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
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)
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)
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)
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
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.
*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 and let me know 😀