163: The Complete Guide to Sizing Photos & Videos for Instagram & Instagram Stories

From Episode 93 of Mike Murphy Unplugged Podcast

Listen To Mike Murphy Unplugged:

EP93: The Instagram Sizing Show

Topics covered in podcast:
What file types are accepted on Instagram?
What aspect ratios can be used on Instagram?
What are the best pixel dimensions for Instagram?
How do I prepare my photos and vides for Instagram & Instagram Stories?

Instagram Has Two Parts:

  1. Instagram Main Feed:
    This is where you post to and browse the photos and videos of accounts you follow. For more on Instagram
  2. Instagram Stories:
    This is similar to Snapchat in that you post photos or videos that disappear after 24 hours. This is also where you can broadcast live.

New To Instagram? Here are a couple of past podcast episodes:
Episode 37 The Instagram Show
Episode 49 The Instagram Stories Show

What file types are accepted on Instagram?

For photos:

Upload jpegs or png files
Animated gifs are not supported.

Alternative to gifs on Instagram: Boomerang by Instagram

For videos

Instagram accepts a wide variety of video types
Recommendation (and most common):
H.264 codec
mp4 file extension

Length of Videos on Instagram:

Instagram (Main):

Videos: 60 seconds or less
(unless doing Multi-posts…see bonus tip at end )

Instagram Stories:

Videos: 15 seconds or less

Aspect Ratios & Dimensions

Aspect Ratio

The relationship of width to height of a photo or video (width : height)

Example: HD Video found on YouTube or Shot with your iPhone
16:9 (aspect ratio)
1920 x 1080 pixels (dimensions)

Resolution (Photos Only)

Measured in pixels per inch and for photos.
You do not have to worry about pixels per inch (ppi)with video

PPI for Web Use:
72 or 96 ppi is good for most online use.

Tip: Retina and 5K monitors may require 96 or 150 ppi so use your eyes and experiment with different export settings. If it looks bad, bump up. The goal is always to get best quality and lowest file size. Use trial and error.

Making YouTube Thumbnails?:
1920 pixels x 1080 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi is perfect.

My all-purpose go-to size for web:
2048 pixels (long edge) at 96 ppi.

Need a refresher on pixels, aspect ratio, resolution?
Listen Episode 92: The Pixels 101 Show

The Pixel Dimensions for Instagram & Instagram Stories

Profile Image

Aspect Ratio 1:1 (Square)
Recommended Size (per Instagram): 160 pixels x 160 pixels

Tip: As long as you upload a 1:1 aspect ratio, you can use a bigger image. The size I use for my avatar or profile images on Instagram is 1024 pixels x 1024 pixels, which is overkill, but Instagram will scale down.

Instagram Main Feed

The 4 Aspect Ratios To Use:

  1. Square (1:1 Aspect Ratio)
  2. Horizontal #1 (16:9 Aspect Rati0)
  3. Horizontal #2 (1.91 : 1 Aspect Ratio)
  4. Vertical (4:5 Aspect Ratio)

1. The Square

Instagram still loves the square and the square looks great because it fills the whole frame.

Aspect Ratio 1:1 (Square)

Good Pixel Dimensions for Photos:
1080 x 1080 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi (photos)
2048 x 2048 pixels at 96 ppi (my standard)

Good Pixel Dimensions for Videos:
1080 x 1080 pixels…H.264 (.mp4 file extension)
1920 x 1920 pixels… H.264 (.mp4 file extension) *

2. Horizontal (Option 1)

Aspect Ratio 16:9 (Wide)

Good Pixel Dimensions for Photos:
1920 x 1080 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi

Good Pixel Dimensions for Videos:
1920 x 1080 pixels…H.264 (.mp4 file extension)
1280 x 720 pixels… H.264 (.mp4 file extension)

3. Horizontal (Option 2)

Aspect Ratio 1.91 : 1 (Wide)

A little skinnier than 1920 x 1080 videos

Good Pixel Dimensions for Photos:
1080 pixels by 566 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi
1800 x 945 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi

Good Pixel Dimensions for Videos:
1080 pixels by 566 pixels…H.264 (.mp4 file extension)
1800 x 945 pixels… H.264 (.mp4 file extension)…what I use**

4. Vertical

Aspect Ratio 4:5 (Vertical/Portrait)

Good Pixel Dimensions for Photos:
864 pixels by 1080 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi
1080 pixels by 1350 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi

Good Pixel Dimensions for Videos:
864 pixels by 1080…H.264 (.mp4 file extension)…what I use**
1080 pixels by 1350 pixels… H.264 (.mp4 file extension)

Bonus Trivia: 4:5 is the aspect ratio for 8" x 10" photos. If you multiply width:height by 2 you get 8x10. Works with any aspect ratio (and not just the number 2). 2:3 times 4= 8" x 12"….

Instagram Stories

Aspect Ratio 9:16 (Vertical/Portrait)

Good Pixel Dimensions for Photos:
1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels at 72 or 96 ppi

Good Pixel Dimensions for Videos:
1080pixels x 1920 pixel…H.264 (.mp4 file extension)

Bonus:

You can only post square photos or videos as Multi-Posts. Unless you do this :D

Instagram Multi-Post Pro Tip:
Use 1920 x 1920 as a Video Placeholder with white background
Place 1920 x 1080 video in the center
Now you can post Wide videos in Multi-Post as you can only use Square videos with multi-post, but with white background it will look the same.

How Can I Help You? (aka, I’m a Freelancer ;D)

I create content and help people figure things out.

I make podcasts and videos that teach people how to make better content.

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My name is Mike Murphy, I’m a one man band and podcaster.
Learn. Create. Move Forward.
@mikeunplugged on Twitter or Instagram

Written by

Podcaster, Tutorial Maker & Problem Solver. I Help People Figure Things Out. Email: mike@mikemurphy.co Podcaster Support & Content Creator @Simplecast.

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