A Guide to Common Aspect Ratios, Image Sizes, and Photograph Sizes

Don’t know which size to use for your image or design? We have listed common aspect ratios, along with popular image and photo sizes to help you create your next project.

What is Aspect Ratio?

The aspect ratio of an image is the proportional relationship of the width to the height. You will recognize it as two numbers separated by a colon in an x:y format. For instance, a 6 x 4 inch image has an aspect ratio of 3:2. An aspect ratio does not have units attached – instead, it represents how large the width is in comparison to the height. This means that an image measured in centimeters will have the same aspect ratio even if it was measured in inches. The relationship between its width and height determines the ratio and shape, but not the image’s actual size.

However, an image’s aspect ratio will change depending on the medium in which it is presented. The aspect ratio of an image displayed on a computer will be different from the aspect ratio of that same image displayed on a phone.

Aspect ratios are a critical part of web content because images need to be uploaded at different aspect ratios for different uses, like desktop vs. mobile or blog vs. social media. When you use the right aspect ratios it ensures your images are displayed as intended without stretching or resolution loss.

Let’s go over some common aspect ratios that are typically used across different spaces.

Common Aspect Ratios

1:1 Ratio

A 1:1 ratio means that an image’s width and height are equal, creating a square. Some common 1:1 ratios are an 8 x 8 inch photo, a 1080 x 1080 pixel image, or typically any profile picture template on social media sites (think Facebook). This aspect ratio is commonly used for print photographs, mobile screens, and social media platforms, but it’s not ideal for most TV or digital formats.

3:2 Ratio

The 3:2 ratio has roots in 35 millimeter film and photography and is still widely used for print sizes. Images framed at 1080 x 720 pixels or 6 x 4 inches are set within this aspect ratio.

4:3 Ratio

A 4:3 ratio is typically used for TV displays, computer monitors, and digital cameras. For every 4 units of width, there are 3 units of height, creating a rectangular shape. An image sized at 1024 x 768 pixels or 8 x 6 inches fits a typical 4:3 ratio.

16:9 Ratio

The 16:9 ratio is mostly seen on presentation slides, computer monitors, or widescreen TVs. This international standard recently replaced the 4:3 ratio for monitors and TV screens, creating a slimmer, more elongated rectangular shape compared to the 4:3 format. Common resolutions in the 16:9 ratio are 1920 x 1080 pixels and 1280 x 720 pixels.


How to Measure Image Size

Unlike aspect ratios, image size determines an image’s actual width and height in pixels. Image size is the dimensions of an image. You can measure image dimensions in any units, but you’ll typically see pixels used for web or digital images and inches used for print images.

It’s important to realize that two different images that have the same aspect ratio may not have the same image size, or dimensions. For instance, an image sized at 1920 x 1080 pixels has an aspect ratio of 16:9, and an image sized at 1280 x 720 pixels also has a ratio of 16:9.

Common Image Sizes for Web

If you are uploading images on the web, it’s crucial to understand image size specifications because incorrect image sizes may stretch or distort to fill fixed dimensions.

When you’re working on a website builder or content management system (CMS), like WordPress or Squarespace, the image size requirements will vary according to the theme or template you’re using. Often, the website builder will resize images for you so that they display correctly in several different formats. To therefore satisfy several different standard image sizes, upload an image that’s big enough to reduce without losing resolution and small enough to comfortably fit the width of a standard screen. Squarespace recommends uploading images between 1500 and 2500 pixels wide. Check your template or theme on whatever CMS you’re using to determine the right image size to upload. Similarly, social media websites will often resize images for you, but there’s a sweet spot that will ensure your images display correctly at a few different sizes.

Note: Don’t confuse image size with image file size. Image file size is measured in bytes according to how much space it takes up on a disk or drive (think kilobytes or megabytes).

These are some of the most common image sizes for web.

1920 x 1080 pixels

This standard image size is widely seen across high definition TVs, presentations, and social media cover photos. It follows the 16:9 aspect ratio.

1280 x 720 pixels

This size follows the standard HD format featured in photography and film. It fits the 4:3 aspect ratio.

1080 x 1080 pixels

You’ll see this 1:1 ratio image size used widely across social media, namely Instagram and Facebook posts.


Common Photograph Sizes

Have you ever wanted to print an image or design, but haven’t figured out which size to use? While you can print an image at any size you want, there are some standard photo sizes that will help you narrow down the options. Different sizes work in different environments; display larger prints or posters to bring attention to an event or service, and reserve smaller prints for display in homes or on a counter space.

Printed images and photos are usually measured in inches, although you might see centimeters used in some countries.

Note: If you’re framing an image, you might need two measurements: the image size and the matte size. A matte is a border around the image that extends to the frame. When you print photographs to frame, make sure you know the matte opening size.

These are some of the most common photograph sizes.

4 x 6 or 5 x 7 in

These sizes are standard and popular photo sizes, typically for displaying photography or smaller artwork.

8 x 10 in

This size is a step above the smaller popular photography sizes and is common amongst portraits and larger artwork prints.

8.5 x 11 in

Use this standard flyer size for advertisements displayed in areas with limited space. While not as noticeable as larger poster sizes, the flyer size still aims to alert others in smaller settings.

12 x 18 or 18 x 24 in

Larger than typical flyers, these standard poster sizes are ideal when designing for events or advertisements that need to reach a medium audience.

24 x 36 in

Advertisers use this poster size for outdoor advertisements and specified display cases along high traffic locations.

Article originally appeared on and courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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