Facebook Covers: It’s hip to be square

For a while now it has bothered me how the Facebook Cover is cropped and resized on so many Facebook Pages. Even big brands like Pepsi have not solved this.

As far as I can tell neither have a multitude of experts nor Facebook themselves.

Conventional wisdom suggests that dimensions of 851×315 pixels is correct. That’s wrong because such an image will always be scaled up to fill the vertical space (this is by necessity to avoid show through of the background).

Playing with aspect ratios a little bit, I learnt that an image with dimensions of 851×479 will scale instead to fill the horizontal space most of the time but only our friend the square will always scale to fill the horizontal space.

This scaling to fill horizontally now allows us to place content in a strip across the centre of our image in the knowledge that it will be displayed no matter how our page is being viewed.
Content above and below this strip may or may not be displayed so it’s important to treat this area carefully when we design our cover image (we also have to be careful to think about the four possible placements of the profile picture*).

Below are a few examples of the way different devices and apps display Pepsi Australia’s 851×315 cover image compared to a square cover image.

Round 1 — Mobile Safari

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari - Portrait

1 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari – Portrait

 

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari - Portrait

2 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari – Portrait

The first image shows severe cropping of the sides of the 851×315 image – ruining Pepsi’s  message.
The second image instead has the top and bottom cropped while content placed across the centre of the image remains intact.

The first round goes to the square image.

Round 2 — Mobile Safari (landscape)

851x315 image as retrieved from the Pepsi Australia Facebook Page

3 — 851×315 image as retrieved from the Pepsi Australia Facebook Page

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari - Landscape

4 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari – Landscape

Image 3 shows the 851×315 image has again lost it’s sides, ruining Pepsi’s message as before.

Images 2 and 4 could have been replaced with 851×479 pixel images with identical results (far superior to the mobile safe zone of 563×315 suggested elsewhere)

This round goes to the equilateral rectangle.

Round 3 — ‘Paper’ app (iOS)

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook 'Paper' app

5 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook ‘Paper’ app

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook 'Paper' app

6 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook ‘Paper’ app

Image 5. Thanks to the Paper app displaying a square cover image the cropping of Pepsi’s message is even more severe while image 6 shows the square image in full.

851×315 loses again.

Round 3 — ‘Facebook’ app (iOS)

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the 'Facebook' app

7 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the ‘Facebook’ app

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the 'Facebook' app

8 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the ‘Facebook’ app

Image 7 and 8 from the Facebook app for iOS appear identical to those for Mobile Safari.

851×315 is on the ropes. Can 1 point be clawed back in the final round…

Round 5 — Old school

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

9 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

10 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

At long last Pepsi’s message has reached us, but 851×315 still offers no advantage over the square image – this round is a draw.

Dingdingding, it’s the final bell and our 851×315 image could not win a single round. Victory goes to our square cover image.


For comparison these last two images are downloaded directly from Facebook.

851x315 image as retrieved from the Pepsi Australia Facebook Page

851×315 image from Pepsi Australia’s Facebook Page – Oh, the irony!

960x960 square image as retrieved from my Facebook Page after upload

960×960 square image as retrieved from my Facebook Page after upload
This image remains a png as uploaded (previous larger images have been converted and scaled to 960×960 jpeg

*If there is any interest I may make my square image available as a template for anyone to use.

Don’t forget to credit me and if you liked this or have any comments, head over to Facebook or Twitter and let me know 😀