Your Facebook profile says a lot about you. It’s likely your most visible online presence, so it’s worth making it look good. Here’s how to pick a great cover photo.

Bear In Mind the Size Restrictions

Facebook’s cover photos come in a weird size. They’re 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels (roughly a 2.7:1 aspect ratio) in a desktop browser.

And they’re 640 pixels wide by 340 (about 1.88:1) pixels tall on mobile.

Any photo you upload is automatically displayed at that size and shape. You absolutely shouldn’t upload anything smaller than that because then Facebook will enlarge it, making it look blurry and ugly.

Facebook cover photos are also 100KB in size. Facebook automatically reduces images to this size, but if you’re interested in having the highest quality image possible, you should do it yourself.

RELATED: Why Your Facebook Photos Look So Bad (And What You Can Do About It)

Think How Your Image Will Look on Desktop and Mobile

Since your cover is going to look different on desktop and mobile (and also can appear as a full sized image in any aspect ratio when people click it), you need to think about how the photo will look in different places.

You are able to reposition your cover photo on the desktop, but on mobile, your cover photo is automatically cropped at the top and bottom to fit.

You also need to think about how your Profile Picture and the other interface elements affect your cover photo. On the desktop, your profile picture and name will obscure the bottom left corner. The Message, Friends, and other buttons will obscure the bottom right corner. There is also a subtle dark gradient, so things towards the bottom that aren’t blocked will look slightly darker.

On mobile, all the buttons are below the cover photo. Your profile picture, however, blocks off a chunk of the bottom center.

All this means that you should ideally choose a photo where the subject matter is focused in the center of the image. If it’s at the bottom, it’s just going to end up cropped off or blocked by interface elements.

Pick Something Meaningful

Your cover photo is public. It’s one of the few things that anyone who views your Facebook page can see. This means you should probably pick something that has a bit of meaning or represents you. I tend to use photos I took around the area I’m from. Other people go with quotes that mean a lot to them, photos of their family, images of their hobbies, and so on.

Try a 360º Cover Photo

There was a big trend a couple of years ago where people tied their profile pictures and cover photos together as one big image. Unfortunately, given that your profile picture appears in different positions depending on what device you use (and mobile is very popular), it doesn’t really work any more.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. Facebook now supports 360 degree cover photos, which are certainly eye catching and different. Just take a 360º photo and upload it as your cover photo. You can also use a panoramic image that isn’t a full 360º.

RELATED: How to Post 360 Degree Photos to Facebook

The big difference with 360º photos is that while they only display as a 851px by 315px (or 640px by 340px on mobile) image, people who visit your page are able to drag the image to see the rest of it.

Cover photos, along with profile pictures, are the first thing people see when they visit your profile. Take the time to pick a good one.

Profile Photo for Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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