How to Quickly Overcome Facebook Ad’s 20 Percent Text Rule

I will confess, Facebook’s 20% text limit in images was driving me crazy.  

I said some not-so-nice things about this rule! slang

I’m a Facebook Marketer, so trying to create a Facebook Ad that pertains to Facebook without using the word Facebook, or Facebook image representations, and keeping text to less than 20% is CHALLENGING!

I was pumped when Facebook announced the larger image sizes for link page posts in September….4x on mobile and 8x on desktop!  Sweet!  They also announced changes to their Ad image and Sponsored Stories images sizes (full guide here on Facebook, or access it here from our server if needed) to bring images sizes into a more cohesive order.  That was great.

But…..I’ve had dozens of Facebook Ads rejected.   Sometimes those ads would start, get some reach, then get squashed by Facebook as unapproved.  Generally, it was always too much text!   I’ve got the email memorized…

Screenshot 2013-10-03 14.35.53

So then I started using their tool noted in the link above, “You may upload your ad image to see why it is considered 20% text….”.   What I found was that their grids were not flexible!

See how the words, “eBook Guide To” in the title line below has Facebook’s grid line running horizontally through it? The “B” and “k” of “eBook”, and every letter of “GUIDE TO” have the line running through it.

facebook-ads-image-tool-1

Yep, they were dinging me as shown in image below. “Guide” for instance was being noted as in row 1 column 2 and row 2 column 2.

facebook-ads-image-tool-2

Any grid with text equals 100% of that box as having text in it!  Yes, so a slight overlap into a grid, means the whole box was included.  Go ahead, test your image here: Facebook’s Ad Tool to Test Text in Images:  https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay.

So, if I move my text slightly to fit within grids and not overlap grids where not absolutely necessary, BINGO!  I meet the criteria and stay within 20%! See below.

facebook-ads-image-tool-3

So, I modified my images, loaded up to Facebook to test, then repeated.

Loaded, repeated.  Loaded repeated…. trial and error until I got the text laid out to fit within grid boxes so that I was within the 20%.  This was painfully slow! I need to be efficient!!!

…..So I created my own PhotoShop Templates with the Grids!

Then I thought, “Well, others might need these as well!”  So I packaged them!

All you need to do is download this Zip file and the top layer in each is the grid.  Simply add your design layers below the grid layer, then turn the grid layer on and you immediately know if your image meets the 20% text guidelines, or if you need to move your text a bit so that it doesn’t get dinged by overlapping!

OPTION #2 – If you don’t want to download and have this layer in your images, you can also setup a 20% Grid in PhotoShop and turn it on or off.  Here’s how:

Go to Edit > Preferences > Grids, guides & Slices, and set your Grid to show a Gridline every 20 percent with 1 subdivision. To show the grid within Photoshop, go to View > Show and select Grid, or just use Ctrl plus ‘ to toggle it on and off.

Screenshot 2013-10-04 08.13.02

You can have text in up to 5 of the boxes that then appear on your image.

I hope this saves you time like it saves me time!

What’s included in the download:  Download this Zip file
1200 x 627 Page Post Link Ad Grid PSD (Facebook Recommended Size)
400 x 209 Page Post Link Ad Grid PSD (News Feed Link, in case you want the smaller size)
1200 x 900 Page Post Photo Ad Grid PSD (Facebook Recommended Size)

1200x627-page-post-link-ad

Why the different sizes?  Page Post Link Ads and Page Post Photo Ads use different sizes!

Don’t take my word for it, here’s the list from Facebook Ad Master Jon Loomer himself!

loomer-ad-image-sizes

So, hope this tip is helpful to all you creating Facebook Ads who had been getting digned for the 20% text limit!  Many times it means not reducing text, but simply moving your text to fit in the grid!

Again, if you want, you can pull down these PSD files.  Hopefully this saves you time if you are using Facebook Ads!

1.91:1 Aspect Ratio

This is the main thing to keep in mind if you are really wanting to be efficient. The width of your image needs to be 1.91 times the height. When this is the case, it will scale nicely across Desktop News Feed, Mobile and Sidebar Ads.  With this recent change to a much larger size for links, and the fact that with a single click on the photo or the text in a link post the user is taken to the link destination, this means that Photo Ads are less needed.  So if you don’t want to play around, just use the 1200 x 627 PSD.

That is all.

Infographic version:

Facebook Ad 20 percent tip - make your text fit and not overlap grid lines!

About Mike Gingerich

Author: Mike Gingerich, TabSite Co-Founder. Facebook and Social Marketer. Part geek, part marketer, total social media junkie. Mike is a writer and speaker, having presented at Social Media Week Lima, Social Media Camp (Canada) and more. He is a regular contributor to Social Media Examiner and Business2Community. Mike is a marketing, social media, and internet enthusiast with 10+ years experience building apps, consulting, and training businesses with winning integrated web and Social Media Strategies. Mike loves deploying tactics to increase awareness, sales, and maximize ROI in both B2B and B2C markets via digital media.

  • The guide and templates are really helpful at demystifying the arcane workings of Facebook – thank you for sharing your insight on this!

    • Hey, glad it was helpful Derek and thanks for letting me know!

  • I’m trying to clarify all these Fb changes; are they doing this to ALL picture posts for companies/Fb Pages or only the paid facebook ads you buy?

    Also THANK YOU for your work & sharing your template and the guide with us. very cool.

    • Glad to assist! The 20% rule only applies to images used in Facebook Ads. So if you are simply posting images to your company Page, no worries.

    • sorry, i thought this question did not post .. thank you so much!

  • First I’d like to thank you for your template & time.. but im trying to find out if this 20% text rule is for all company or page picture posts on Fb or just the paid ads we purchase from Facebook itself? I know many ppl say Fb “ads” when they mean Fb posts so im trying to clarify if this rule is just paid ads or all posts..? so if I made a normal picture posts on my page with a 10% 0ff a product blahblah text in the photo, would the rule apply? thank you in advance.

    • Just the PAID ADS Robert, NOT all posts. Hope that helps. So your example is fine to use as long as you don’t try to make that post a Paying Facebook Ad.

  • Alan Vesty

    Thanks Mike – very useful article, worth bookmarking. The 20% text rule doesn’t seem to be applied to all advertisers – right now 2/7 of the sidebar ads being displayed to me are easily 70% text. How do they get it right?

    • Hi. Often they get submitted and initially will run while Facebook is reviewing the ad. Then after the review it is canceled. So it is possible for you to see an ad that may not meet the requirements and will shortly be canceled.

  • Leopold31

    Yeah, I just had an ad rejected for the too much text in the ad rule. I had used almost the exact ad early in the year with no problems.

    What I’m befuddled by is, why? In the example you post above (ebook guide), you ended up with a post that is less visually appealing just to satisfy a rule. Their rule actually made Facebook worse, not better.

    In my case, I really can’t rework the ad to fit their text requirement. I’m not going to ruin what is tried and tested in other media. Facebook just won’t get to participate in the revenue.

    • Yes, I agree that they are limiting the creativity currently. Let’s hope that in 2014 they make some adjustments to this.

  • Tim Smith

    Mike, in a previous article, 5 Ways Real Estate Professionals can use Facebook to Increase Sales, you state that Facebook no longer has a text limit of 20% on Cover Images. If I utilize some of your suggestions from that article and my cover image has >20% text, will it appear in the updates?

    • Hi Tim! Thanks for asking. Yes, you can have a cover with greater than 20% text. You simply can’t run a Facebook Ad using that image then. It will load fine to the page and go out as a update in your page news feed no problem.

      • Tim Smith

        Thanks for your help. I appreciate your ideas and plan to implement some of your suggestions.

  • Sadia

    Thank you Mike you are a Life Saver. I tried to download the template but the link was broken. Then your Photoshop tip made my Day. Thanks a Million.

    • The template should be back up and ready to go now for download.

  • Jessica Alexander

    Like Sadia, I found the article incredibly helpful and informative but the template link seems to be broken. Would you please re-upload it? Thanks again for such a good clear article.

    • Hi. The template should be back up and ready to go now for download.

  • Good stuff Mike. Great tip. Thanks!

  • Derek Doernbach

    Such a time saver. Thanks Mike!

  • Sofia Chand

    Hi, your article is very helfpul, In addition to text, if a picture is imposed on the background does that count as text too?

    • The 20% only applies to text. Imagery or background imagery is fine.

  • Michael

    Thanks Mike. Great corroboration of evidence I’ve been finding/compiling even to this date, 9 months post-post. 😉

    And even “logos” count.

    We have a Restaurant account that is opening a new store in a fairly major metro, and their logo is all text, 2 x 1 size ratio, a fairly ‘fat’ shape. We had to comply with the ‘evil-grid’ in order to get the ad approved.

    Given Facebook’s reasoning as to “thwarting spam”, our ad was about as tasteful as one might design, and led to the corporate site. No spam, no scam.
    – – –
    Methinks some of the dictators at Craigslist held a seminar, and Facebook was major attendee, given of late how ‘arbitrary and/or automatic’ their rejections seem to come.

    But, as they own the ball on which we play this sport with billions of people, we can either waste time crying at the ice-wall (vague GoT reference), or treat it as yet another design challenge to over come.

    Cheers from Southwest Ohio.

  • Heidi F.

    Thank you, Mike, your info and tutorial was very helpful!

  • Miguel Parraud

    #!*@%#!!! Genial!! graciasssss!! (in spanish)

    Thank you very much!

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  • tasmax

    Great idea, thanks. Saves a lot of time.

  • Binu Madhav

    I have found out myself the secret by playing with the 5 boxes, but it took me half-a-day to figure it out. 🙂 Thanks, for the image dim table, very helpfull and for the zip file.

    • Glad it helps! Your question is a good question. It does apply to link Ads, any image in a Ad. What happens if you change the image after it is approved? I think it may run for a while with the new image but that they may detect it at a point and turn the ad off.

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  • Skylar

    Thank you!!!! This is awesome!!

  • you bet!

  • Isaí Rodríguez

    Thanks a lot!

  • jodypage

    Holy Moley, Mike. This is so helpful. I was trying to help a friend create a “Farewell” collage for the closing of her B&B and we put a little strip of text at the top and bottom — bunches of photos in between … and only boosted to fans. Got rejected. This will help in the future. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  • So helpful!!!

  • Ihab Soliman

    Thanks a lot.
    Q :
    I use a 900 by 900 AD for news feed as it provides higher height in the news feed.

    1- does the same rule of max. 5 boxes apply ?
    2- is there anything wrong with the size i use ? any side effects ?

    • Same rule applies for the max 5 boxes

      your size of image will mean some parts of your image will be cut-off to the viewer, that’s why we recommend sticking with the key sizes outlined.

      • Ihab Soliman

        it does show properly in the page time line?
        will it differ in the news feed?
        and if yes … what will be truncated – cut-off – the width or the height?

        thanks for ur reply

  • The grid tool is flawed. Just because the text touches more than 5 out of 20 boxes in a grid doesn’t mean the ad is more than 20% text. This is garbage and causes ugly layouts which is what the tool is supposed to help avoid, but it’s a stupid system.

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  • David Sanford

    Nice article, but their system is flawed and stupid. First off, how much revenue are they losing out on? Anyway, according to their grid, I am using 12% text, but I am still getting rejected with them stating the 20% rule as the cause of rejection. I have NO IDEA what to do next.

  • mspdgtt

    Facebook thinks my black and white drawings are text…It declines my
    images and the only text on there is a tiny watermark, well within one
    square 🙁

  • This is awesome, thanks! I tried the “built-in” Photoshop grid method and I can see this saving me many headaches. Thanks 🙂

  • David Towner

    This is by far, the most absurd policy I have ever encountered.

  • pmodernism

    Thank you, this was very helpful as facebooks grid tool wasn’t working today.

  • A Sameer

    Hello Mike,

    A very similar thing happened with me. Facebook notified me that I was not in compliance and rejected my promotion. They also sent me an error message stating that there are 2 colons in the link that I added. Pls help

  • Or Ellenbogen

    That was really helpfull!! Thank you so much..!

  • thanks for the info.
    handy photoshop files.

  • _+_

    Facebook attempting to make something subjective, objective. ‘Quality’ is defined by whom? Facebook. Facebook makes their money off of whom? Us. Then they take our money and tell us what to do as we make our measly attempts at attracting our own customers. Less text makes ads more engaging? Every day I find a new reason to despise this company. Just take the money and stop pretending to be making the world a better place.

  • Thank you so much! Saved so much time and stress 🙂

  • Joe Cuviello

    This is all an exercise in absolute moronic idiocy! Why doesn’t facebook just fix their ridiculous process so designers and developers don’t have to adapt ad layouts to their stupid grid for the moronic simpletons of the world? They have the ability to write artificial intelligence to do text recognition, pixel evaluation, or better yet, they can pay $.05 to poor saps with masters degrees, who sit in huts in the middle of 3rd world countries to do accurate calculations. So I would rather see we all keep rebutting their stupid process and let them lose the revenue, vs. adhering to this absurdly concocted process. If you are reading this, I recommend we all go to Ad Manager, find contact and feedback links, and submit comments telling them their gird blows and is incredibly inaccurate. My ad only has 12% text and is getting rejected. What your article does not account for, is that the layout of my ads will suck and it is not always possible to follow this grid. It’s 1000% better to get facebook to live up to an actual 20% area, and not a grid based estimator for 3 year olds.

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  • Joshua Gatab

    When i was promoting my page on the first time. Facebook did not reject it. I promoted my page recently and get likes and reach. I received a notification stating that my ad isn’t approved because im using too much text. I tried to make it short and seamless, removing period and comma but facebook still rejects it and i don’t know what to do next. Im just wondering what facebook doest want me to write just to promote this stupid ad.

  • Robin Ersek-Obadovics

    Thanks, that’s exactly what I found out with the Text Overlay Grid. Thanks for the download, it saved me some time, so I don’t have to recreate the FB Ad templates. Good stuff!