Understanding Facebook’s 20% Text Rule Limit

Updated: July 19th, 2020. 

This article was updated to reflect more up-to-date information on Facebook’s 20% rule and graphic guidelines since its original publish date. 

Facebook doesn’t want its newsfeed looking like a coupon catalog. They are seeking a clean look and feel.

Most businesses want to showcase their great product and pricing. They want to promote when they have a sale or an upcoming event. This could lead to a lot of clutter in the posts being distributed by businesses.

Facebook realized back in 2013 that in order to maintain the integrity of their newsfeed, they needed to set guidelines for advertisers. That’s why they created the 20% rule. In order to run an image-based ad on Facebook, your image(s) must contain less than 20% text.

Facebook wanted advertisers posts to flow naturally in the newsfeed with what your friends and family members are posting.

Related Blog: Facebook and Instagram Advertising Tips for Small Businesses 

Understanding the Structure 

It’s important to understand the structure of a Facebook post. There is so much room for your messaging within other components of the advertisement, such as the headline, post text and description that a lot of text on top of your image isn’t necessary. Yet many advertisers didn’t realize that in order to create a great advertisement on Facebook, the image didn’t need a lot of text associated it.

  • Image/Video 
    • The image/video is going to take up the most real estate with your advertisement, making it one of the most important components. You want to immediately capture the attention of your target audience. Your image/video should have a natural tie-in with your messaging.
  • Headline 
    • Your headline is below the image. This is larger text that, making it impactful, drawing your audience into other parts of the ad.
  • Post Text 
    • This is text that goes above the image and allows you to be more descriptive. You are given 500 characters before it cuts off. When you draw people in with your image and headline, they’ll be enticed to read the post text.
  • Call-To-Action Button
    • This is where your target audience would click through to learn more information. Do you want them to “learn more” or are you wanting them to “shop now.” Below are all of the call-to-actions on Facebook:
      • Book
        • Book Now
      • Contact
        • Call Now, Contact Us, Send Email, Send Message or Sign Up
      • Download
        • Play Game or Use App
      • Learn
        • Learn More or Watch Video
      • Shop
        • See Offers or Shop Now
  • Description 
    • The description appears below the headline. It’s not that noticeable compared to the image, headline and post text. If you do a good job with your ad, your target audience will be so compelled with the other components of your advertisement that they read your description and then click on the call-to-action button!
  • Comments/Likes/Engagement 
    • There is a 98% chance that you would see the ad with positive comments outperform the ad with negative comments in terms of CTR (all) and CTR (link) respectively. Monitoring your comments can create upsell opportunities.

Monitoring the 20% Rule 

Facebook has a tool to determine how much text is in your image. You simply upload your image and it will tell you whether the proportion of text to image is too high, If your text ratio is too high, your ad may not reach its full audience.

If you don’t use this tool and create an advertisement with too much text in the image and try and run the advertisement, you’ll likely receive a notification that your advertisement wasn’t approved or that your audience reach will be limited.

Understanding Placements 

Facebook has different placements for where your advertisement can appear. That’s another issue with adding too much text in your image. If you designed your image for desktop, the text will likely be too hard to read on mobile. This is another reason why it’s best to keep limited text on your images.

Below are all of the placements where your advertisements can appear.

  • Facebook News Feed
  • Instagram Feed
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Facebook Video Feeds
  • Facebook Right Column
  • Instagram Explore
  • Messenger Inbox
  • Facebook Stories
  • Instagram Stories
  • Messenger Stories
  • Facebook In-Stream Videos
  • Facebook Search Results
  • Messenger Sponsored Messages
  • Facebook Instant Articles
  • Audience Network Native, Banner and Interstitial
  • Audience Network Rewarded Videos

If you try and create customized ads for each platform, you’ll be putting a lot of time and effort into the process that doesn’t guarantee better results. This is why it’s good to follow Facebook’s 20% rule and keep the images limited on text. Don’t forget that Facebook provides you with the option to crop your photos based on ad placements, which can help improve performance.

In Closing 

Keep your text limited on photos associated with your Facebook ads. There’s enough room for text elsewhere within the advertisement, such as the headline, description and post text. If you are going to use text on your Facebook or Instagram advertisement, utilize Facebook’s text overlay tool. Don’t forget that there are so many placements where your advertisements can populate that having text on the ads can make it hard to read in certain placements, such as mobile.