With Twitter starting to put more emphasis on the profile page, cover photos have become larger and more important than ever. The new layout features pinned tweets, moves the bio section over to the left column, and requires a large, horizontal header image at least 1500 pixels wide. Here are a few tips on how to choose an awesome image that will help you make the most of that space in order to create the perfect Twitter cover photo.

Graphic by Jordan Roland.
Graphic by Jordan Roland.

Twitter’s new cover photo size and image ratio (3:1) is very thin and horizontal — even more so than Facebook’s cover photo size. This unique rectangular shape rules out most vertical and many square images, but there are still plenty that will work. The cover should have a height of 500 pixels, but keep in mind that the top and bottom 50 pixels will often not be shown because of Twitter’s responsive design layout.

Meanwhile, when the cover displays on mobile, 250 pixels will be cropped out on each side to make an image with a 2:1 ratio. Because of this, it’s important to choose one that fits in the long horizontal space, but will still look good without the far ends displayed. To really make the most of the space, choose an image with more action on the right side (within the center 1000 pixels), so that it will balance your profile photo, which is placed on the left. Choosing an image with focus on the side, rather than in the center, also ensures that your profile photo will not obscure your cover photo on mobile.

Although the new profile layout offers a lot more real estate and it might be tempting to include text on your newer, bigger cover photo, keep in mind that your Twitter bio still displays on top of the cover photo on mobile, so text on the cover will display poorly to the 76 percent of Twitter users who access the service on mobile devices. Patterns and landscape images usually display well at any size or ratio.

Sunlit forest by Galyna Andrushko. 
Sunlit forest by Galyna Andrushko.

On the new Twitter layout, the bio is also less prominent, so it’s even more important that your cover photo grabs new visitors’ attention. Choose photos or illustrations that are striking and clear, with bright colors or bold contrast. The image should reflect the tone of your brand, whether you’re humorous, inspirational, tech-savvy, family-friendly, or adventurous.

Below are eight sample cover images that we tried out on the official @Shutterstock account, along with links to the original images, plus a lightbox with more photos that will help your Twitter profile stand out.

Close-up cat paws by Nailia Schwarz.
Close-up cat paws by Nailia Schwarz.
Aerial photo of Copacabana Beach by Celso Pupo.
Aerial photo of Copacabana Beach by Celso Pupo.
Kiwis by Johan Swanepoel. 
Kiwis by Johan Swanepoel.
Pink bird feathers by Nazzu.
Pink bird feathers by Nazzu.
Retro clocks by Mr. Lightman.
Retro clocks by Mr. Lightman.
Surfers on the beach at sunset by Viktoria Gavrilina.
Surfers on the beach at sunset by Viktoria Gavrilina.
Stack of books by R. Martens.
Stack of books by R. Martens.
Terraced rice fields in Vietnam by Bui Viet Hung.
Terraced rice fields in Vietnam by Bui Viet Hung.

Browse through our cover Images collection for more photos and illustrations that will make your profile pop on Twitter’s new layout »

Top image: Big-eyed pit viper by Takashi Images.

Once you’ve got your profiles and cover photos set up, here’s how to curate content for social media.