How to Create a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo: Examples and Best Practices

by on 2nd February 2012 with 32 Comments

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Facebook announced Jan. 24 that it will be moving all users to the timeline format in the next few weeks. Although the change will be mandatory soon, you can make it early as some users have been doing since it was launched in September. Timeline is the new Facebook “wall” and highlights your personal information based on when it happened.

The biggest visual change included in Facebook timeline is creation of a cover photo. When someone lands on your page they not only see a small square profile image but also a large photo that you have selected for the top of your page. The shape can a little intimidating and includes a hole where the profile image rests. But you can crop or create your own timeline cover photo in just a few minutes. Follow along as we take a look at some great examples and advice for creating the perfect cover photo.


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Select a Cover Image

Technical Specs

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The cover photo covers the width of the timeline but does not change size based on browser width. It remains 720 pixels wide. The photo is 265 pixels deep, but gains a little added depth with the addition of the profile photo box. Because of the size requirement, Facebook recommends uploading a high resolution photo for the cover image and acknowledges that all photos, especially those will low resolutions, can be used as a cover photo.

But those numbers might be a little hard to work with. A standard photo print is 6 inches wide by 4 inches high. For comparison, the Facebook timeline cover image aspect ratio is about 4 inches wide and 1.5 inches high. For your cover photo you will crop nearly half of the vertical space out of the image.

You do not have to have a pre-cropped image available in Facebook to create the cover photo. As long as any photo is wide enough to cover the space, Facebook will let you drag the photo within the cover image box for use. But just any old picture is not going to make a striking cover image. For a timeline cover with pop, you need to take the extreme horizontal aspect ratio into consideration.

Crop a Photo

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Sort through your digital images to find something that you think represents you well. It can be a large headshot, you and a group of friends or a photo from your travels. When looking at photos, keep that super-horizontal shape in mind and remember that part of the bottom left of the photo will be covered.

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Open the image in photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and set cropping constraints. With the Constrained Crop Tool, you can see exactly what your photo will look like before cropping. Many find it easier to work using the proper aspect ratio in inches. Select the crop tool and then select 4 inches for the width and 1.5 inches for the height. (You will shave a sliver off the top or bottom of the photo using this method.) Crop using full resolution.

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Save your and upload to Facebook. You do not have to shrink the image to 720 pixels before uploading and remember to upload using high resolution. When adding a cover photo for the first time, click “Add a Cover” on your timeline; to change an existing cover photo, select “Change Cover” in the bottom right corner of the cover photo.

Create an Image

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You can also create an image for your cover in the same way you would crop. Start with a blank canvas that is about 4 inches wide by 1.5 inches high at a high resolution (300 dpi or higher).

Remember to leave space for the profile photo. It is positioned in the bottom left corner of the cover image and sits near the left corner and mortises into the image.

If you create your own image, you may consider adding a watermark or digital signature, such as a website address somewhere on the image. That way others are less likely to steal your work if you do not intend for it to be available for public distribution and if it is stolen, you will still get credit for the design.

Download an Image

A variety of websites are beginning to post Facebook timeline photos for download.

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The Detroit Free Press posted one just for Lions fans on their Facebook page. Designers at the newspaper created the timeline image with fans in mind. Using your profile photo you are almost inserted into the cover photo. They also used it as an opportunity to push branding as well, incorporating their logo into the image.

Several other websites, such as WhataTimeline.com and fbProfileCovers.com have a variety of premade, pre-cropped cover images available for free download.

What Works Well

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Look for images that are sharp and crisp when selecting a cover photo. Remember this picture is going to be large and details will show. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg uses a tight crop of a dog; Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow uses a photo from a game.

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Pick something unique. Although there are a lot of ways to grab timeline cover images, they will not really reflect what you do. If you are not comfortable with a giant photo of yourself, showcase some of your work or create an image just for Facebook. Comedian Dan Cook uses his image to promote his work.

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Remember the placement of your profile photo. Select a cover image that uses space well. Opt for something that has the “meat” of the picture to the right or top of the photo so that the square cutout does not cover the image being showcased. TV personality and former model Tyra Banks’ page uses the space well with her face positioned in one side of the cover photo.

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For a twist on the cover photo and profile photo combination, try to merge the images in a unique way. Facebook user Enri Pedernera created an image where he was part of the popular game Angry Birds and Mohammad L. Azzam created another fun image linking his profile and cover photos.

A Few Things to Avoid

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Avoid images that are pixelated, such as the cover photo from former NFL player and current Fox analyst Michael Strahan. The placement of the cover photo is also distracting and the profile photo ends up in a quite unfortunate part of the cover photo. Strahan’s image is in the top left above this profile picture and the part of the image where the eye is drawn contains no visual information that would suggest the photo is of him.

Stay away from images that might be offensive or showcase you or your work in a negative light. Also, avoid images that are widely distributed such as those shared on current Facebook walls or in mass emails. The profile image is visible to the public, according to Facebook, as are profile images or past profile and cover photos.

Conclusion

Facebook’s new timeline feature is about a lot more than just photos and while the reviews are mixed, you can get ahead of the curve by hopping on board with an impressive image. It only takes a few minutes and a little photo editing.

Remember that the image you choose is a representation of your digital self and should be considered carefully. Even though most of your profile may be limited to friends, the cover image is not. Take a peek at what your friends and groups you like are doing with their cover photos to help spark a little imagination.

Facebook is giving users seven days to preview their own timelines before they go public. So take a couple days to experiment with different photos and find something that works best for you.

Comments & Discussion

32 Comments

  • http://www.paulund.co.uk Paul

    Are timeline profile scoming to pages?

  • http://shinytoyrobots.com Robin Cannon

    Good overview. I keep meaning to get round to actually setting up my Facebook timeline properly!

    The timeline is a great opportunity to further develop a personal brand, and it gives a lot of opportunity for creativity. Moo.com has a pretty cool line of business cards that draw directly from your Facebook timeline design; a couple of my friends have them and they’re definitely a good way to brand yourself even if you’re not directly pushing a personal business.

  • http://www.justforthealofit.com/ TheAL

    Something worth noting: the image is saved as 720×266, but it’s displayed as 851×314, so noticeable quality loss is almost unavoidable.

  • naresh

    this is very nice article

  • Munnasr

    As time goes,we should look forward to searching newer thing.Try this and discover something http://www.timelinecover.com

  • geeves

    hi, nice article. well explained. This is an excellent topic. Those who want to know more about this can visit the link http://www.timelinecover.co

  • http://www.dandyforum.co.uk Neil Taylor

    You can also get “Gimp” photo editing software for free, if you do not have photoshop

    Cracking free software

    http://getgimp.com/lp/index.php?pk=4769

  • http://www.rozegarden.net Rozie

    This helped me to make a really nice image, unfortunalty facebook then wouldn’t let me add the timeline to my business page, only my personal profile. I guess I will have to wait while they get this glitch sorted

  • jack

    @Mohammad L. Azzam…steve jobs didnt say that…he just read it and quoted it

  • http://sitesbypalmer.com Palmer
  • steph

    I’ve been using ImageChef’s Facebook Timeline Cover Pic tools, I can customize my image way more than most of these other sites, and they have a bunch of templates I can just plug my photos into and have it create it for me too:
    http://www.imagechef.com/ic/timeline-cover/

  • jay

    http://coversforfacebooktimeline.com/ has thousands of free timeline covers

  • poppy

    TheAL says:
    “Something worth noting: the image is saved as 720×266, but it’s displayed as 851×314, so noticeable quality loss is almost unavoidable.”

    — has anyone found a workaround? it looks like the brands are doing something right and achieviving a good result using graphics, not photography (see http://www.facebook.com/fanta).

  • Shelly

    Also worth noting that Facebook doesn’t allow cover photos to include the following:

    Covers may not include:
    i. price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
    ii. contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
    iii. references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
    iv. calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

    https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

  • http://lojke.me Piotr Loj

    I’ve just posted “The most simple tutorial: How to create your New Timeline Fan Page”. (With 3 custom tabs! ).
    It’s based on WOOBOX application.
    I hope you will find this very helpful.

    http://wooboxtabs.com/cpn3iyx

    Cheers!
    Piotr

  • http://www.BetterBloggingWays.com Shamelle@BetterBloggingWays

    It’s taken me forever to get my head around the new changes to facebook – (I haven’t even sorted out the timeline on my social page, yet alone that for any sites I own). This is the best and clearest guide i’ve seen.

    Thank you. Off to create a cool cover for my facebook timeline for the blog. Should be up in a few hours. Looking forward for some constructive feedback if anyone’s up to it. Thanks

  • Chloe Smart

    Thank you for a good article and nice examples! For those who are not skilled at photo editing, there are some great free tools where you edit photos easily. The best one I’ve found is http://www.skandnet.com/timeline it’s easy to use and free. You can crop, scale and add a background color to your cover photo, profile pic & app images. These are shown on a preview of the Facebook Timeline and you download them to your computer in a zip file. Simple but effective!

  • Elo

    you can create your cover in your fan page with Ufanbuilder! http://www.ufanbuilder.com/en
    Look this video in fb: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150647311231396

  • http://www.timelinemods.com/ Danielle

    For timeline covers without watermarks visit http://www.timelinemods.com/ There are thousends awesome designs waiting for you

  • Maria Paul

    hi!! Is there any other site like http://www.jellycovers.com who designs facebook cover for free????

  • Shanelle

    When I go onto the Timeline page for Facebook people say click the button that says get it now but I cannot see any button that says that can someone help me please!!!!

  • http://www.korko.fr/ Korko

    If you wanna create a simple combination of your profile and cover picture without photoshop or gimp, you can also try this tool : http://www.korko.fr/clevercover/

  • http://timelineimages.com/ vio

    There’s a new site, just launched, with tens of thousands of timeline covers: http://timelineimages.com/

    First three time line images are free (it’s a launching offer), so hurry up and get yours!

  • https://www.facebook.com/taylorkwek Taylor

    Awesome tut! Here’s mine – https://www.facebook.com/taylorkwek

  • salamanca

    I like this one http://www.fbcovereffects.com it has many customization options

  • http://turtlementalaritmetik.com/ mental aritmetik

    Are timeline profile scoming to pages?

  • http://www.howdoblog.com Safeer Ahmed

    very nice article. I like this information.
    Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.facebook.com fuck you

    heeeeeeeeeeey

  • Noel

    You can try free websites to create a cover, like http://fbcover-designer.com

  • http://www.irtouring.com iran tours

    very good details to make a nice and attractive timeline cover, thank you

  • Amit
  • Marian

    Hi, i want buy one or more link on your site for my site
    : http://www.facebookcovers.info , if you are intrested please leave me a email.

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