What Is the Aspect Ratio?

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Aspect Ratio is how the video industry describes the shape of your screen. In other words, the proportion of the height and the width of your screen. Older, CRT-based screens looked mostly square, so they had a 4:3 ratio. What this means is that for every 4 pixels in width the screen had, it had 3 pixels in height. So those screens are 33% wider than they are tall.

Modern, LCD-based screens are rectangular and have a 16:9 ratio. This means that every 16 pixels in width are accompanied by 9 pixels in height. Or that the screens are nearly twice as wide as they are tall. See the figure below for an illustration.

Aspect Ratio 4:3 and 16:9

If the proportions of your media are not the same as the aspect ratio for your screen, you will have black bars either above and below or to the sides of your media (letterboxing and pillar boxing, respectively).

Common Aspect Ratios

Knowledge of different aspect ratios is proving quite essential when deploying various digital signage solutions. As technology advances, digital signage continues to outpace its static counterpart. Nowadays, businesses are embracing interactive digital signage to boost user experience.

Interactive mediums involve customer participation, and the content could range from text, animation, video, audio, and even games. Here a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio would do just fine. For motion signage, businesses would always go for the highest resolution possible (4k), supported by the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Display screen aspect ratios

On the other hand, static digital signage includes audio, video, and images that do not change or adapt to the adjacent environment. The choice of aspect ratio will depend on the resolution needed, the type of content, and what the business wants to accomplish.


The 4:5 or the 1.91:1 is a vertical or portrait format (1080 x 1350px) commonly used for Instagram’s main feed. When you multiply this by 2, you get 8:10. This is the aspect ratio used with the popular 8″ x 10″ photos and can work well for digital advertising on relatively smaller screens.


The 16:9 is a widescreen aspect ratio widely used in video players. It’s one of the most common aspect ratios you’ll find in the latest TV designs. This 4k aspect ratio supports up to 4096 by 2160 pixels (px) and works well with high-definition marketing videos.


The 3:2 is a rarity. Originally used with 35mm film/photography. Some tablets, handheld game consoles, and laptops still use this formatting. A typical image framed at 6 X 4 inches or 1080 X 720 Px is available in a 3:2 format.


The 16:10 became popular between 2005 and 2008 when it was common with laptop displays. If you are using a native wide XGA projector, this would be the best option to choose. An XGA projector receives 1920 x 1080 px but outputs 1024 x 768. Some computer monitors still use this aspect ratio.

Aspect Ratio and Resolution

Aspect ratio and resolution are two terms that describe the format and the quality of an image you see on a screen. Understanding these terms will guide you when designing content for your digital signage. By now, you must be familiar with the aspect ratio. Let’s see what resolution is and how it relates to the image or video aspect ratios.

Resolution is the number of pixels/dots making up the picture/video on your screen. The more the number of dots/pixels in a picture, the higher the resolution, which means high-quality images and videos create a captivating display. To get the resolution, you multiply the width (W) times the height (H) while dividing the two by the aspect ratio.

Types of aspect ratios for Xhibit hardware

A higher-resolution video contains more details than a lower-resolution video and would need a larger screen to display everything. When displaying smaller file sizes, you’ll need to encode your high-quality video into a lower-resolution copy. Once you know what your audience wants to see, it’s easy to choose the right aspect and resolution. You’ll then proceed to develop content for your digital signage that will meet your audience’s expectations.

How to Check the Aspect Ratio

Your audience shouldn’t struggle to read the content in your digital signage. The content in your digital signage should be legible and well-optimized. Here are some answers to common questions when designing digital signage.

How to find the aspect ratio of video/image? Locate the pixel dimensions of the image or video you have (e.g., 4096 by 2160 pixels). Divide the long side (higher number) by the short side (lower number). Then take note of the resulting number (here, the answer would be 16:9).

How to check the aspect ratio of the monitor? Find the ratio of width to height by dividing the height by the width. Some monitors allow you to change the display’s proportions via settings.

How to Change Aspect Ratio

If the content source has fixed formatting and can’t modify the monitor’s aspect ratio to suit your viewing needs, you’ll need to use encoding software to change the proportions of the content. In summary, aspect ratio challenges can be solved by investing in the right digital signage hardware and software.

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