Optimal YouTube Video Thumbnail Size—A Guide on How To Grab the Viewers’ Attention

Do you feel like the YouTube videos you make aren’t getting the attention that they deserve, despite all the effort and creativity you put into them?

If that’s the case, you should sit down and determine what your videos might be lacking. If you’ve edited the video content to perfection using an engaging script and eye-catching effects, maybe the problem lies in the video’s thumbnail not grabbing the audience’s attention.

With more than 37 million channels, YouTube provides a wide range of content for its users. When people look for something interesting to watch, they browse through dozens, if not hundreds of videos and click on the ones that look like they provide the most compelling and high-quality content. This is why first impressions are crucial.

While your video title and description are important, keep in mind that YouTube is primarily a visual platform. This means that your video thumbnail is what the bulk of your audience uses to decide whether or not your content is worth checking out.

To make your YouTube video stand out, you need to ensure that the thumbnail is enticing, informative, and professional-looking. Aside from using your creativity, you need to pay attention to the technical requirements, including YouTube video thumbnail size.

What Are the Ideal YouTube Video Thumbnail Dimensions?

You need to make sure that your thumbnails follow YouTube’s technical requirements regarding file size, resolution, and aspect ratio. These are: 

Resolution Aspect Ratio File Size
1280×720 16:9 No more than 2MB

The minimum recommended width is 640 pixels. When it comes to the format, your thumbnail image file needs to be:

  • JPG
  • PNG
  • GIF
  • BMP
  • PNG

Let’s take a look at why it’s important to follow the guidelines for the recommended:

  1. Resolution
  2. Aspect ratio

YouTube Video Thumbnail Resolution

The resolution you use for the image determines how your thumbnail is going to look on different devices and in different placements—search results, YouTube Home screen, and recommended videos. 

While it may be smaller in search results and suggested videos, the thumbnail is shown in a larger resolution when you embed it on your website, for example. When someone opens your video via a link, they will see the thumbnail in the size of the video screen before they decide to click on the Play button. 

To get optimal results, the best course of action is that you use a larger image that YouTube will scale down. If your thumbnail needs to be scaled up, it will most likely show with unappealing artifacts, such as blur and pixelation.

YouTube Video Thumbnail Aspect Ratio

While you can upload images that use a different aspect ratio than the default 16:9, keep in mind that YouTube will conform them to its standards. 

If you upload an image that uses a wider aspect ratio, such as 4:3, the platform will add black bars to the side to fill the space. In case you use a wider image, such as a panorama shot, YouTube will add bars at the top and bottom.

The Difference Between Default and Custom YouTube Video Thumbnails


YouTube Default Video Thumbnail Suggestions


When you start to upload a video to YouTube, the platform will create three screenshots and suggest them as thumbnails for your video. Depending on the type of your content, the chances are that at least one of the suggested options is usable. The issue is that the screenshots are often blurry and can’t be compared to the quality of a custom thumbnail yourself.

Depending on whether you’re uploading a video to your channel or livestreaming it to your audience, you might want to check out how to add a custom thumbnail to your YouTube video.


YouTube Custom Video Thumbnail Example


With a custom thumbnail, you can get more creative with how you catch the eye of your viewers. Aside from choosing the best picture—be it a screenshot from the video or a new image—you can add various graphic and textual elements that attract attention and let your audience know what they can expect from the video. 

A custom thumbnail looks more professional and makes your video stand out from similar content on YouTube. It can help you build your brand image and make your videos recognizable to your followers.

Commonly Used Methods for Creating YouTube Video Thumbnails

When it comes to custom thumbnails, there are various approaches to making attention-grabbing thumbnails. If you’ve got experience using photo editing tools like Gimp, Canva, or Photoshop, you can come up with fantastic results.


YouTube Video Thumbnail Example #1


You can use a shot from your video that includes an action relevant to the content and piques the viewer’s interest. Plenty of YouTube content creators make such thumbnails more compelling by including various elements, such as text and a logo.


YouTube Video Thumbnail Example #2


Maybe you don’t want to use stills from the video, or your content doesn’t include the kind of footage that would make a compelling thumbnail. In that case, you can create an image from scratch using graphic and textual elements. Create a title with an eye-catching font and place it on a suitable background.


YouTube Video Thumbnail Example #3


The third method that YouTubers often use is a combination of the ones described above. You can use an image of yourself or another relevant character from the video by removing the background and replacing it with suitable graphics. You can add a variety of other elements, such as text or icons, to make your thumbnail both informative and visually appealing.

Tips for Making YouTube Video Thumbnails

Let’s take a look at some of the best tips for creating a YouTube video thumbnail that will represent your video properly and help you get more views. You should:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Use contrasting colors
  3. Pose for the image
  4. Use concise text
  5. Not mislead your audience
  6. Follow a consistent pattern

Keep It Simple

Making your video thumbnail informative doesn’t mean cramming it with as many elements as you can. You need to ensure that the image is concise and balanced. While it may look great in its original size, you need to keep in mind how people will see it on different devices. 

As much as 25% of mobile traffic around the world can be attributed to YouTube, which means that you need to pay attention to mobile users. If you make your textual elements too small, people won’t be able to read them and might skip your video. If you make the thumbnail a confusing mess by including too many elements, most viewers won’t bother trying to decipher the message it’s supposed to convey.

You should come up with a combination of elements that is well-balanced and tells your viewers exactly what they can expect from the video.

Use Contrasting Colors

To make the key elements on your thumbnail stand out, you should use contrasting colors. This is particularly the case when it comes to text and graphics. You need to contrast them with the background and other elements properly. Take a look at the following examples:


Examples of Using Colors in Thumbnails


The first thumbnail is separated into two sections, both contrasting white and purple in a way that makes the text stand out. The second thumbnail uses a shade of grey that is slightly lighter than the background, along with a red drop shadow effect. This choice of colors makes the text look like a smudge that can be rather difficult to read on smaller devices.

You can improve your thumbnail by increasing the brightness and saturation as well. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t overdo it and make the image look unnatural.

Pose for the Image

If the video focuses on you talking, presenting, or performing an action, you’ll often have trouble capturing a frame that isn’t blurry and shows you in the best light.

You should think about the thumbnail while you’re recording the video. Stop for a moment to pose or take a few photographs to ensure that you’ve got a high-quality image where you’re not making an awkward facial expression or causing blur by moving around.

Use Concise Text

When adding your video’s title or any other kind of descriptive text to your thumbnail, you need to be as concise as possible. The primary purpose of a textual element in the image is to attract attention—not to give an elaborate explanation of what the video is about. If a person is interested in checking out your video, they will read the title and description.

Instead of using the full title, you should focus on a few words that represent the gist of the video content, as you can see in the following example:


Example of Using Concise Text in a Thumbnail


Don’t Mislead Your Audience

While custom thumbnails allow you to be creative, you shouldn’t get too carried away. Keep in mind that the image needs to represent the video content accurately. If you use an eye-catching photo that has little to do with the actual content, your audience will see your thumbnail as clickbait. This will most likely hurt your brand and reputation.

Follow a Consistent Pattern

Consistency is crucial for creating a brand image that your viewers will be familiar with. You should choose a signature style and stick to it. This includes using the same:

  • Color palette
  • Logo placement
  • Font
  • Graphics 

This way, people will recognize your videos even if they aren’t subscribed to you. Ensuring that your thumbnails follow a pattern can also make your channel look more professional, like in the following example:


Example of a Consistent Thumbnail Style


Ensuring That Your Video Thumbnail Meets YouTube’s Policies

When creating a custom thumbnail for your video, you need to ensure that it meets YouTube’s community guidelines. This includes avoiding:

  • Hurtful and dangerous content
  • Violent imagery
  • Hate speech
  • Nudity and sexually provocative content

In case your thumbnail doesn’t follow YouTube’s guidelines, it will be removed, and you will be issued a warning. If you keep violating the policies, you’ll get up to three strikes. Each strike comes with a penalty:

First Strike You won’t be able to upload a custom thumbnail for a week
Second Strike You won’t be allowed to import custom thumbnails for two weeks
Third Strike Your account will be removed from YouTube permanently

If you don’t think that your thumbnail violates the community guidelines, you can appeal the strike. In case YouTube approves your appeal, the thumbnail will be restored.

InVideo—The Best Software for Creating High-Quality YouTube Videos


InVideo Homepage


Now that you know what makes an attention-grabbing thumbnail, you’ll have no trouble grabbing the attention of your viewers. Does your content meet the standards that you’re aiming for, though? If not, you need to find an easy-to-use video editing app with a range of features that will enable you to create jaw-dropping videos, even if you don’t have previous video editing experience.

There are plenty of video editing software solutions on the market, but if you’re looking for the cream of the crop, InVideo’s got just what you need.

Our platform’s user-friendly navigation makes it easy to get in the saddle of an experienced video editor. Compared to many other tools that have a steep learning curve, InVideo features a simple drag-and-drop editor that enables you to add professional-looking elements to your footage and create stunning videos in a matter of minutes. 

If you can’t figure out how to use a particular feature right away, you can rely on our tutorials and 24/7 customer support. For the latter, all you need to do is open the chat and type in your inquiry and one of our agents will be there to help you as soon as possible.

When it comes to content, we provide in-depth guides for creating different types of videos, including:

InVideo Video Editing Methods

InVideo is made to accommodate different kinds of preferences when it comes to video editing. While one of our platform’s greatest strengths is our vast selection of templates for all types of videos, you can also choose a more hands-on approach. We provide three methods for you to pick from:

  1. Premade Templates
  2. Blank Canvas
  3. Text-to-Video

Premade Templates


InVideo Premade Templates


InVideo features a library of more than 3,000 premade templates for various types of content. Each template is fully customizable, enabling you to edit its professional-looking elements and combine them with your footage to get jaw-dropping results.

You can browse through categories or use the search bar to look for a specific theme. To see whether a template fits your concept, you can preview it by clicking on it. Use the heart-shaped icon in the top-right corner of a template to add it to your Favorites

Click on Use this template to start working on a template of your liking.

Blank Canvas


InVideo Blank Canvas


If you’d rather make a video from scratch, you can use the Blank Canvas option. With this method, you start working with a stripped-down template that you can add any elements you choose. This includes all the features that InVideo has to offer, such as:

  • Textual elements
  • Overlays
  • Transition effects
  • Animations
  • Stickers

You can also make the most of our library of over a million royalty-free media files, including music, videos, and images. 



InVideo Text-To-Video


Using the Text-to-Video method, you can let InVideo turn your script or a collection of media files into a sequence of scenes. Aside from working on your video in the regular editor, this approach provides you with the Storyboard mode, where you can pay special attention to each scene.

If you import a script, you can choose the option for InVideo to pick appropriate media files for your scenes. You can replace them later with the images and videos you upload or the ones from our library. If you drag and drop multiple files onto the designated field next to each scene, they will play in succession. 

When you’re done creating and arranging your scenes, click on the Advanced Editor tab to continue working in the regular InVideo editor.

InVideo Pricing

If you want to try InVideo before you decide to invest in it, you can use the free version that comes without a time limit. You’ll be able to export up to 60 videos per month with a watermark, without paying a dime. If you like what our platform has to offer, you can upgrade to one of our paid plans:

InVideo Paid Plans
  • Annual—$10 per month
  • Monthly—$20 per month
  • Annual—$30 per month
  • Monthly—$60 per month

The Business plan has the same limitations as the free version of our software, excluding the watermark. If you want to use all InVideo’s features without restrictions, you can choose our Unlimited plan.

Want to start making professional-looking YouTube videos that will amaze your audience? Sign up for InVideo today!

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