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Instagram Reels Specs: Video Ratios and Optimization Tips

by Tracy Hoeft

April 5, 2021

Digital Marketing , Instagram , Instagram Reels , Social Media , TikTok , YouTube

Making effective and attractive Reels starts with understanding the specs, but success here goes well beyond understanding the basic Instagram Reels specs. People will view your video in one aspect ratio in their Feed and another in the Reels view and yet another in your Instagram profile. In this guide we lay out the exact Instagram Reels specs in every view. This has helped our team make great looking, high-performing videos for Reels and I am hoping that it can also help you.

The 4 Must-Know Instagram Reels Specs

Before you plan your video edit or the text that you will add to your Reel there are 4 Instagram Reels Specs that you will want to be aware of. Those are:

  1. Reels Video Aspect Ratio – 9:16 (1,080 pixels x 1920 pixels)
  2. Instagram Feed View – 4:5 (1,080 pixels x 1,350 pixels)
  3. Instagram Profile View – 1:1 (1,080 pixels x1,080 pixels)
  4. Text Safe Area –  4:5ish (this is a little more art than science, learn more below)

Knowing the specs is important, but understanding where they pull from within your full video is the secret to success with numbers 2, 3, and 4.

Instagram Reels video size specs and aspect ratio

Instagram Reels Video Spec — Aspect Ratio

The overall video size for an Instagram Reel is 1,080 pixels x 1,920 pixels, which is a 9:16 aspect ratio. This is the same as Instagram Stories, IGTV, TikTok and YouTube Shorts. You will want to start with a video in this size, but then also plan where your content is positioned based on the other three important specifications below. One important note — on some phones the edges are cut off at about 35 pixels from the right edge and left edge. This includes on the iPhone XS and several other medium sized phones. You will want to plan your video in all views to allow for this.

Instagram Reels Specification:
1,080 pixels x 1,920 pixels | Aspect Ratio 9:16

Instagram Reels feed video size specs and aspect ratio

Instagram Reels — Feed View

One of the nice benefits of Instagram Reels is that you can also choose to show your Reels to your followers in the standard Instagram Feed. In most cases, I recommend that you take this option. But when you do, you need to understand that the default view is not your entire video (9:16), but rather just a portion of your video. The aspect ratio of this is 4:5 and the pixel specs suggested are 1,080 pixels x 1,350 pixels.

How your video looks in the Feed could be an important success factor. Keep in mind that your follower can watch the full video in the Feed, unlike IGTV where only a short portion plays and then prompts the user to open to view it. For this reason, we have found it is important to plan for this view in our video edit.

In the illustration provided, we show the placement of this 4:5 portion in your video. It can be planned from the center of your overall video, meaning it goes up 675 pixels from the center and down 675 pixels. In the Feed you do see the outside edges of your video, which often is not the case in the full Reels view.

Instagram Reels Spec Feed View:
1,080 pixels x 1,350 pixels | Aspect Ratio 4:5

Instagram Reels spec profile view

Instagram Reel — Profile View

When planning your video don’t forget about how it will look in your Instagram Profile. In the profile, Instagram shows a 1:1 square from your Reels video. That 1:1 is the center of your video and is specifically pulled from the “Cover” that you select.

When adding an Instagram Reel you are given the option to select your “cover” or thumbnail. It is important that one of your key considerations in selecting or designing your thumbnail is related to how it looks in your profile long-term. We get deeper into the Cover in a section below.

Instagram Reels Spec Profile View:
1,080 pixels x 1,080 pixels | Aspect Ratio 1:1

Instagram Reels text safe area spec

Instagram Reels — Text-Safe Area

When a user views your video in the Instagram Reels player, they do see your full 9:16 vertical video. However that is not a full, unobstructed-view. Instagram adds text across the top with their “Reels” branding and interface. On the bottom they overlay your account info, plus your caption and info on the audio used. Also in the right lower corner they add the icons for liking, commenting and sharing your video. You can ignore this and put text and important visual elements in your video that will intersect with these overlay elements, but I would not suggest that. It can be distracting and some of your message will not be easily seen. This is why we suggest that you plan for a “text safe area” in all of your Instagram Reels that keeps your key written content away from these overlays.

While the specs for the three view considerations above are clearly defined, this one is a little less exact. Where these overlays fall on a screen varies by the size of the device on which the user is viewing your Reels. With very small devices, the Reels Text-Safe Zone could get close to the center 1:1 that we identify above for the Profile View. We however have found a majority of phones would make the 4:5 center area and a few pixels above that a good focus for a Reels Text-Safe planning approach.

You need to keep this Text-Safe zone in mind when you are working on your main video content development, but also when you use the tools built into Instagram Reels that allow you to add text, stickers and other elements. Considering the potential negative impact on conveying your message and to make sure that you look like a Reels pro, it is better to play it safe.   

Instagram Reels Spec Text Safe Zone:
1,080 pixels x 1,350+ pixels | Aspect Ratio 4:5+

Instagram Reels cover spec

Planning The Perfect Instagram Reels Cover

Your thumbnail or Reels Cover will be important for your Reels success, so let’s discuss the proper planning for that as well. You can select or add a Cover when creating your Reel in the Instagram app. This option appears in the section where you add your caption. Click on the “Cover” option to the left of your caption text to update that. Make sure that you do this every time you create a Reel — never just leave it to Instagram. You will get the option to select the thumbnail from within your video or to upload an image to be your cover.

Your Instagram Reels cover image will appear in two different places, showing two different parts of your selected thumbnail. The full thumbnail will appear within the Reels parts of Instagram.That includes on your profile within the Reels specific tab and in other Instagram Reels results areas around Instagram. The other place it will appear is in your main profile grid of posts, if you chose this recommendation. In this main profile view, it will show as a 1:1 square thumbnail, which pulls specifically from the center 1,080 x1,080px of your selected cover image. Make sure that you are considering both of these views when you create or select your Instagram Reels Cover image.   

Instagram Reels Spec, the Cover:
1,080 pixels x 1,920 pixels | Aspect Ratio 9:16

Yes this is a lot to think about and it will take you a little time and testing to get this to become second-nature and a standard part of your planning. We believe that Instagram Reels and, more broadly, the growing trend of short vertical-video platforms present a tremendous opportunity that is worth the extra work. If you have any questions about Instagram Reels Specs please hit us up using the form below. If you really want to excel in this area we have several other tools that you might find helpful. You can download our Instagram Reels Specs Reference Guide PDF and Instagram Reels Template here for free. We also have several helpful articles on WHY these new platforms matter, ideas for Instagram Reels for business and what we have found to be the top priorities on Instagram in 2021. Please check those out if you want to take advantage of the best opportunities today in organic (not paid) social media marketing, IMO. I look forward to seeing and hearing about your success with Instagram Reels.

Download Instagram Reels Spec Reference PDF Download Instagram Reels spec png template

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