The Complete Guide to Instagram Image Sizes

by: Dustin Hawley | Friday November 1, 2019

Whether you are a casual user or an avid creator, there are so many cool ways you can post your photos and videos on Instagram. Everything from portraits to landscape shots, square photo options, and even Instagram stories and IGTV videos; there are such a variety of incredible ways to engage with your followers and publish eye-catching content for your brand.

But while there may be an abundance of tools and options available on the photo-sharing platform, it can be a bit daunting trying to figure out the ideal image size for your Instagram content. It's for this reason that we’ve put together a guide for you to help decipher all the different Instagram post details. We'll cover everything from dimensions for each piece of content to the best photo resolution to upload to Instagram for optimal clarity. And yes, Instagram can lower image quality *gasp*

Let's get started!

A Complete Guide to Instagram Image Sizes

Instagram currently accepts images between 320 and 1080 pixels, but there are specific guidelines for images you add to posts, Stories, and IGTV. For example, if your image size is lower than 320px,  Instagram enlarges it upon upload. If it is higher than the maximum pixel size, the image gets resized to 1080px or lower. Because Instagram automatically takes care of things like image size, you don’t need to worry too much about it for general uploads.

However, you should be aware of certain guidelines around image sizes for different types of content on Instagram.

Image Post Guidelines for Instagram

Instagram has been long been known for its square, 1:1 ratio image posts, basically since its inception. It's both traditional and standard in a sense, and it's become almost synonymous with the photo-sharing platform itself. But it was also posed an initial problem for users, as they had to learn how to crop their ph0tos on the fly so they could fit the designated image size of the platform.

Luckily those days are mostly long gone, and Instagram has evolved from that initial model. For example, you are now allowed to upload your content in both portrait and landscape dimensions images. For standard Instagram posts (on your feed), you can choose from three different aspect ratios—1:1 (square), 1.91:1 (landscape), and 4:5 (portrait).

Let's detail each of these options.

1:1 - Square Images

Ideal image size - 1080px by 1080px

As we touched on above, traditional square images are a defining characteristic of Instagram. And for those looking to use this option, the platform has an auto-cropping function that makes the process simple and easy.

It was once a problem uploading square pictures because most cameras took pictures in landscape or portrait formats by default. But today, you can easily take a square picture directly from an iOS device or by using almost any photo app that has different size options.

Here’s an example of a square (1:1) image

1.91:1 - Landscape

Ideal image size - 1080px by 608px

Landscape references the horizontal photos you may have seen on some Instagram posts. Uploading this type of image can be a bit tricky sometimes, because most landscape images are shot in the 16:9 aspect ratio, as opposed to 1.91:1. This makes the pictures you upload automatically get an added black border around them. Often this effect is undesirable, for obvious reasons. 

Here’s an example of a horizontal Instagram image post that got the image size and aspect ratio right during upload.

4:5 - Portrait

Ideal image size - 1080px by 1350px

These are the portrait formatted images with a 4:5 aspect ratio. Luckily, these types of images are fairly easy to upload, because you can easily take a "portrait" formatted image from the camera on your smartphone. Better yet, even if you have an image of a different aspect ratio, it's easy to just crop it to fit the desired size of your Instagram post.

Here’s an example of a post with a vertical, portrait-style image.

Dimensions For Stories

One of the coolest elements of Instagram is the ability users have to create different types of content; like posts, Stories, IGTV videos, etc. And, of course, all these have their own guidelines for uploading images in the optimal dimensions.

Now that we have discussed the different image sizes allowed for Instagram posts, let’s take a closer look at the best practices for Instagram Stories. The ideal Instagram Story image size is 1080px by 1920px with an aspect ratio of 9:16. This is the perfect image size to ensure there is no black border on your content and that the image fits the Story seamlessly.

IGTV Cover Picture

Though IGTV is primarily designed for long-form videos, you do have to upload an image as the cover photo of those videos. For these cover photos, there are specific image size guidelines that are very different from those of standard posts and Stories. 

Ideally, IGTV cover photos should have a resolution of 420px by 654px and an aspect ratio of 1:1.55. You can also choose to either upload a new image as the cover photo or a still shot from your IGTV video.

display of the title safe area cropping for an IGTV thumbnail

The Hassle-Free Way to Upload Images on Instagram

Now that you have gained some familiarity with all the different Instagram image sizes and guidelines, it may feel slightly overwhelming. So many sizes and different dimensions to consider for each particular format. It may feel like your head is spinning already. But don't worry! The process of uploading correctly-sized images is not as difficult as it may sound.

If you are anything like the majority of us who are overworked and have little free time on our hands, you likely have very little time to modify all of your pictures and change the size and aspect ratio every time you upload a picture on Instagram. There are several ways in which you can go about this task without all that much effort.

You can either use a photo editing tool that allows you to edit a picture to make it Instagram-friendly (typically with a preset), or you can simply let Instagram do it for you during your upload process.

This is how you can upload images to Instagram while adhering to the sizing guidelines we outlined above.

About Instagram Auto-Cropping

If you don’t care much if your pictures appear with a black border, then you don’t need to resize images before uploading as Instagram will do it for you. Whenever you upload an image that is of an incompatible size, Instagram will automatically crop and resize it to fit its dimensions.

A lot of people simply don’t bother editing their images and just let Instagram do it for them. The downfall of this practice is that it can make your feed look less aesthetically pleasing. The key to avoiding this is to follow a consistent pattern with all your image posts. 

For example, you can choose to make your feed consistently use only portrait-style images (with the auto-cropped black borders we mentioned above), and make it a part of your theme. Doing this makes your Instagram feed look consistent, and you don't have to put extra effort into resizing and editing your images before you upload them.

Final Words

There are clearly different approaches for each individual feature of Instagram, and while these are the best practices for creating consistent and optimal sizing for your feed, it is by no means an end-all-be-all guide. While you need to be mindful of the image sizes you upload to ensure that your images fit your aesthetic,  cropping is somewhat dependent upon the style and theme of your feed. Cropped images often are shown with black borders, which can either ruin or highlight the visual appeal of your page. It's all about staying on brand and being consistent in your theme. You can use this guide as a simple sizing template to create amazing Instagram content that's a perfect fit for your theme...pun intended.

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