Video Marketing

Square or Landscape? Choosing a Video Format for YouTube

Megan O'Neill


As you likely know, it’s easy to create both landscape and square videos with Animoto—and vertical videos with our iOS app. YouTube supports square, landscape, and vertical uploads. So, when you’re sitting down to make a video, which one do you choose?


In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of using landscape, vertical, and square videos on YouTube. Plus, at the end we’ll touch on which format to use on other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

YouTube's dynamic video player

Did you know that YouTube’s video player on desktop supports square, landscape, and vertical videos? Here’s how a square video displays on YouTube on desktop:


Or, depending on what size your browser window is, your square video may display letterboxed within a landscape player like this:


On mobile, a square video will display as follows, depending on whether the viewer has selected to view in full screen or not:


The experience is similar with vertical videos—they’ll display letterboxed within a landscape player unless you choose to watch them in fullscreen on mobile.

The dynamic video player is a fantastic option for when you already have a square or vertical video. But should you create vertical or square videos to share on YouTube? We’ll get into that in the next section.

What aspect ratio is best for YouTube?

If you have a square video that’s already been produced, it’s definitely fine to upload it to YouTube. However, if you’re creating a video in the future that you know you plan to post on YouTube, create a landscape version.

Landscape is ideal because it will display the largest on desktop. Plus, if mobile viewers turn their phone, they can watch your landscape video in fullscreen as well.

When to go square

Although square might not be the most ideal format for YouTube, there are times when you’ll want to go square on other platforms. Did you know that square videos take up 78% more space in the social media and mobile news feed than landscape videos? That’s why it’s the recommended format for Facebook and Instagram.


Not convinced? We recently teamed up with Buffer to test the hypothesis that square would outperform landscape on social media. Buffer ran a variety of ads on their social media accounts, including square videos, landscape videos, and landscape videos letterboxed into a square player.

As Brian Peters says in a great recap of the test results, "After all was said and done, both square video and letterbox video (1:1 format) outperformed landscape video when it came to average engagements, views, and completion rate (%) - particularly on mobile devices."

So when should you use square video? You should go square when you’re making a video to post to social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On these platforms, square videos will take up more space and be more eye-catching - especially for viewers on mobile.

Want to learn more about video marketing on YouTube? Check out some of our other articles by clicking on the links below: