Video format for YouTube: your questions answered

Questions on YouTube video format? Check out the best options for your YouTube video size, format, dimensions, quality, and more.

No matter what your social media strategy is, if it includes video, then YouTube should be your top priority.

Even with more people watching videos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, people still watch Approximately 5 billion videos on YouTube daily. Roughly one third of the internet’s users (more than 1 billion people) are on YouTube.

When you start planning your video marketing strategy for business, YouTube should be the first place you consider, followed by when to publish your YouTube video.

To get the most out of the videos you post to YouTube, keep these formatting tips in mind when you upload your videos:

What is YouTube’s Preferred Video Format?

YouTube itself states that the preferred video format is MPEG-2 with MPEG Layer II or Dolby AC-3 codecs. If unavailable, you can still use MPEG-4 format with H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec. Even if your video is in a different format, YouTube also supports the following:

  • MOV
  • MP4
  • AVI
  • WMV
  • FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM

Keep in mind that for the best results, YouTube recommends that you upload videos as close to the original high-quality source format as you can.

What are the Best Size and Dimensions for YouTube Videos?

One of the biggest advantages of YouTube over Facebook and Instagram is its flexibility when it comes to video sizes, resolutions, and dimensions.

You can upload both vertical and horizontal videos (though the latter is recommended), but YouTube’s default aspect ratio is 16:9. You can upload smaller aspect ratios, but YouTube will automatically pad them with filler to reach the default 16:9.

To get the most out of your video, you can choose from one of the following dimensions:

  • 426×240 (240p)
  • 640×360 (360p)
  • 854×480 (480p)
  • 1280×720 (720p)
  • 1920×1080 (1080p)
  • 2560×1440 (1440p)
  • 3840×2160 (2160p)

How Can You Get the Best Resolution on Your YouTube Videos?

The first step towards assuring your video looks as good as possible is to check the format and aspect ratio. While you can use any of the formats listed above, you should try to record in MPEG-2 to produce the highest quality videos.

Similarly, trying to get as close to the 16:9 aspect ratio will ensure your videos don’t have any blank borders and display properly.

Here are a 5 tips to consider to achieve the highest possible YouTube video resolution:

  1. Avoid including letterboxing and pillarboxing bars, since YouTube adds those automatically
  2. Keep your videos in their original aspect ratios. If you filmed it in 4:3, you can still upload it without converting
  3. Upload the highest resolution version you have available, as close to the source format as you can
  4. Choose the right resolution when uploading to make sure you don’t sacrifice quality when your video streams
  5. Include the right metadata for your video, as incorrect or false tags can lead to your video being flagged or removed

Some Great YouTube Video Size and Quality Examples

Here are three great examples of YouTube videos to help you visualize the potential results.



Red Bull:

These videos may have been filmed by pros, but with great tools such as Videoleap's video editor app, you can produce equally amazing videos.

Before you upload videos to YouTube, make sure you match the guidelines to realize the best results possible.

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