Sarah Lorien Photography Sydney

What do image dimensions mean?

To get the most out of your fabulous brand and marketing images there’s more to it than just grabbing an image and plonking it in a post, also known as ‘The plight of drag-and-droppers‘. There are SO MANY ways to finesse HOW you use your photographs to set your visual identity apart. In a good way.

This post is specifically about image and content dimensions, and there’s a Canva Tutorial video at the end of this post which walks you through the steps for creating size templates in Canva.

Each social media platform has different size or dimension requirements and if you’ve ever posted a design that looks amazing on one platform but whole sections are cut off in another, it’s time to get familiar with how to create exactly what you need.

The same rules apply for print, in fact it’s WAY more important you get this right, otherwise you can end up with boxes of blurry flyers, posters and price guides delivered to your door.

It’s ok! It can be an easy step in your workflow. First, let me explain what the dimensions are.

Have you seen “dimensions” listed but don’t really understand what they mean?

We’ll look to a classic use of image dimensions, from way back before computers and digital files were a thing, to help translate.

For many years 8×10 inch (8×10”) photo prints were a ‘standard size’. A print in these dimensions had 8 inches along one side, and 10 inches along the other side.

Look at the image above, and think of each place you want your image or design to go as a ‘frame’. The banner at the top of your Facebook page is a frame, your Instagram grid is a collection of square frames, the sizes your printer has sent you for the product launch postcards you’re planning is a ‘frame’ for your design. You need to create artwork in the correct sizes so it looks good in these frames.

If your ’80s glamour shot was too wide to fit in the 8×10″ frame, scissors would be whipped out, decisions would be made about which part of the photo was expendable, then SNIP SNIP SNIP.

This is what happens when you try to post files that are the wrong size for their online destinations. Social media algorithms cut or stretch it willy-nilly. SNIP SNIP SNIP. You can’t ask them not to chop off your nose or scooch across so your URL is included.

How do we know the size we need to make our content?

Back to our 8×10″ reference, web image dimensions are measured in pixels, not inches, but the concept is the same. If you’re directed to provide content in 1080×1350 pixels (1080×1350 px) it would have 1080 pixels along one side and 1350 pixels along the other.

There are many sources for this information. If you go into the help section of any social media platform you can find their resources, or do a Google search. As always you’ll need to wade through the search results, so keep your eye out for Hootsuite, Hubspot and Sprout Social as reliable options. Each year these platforms publish guides for multiple social media platforms in one blog post or downloadable pdf.

Always look for a current source. Sometimes the size requirements change.

Let’s use Instagram as an example. At the time of writing this, the recommended/required dimensions are:

  • Square post: 1080x1080px
  • Portrait post: 1080x1350px
  • Landscape post: 1080x566px
  • Stories & Reels: 1080x1920px

See, it’s all starting to make sense!

If you’re already comfortable with a graphics or image editing programme stay with it. For people new to editing software I recommend Canva. There’s a great free version and a heap of information and tutorials online to help. Once you learn the basics it’s also user friendly.

I know from teaching design and image editing for over 10 years, that many people are coming into marketing and content creation roles without a classic design education or experience in content production, and it can be frustrating for them that most tutorials assume core concepts and applications are understood.

My “Canva for Absolute Beginners” YouTube series covers beginner level terms and tasks, to help make everything from basic designs to more advanced projects much easier.

The video below explains how to create specific image dimensions in Canva.

The secret to getting across the myriad of tasks we all need to do as business owners and marketers, is to break them down into steps and, where necessary, demystify them one by one.

The images in this post were created with elements from Adobe Express and edited in Adobe Photoshop.
The first in a series of posts to guide you in creating an outstanding visual communication of your brand, with a video on working in Canva