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Choosing the Right YouTube Video Format For Better Engagement

Ryan Gould Clock IconLast Updated on: June 07, 2021

YouTube provides limitless opportunities for your videos to be seen and shared. As the second most popular site in the world, it’s hard to find a better place to house your videos and build an engaged audience. But, if you want to generate as much engagement with your videos as possible, they need to be in the right format.

Using the right YouTube video format will ensure your videos are as high quality as they can be, which means more viewers will watch until the end, and more people will like, comment, and share your uploads.

YouTube supports several video formats – use the wrong one, and your video will look grainy and unprofessional. In fact, it might not even upload in the first place.

Because there are a lot of different YouTube video formats, it can be easy to pick the first option that looks good. However, it might not be the best option for you or your subscribers.

Let’s take a more detailed look into it. Shall we?

What YouTube Video Formats Are Available?

YouTube Video formats

What Exactly Is A YouTube Video Format?

The format of your videos is simply the encoding method that decides how many bits are needed to store a video frame. Most of the time, the format you choose won’t dramatically affect your videos’ quality, but there might be some small differences.

For best results, YouTube recommends that the videos you upload are as close as possible to the original high-quality source format.

YouTube Video Size and Dimensions

YouTube video dimensions fall into a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. The platform will add black bars (known as letterboxing or pillar boxing) to videos that are in a different aspect ratio so that the player for all videos is of the same size.

Youtube video size

Don’t worry too much if your videos don’t adhere to this ratio. It will entirely depend on the filming equipment you use and whether you’re uploading a portrait or landscape video. YouTube does a great job of automatically adjusting the frame of videos that don’t fall into the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Essentially YouTube video size doesn’t matter a great deal. The platform works hard to optimize every video that is uploaded so that they all provide an enjoyable watching experience for viewers.

As mentioned above, you can upload both vertical and horizontal videos. The latter tends to look better as they fill out the frame better than vertical videos.

Best video format for youtube

YouTube allows users to upload videos using the following dimensions:

  • 426×240 (240p)
  • 640×360 (360p)
  • 854×480 (480p)
  • 1280×720 (720p)
  • 1920×1080 (1080p)
  • 2560×1440 (1440p)
  • 3840×2160 (2160p)

Your best option is to upload your video using the highest dimensions possible within the format you’ve chosen. It is because YouTube creates versions for the other dimensions off the back of your original file. So, if you only upload your video to the 240p dimensions, the videos in a larger dimension are going to lose a lot in terms of quality.

Youtube video dimensions

How To Maximum File Size For YouTube Videos?

YouTube limit uploads to 128GB or 12 hours – whichever is less. But, you won’t get anywhere near to this limit with short, snappy, and engaging videos. Your videos need to be easily consumable in short chunks if you want your engagement rates to stay high. Peoples’ attention spans are getting shorter by the day, and a minimal number of viewers will happily sit back and watch a 12 hour YouTube video.

What’s the Best Video Format For YouTube?

Based on YouTube’s recommendations, the best video format is .MP4. To upload the best quality videos possible, the platform also suggests opting for the following:

  • H.264 codec – this allows you to upload a small file size without compromising the quality of the video
  • 15-20 Mbps
  • The standard 16:9 aspect ratio – this is specifically crucial for mobile phones, where 70% of YouTube views come from. It is purely to make sure that the video can scale to full screen without losing its quality
  • An audio codec of AAC-LC

Using A YouTube Video Editor

High-quality and engaging videos are always well-edited. You don’t have to have a full editing suite to get the best results, though. There are plenty of YouTube video editors available that can help you edit scenes, add text and subtitles, and enhance the visuals of your videos.

Most YouTube video editors will also let you save your video in a variety of different formats so that you can choose the best one suited for you.

YouTube video editors

Giving Your YouTube Videos A Facelift

Engagement is vital for a successful YouTube channel. High-quality videos make it easier for viewers to like, comment, and interact with your uploads. These high-quality videos have to look good, which means doing a bit of post-production work, if necessary.

Chances are, you’ll need to edit some scenes, brighten up the visuals or add a filter, and incorporate some subtitles. All of these additions make your videos more compelling – short and snappy scenes will encourage viewers to focus; bright videos are easier to see and understand, and subtitles will help you reach a wider audience.

Using a video editor can give your videos a branded look and feel, even if you simply add an intro or outro to every upload.

Quickly Edit And Upload

Creating YouTube videos can be really fulfilling. Eventually, seeing the number of views increasing makes you feel good, and knowing that people are watching and enjoying your creations is invaluable. But the thought of creating, editing, formatting, and uploading a video can be daunting. Luckily, with an online video maker, you can quickly edit your videos and upload them.

Video maker

A tool like InVideo has a massive selection of templates, including promo video templates, that you can drag and drop to fit your video requirements. It will help give your videos a cohesive feel and ensure that your YouTube channel is easily recognized.

The ability to edit and upload videos quickly by using a video maker or a promo video maker means that you can create more content and provide more opportunities for engagement.

How To Upload A Video On YouTube?

Once you have decided on your chosen YouTube video format, make sure your video aligns with YouTube’s other requirements. And once you have edited your video, it’s time for you to upload it for your audience.

If it’s your first time in uploading a video on YouTube – don’t stress out. The process is really simple.

YouTube Video Creation

Firstly, make sure you are logged in to your YouTube account. Once you’re in, you will see a camera icon with a plus sign on it at the top right-hand side of your screen. You can access this video via the homepage or from your Channel.

It is the create button. Click on it, and you will be taken to YouTube’s upload portal.

Upload a Video to YouTube

You’ll be invited to select the files you want to upload. This is where you will choose your edited video in the YouTube video format.

YouTube Metadata and Keywords

Your video will automatically start uploading. While it’s uploading, you can edit the title of the video, add in a description with metadata and keywords so that it’s easily searchable, and change the thumbnail either by selecting a still that YouTube has captured or by uploading your own.

Once the video is uploaded, watch it again in every dimension to check the quality and to see if it fits the recommended aspect ratio or if YouTube has added letterboxing to it.

Your video is now uploaded and ready to go. You are free to share it with your audience and encourage engagement.

Here’s A Recap Of Selecting And Uploading In The Right YouTube Video Format:

  • Don’t add letterboxing and pillar boxing bars to your videos as YouTube will add these automatically if your video doesn’t fit the standard 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Keep your videos in their original aspect ratios, if possible. Even if you didn’t film your video in 16:9, you can still upload it without converting, which will keep the video’s quality as high as possible
  • Upload the highest resolution version you have of your video and keep it as close to the source format as possible
  • Choose an upload a resolution that matches the resolution of your original source file so that you don’t lose out on quality when your video is live

The Right YouTube Video Format Leads To Higher Engagement

There’s a connection between the YouTube video format you use and the engagement you receive. Higher quality videos tend to keep the viewers watching for a longer time, which means it’s imperative to choose the right aspect ratio, and format for your videos.

Once you have chosen your desired YouTube video format and your upload matches the original source file as closely as possible, you can dive into editing your videos. It will help give your videos a branded look and a professional feel. They will also be far more recognizable in searches and will provide viewers with a cohesive experience. As a result, people will be more likely to engage with your videos by liking, commenting, and sharing them.

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