired print size. If you want a big picture, then you’re going to get an 8 inch by 10 inch picture (with a 4:5 aspect ratio). If you print out a small picture, you’ll get a 4 inch by 6 inch picture (with a 2:3 aspect ratio). Not really much choice to make.

When you share pictures on the web, though, you need to think carefully about how you want to crop the pictures. You can choose from any aspect ratio you want, and your main goal is to have your image fit well into the target design. In the case of Facebook, what’s the optimal aspect ratio for posting pictures?

Well, one thing to keep in mind is that Facebook sets a maximum size for your images – 720 pixels on the long edge. With that restriction, your image can be any aspect ratio that you want. When you view the image itself, the page will automatically size the page to your image.

Take, for example, this image to the left. It’s been cropped to a portrait orientation, and the long edge has been resized to 720 pixels. The width has been resized to maintain the proper aspect ratio, and the picture is centered within the viewing area.

You may not like that gray area to the left and right of the picture. The solution? Use a landscape orientation. In that case, the image will stretch to cover the full width of the photo viewing area, and the height will automatically be adjusted. The comments will follow immediately below the image, and there won’t be any empty space.

Another thing to keep in mind is the way your image will appear in the album page or elsewhere throughout the Facebook site.

The screenshot to the left is a screenshot of the album that the first picture is from. Notice how you can only see the top half of the girls? That’s because the album page uses a landscape orientation (an aspect ratio of 4:3).

While Facebook doesn’t stretch or squish your pictures to fit into the 4:3 aspect ratio of this box, it essentially re-crops the photo. If your image is a portrait orientation (like the picture of the two girls), a large portion of the image is going to be cropped out when it’s viewed on the album page. If, on the other hand, your image is closer to the 4:3 aspect ratio, then it won’t appear significantly different.

So What’s the Best Aspect Ratio to Use for Facebook?

Well, that’s something of an opinion. But, you should keep in mind the way the album page is set up and the way the image page is set up. I personally dislike the gray area to the left/right of the photo, so most of the images I post to Facebook are a 1:1 aspect ratio or more landscape oriented than that.

If you want your images to perfectly fit into the standard Facebook image box, then you should use a 4:3 aspect ratio. That way, your image will always be completely displayed, and you won’t have to worry about important things (like someone’s face), getting cropped out.

Filed Under: Digital Photo FAQs

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About Digital Photography How To

Digital Photography How To is intended to be a guide to people learning how to use their digital SLR cameras. Three years ago, I had never picked up a camera; now, I produce a yearbook every year and I moonlight as a professional photographer.

I write this website to share what I've learned in that time. The topics will range from truly beginners topics, to tutorials for post processing, to resources for yearbook and graphic design, to thoughts on transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional. Keep up to date by subscribing to the RSS feed.

About the Author

Digital Photography How To is written by Brian Rock. In addition to being a photographer, he's an educator. He teaches high school history, he's the advisor of the school yearbook, and he trains his kids to do all of the photography for the yearbook.

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