The best billboards demand your attention with bold fonts, facial messages and bright, eye-catching graphics. The best Facebook ads take a completely different approach.
If you want to reach potential customers on Facebook and engage with them, you need to create ads that blend seamlessly with the rest of the content on their news feeds. This means simple, high-quality images, straightforward messages, and most importantly: minimal text.
Facebook has found that the best-performing ads include images that do not contain text. Previously, they had a “20 rule rule” that said that in order to run an image-based ad on Facebook, your image must have less than 20 texts. It even developed a text overlay tool to help advertisers find out if their images contain too many words.
The 20% rule is no longer required, and the Facebook Overlay tool is disabled. However, it is still prudent to adhere to the 20% rule and to keep text to a minimum in ads based on your image.
Facebook 20 ٪ Principle
The Facebook 20 rule was a requirement that rejected Facebook ads that contained more than 20 texts in their images. Although the rule no longer applies, Facebook still recommends adding a 20-text text-to-image ratio. This recommendation applies to both single image and carousel ads running on Facebook and Instagram.
It is important to note that you should only use the 20 rule rule for the text inside the images in your ad. It does not include the text of your ad outside the images, such as the description copy or call to action button.
There are some exceptions to the 20 rule rule, including book covers, album covers, event posters, video games, and some product images that contain text (for example, a granary).
Text-based logos are no exception to the 20% rule. You should count your logo when deciding how much text to add to your image.
So, why did Facebook have a 20% rule, and why is it still relevant today? It all depends on what users want to see in their news feeds. Advertising with low overlay text performs significantly better than crowded images with text, so sticking to the principle creates a better experience for both users and advertisers.
Facebook Text Overlay Tool
The Facebook Text Overlay tool is no longer enabled, but still choose the text you want to include in your photos.
When you’re creating an ad, it can be difficult to determine the exact percentage of text that covers your image. The following examples will show you some ways in which you can add text in a way that will naturally engage.
Before designing your ad, be sure to check out Facebook’s guidelines for glasses and size and image-based ads for your photos.
1. Advertise with acceptable text overlay.
Your best advice when creating a Facebook ad is to use less text.
In this example of an ad image, there is only a small text-based logo and no other copy. This image contains 4 text.
An ad with a simple image like this will blend more easily into users’ news feeds and is more likely to gain exposure and engagement among your target audience.
Best of all, it can arouse curiosity because it doesn’t share much. Instead, viewers will have to read the details to find out what the ad is about.
2. Advertise with minimal text overlay.
In this next example, there are two lines of text, bringing the text rate to 12%. The logo has been removed from the corner.
It still works because text 20. does not cover the image. Text also helps viewers understand what an ad is.
However, consider adding a copy to the body of your ad instead of your image. Because the image and description appear at the same time, you can use the body only to describe your presentation.
3. Advertising with excessive text overlay.
This last example is exactly what Facebook doesn’t want to see. The text-to-image ratio is 44%.
Although the copy is well written and the presentation is clear, this ad contains a lot of text on the image. The information shown here can be easily incorporated into the body copy of your ad, making the user’s news feeds look much cleaner.
It may be tempting to throw such important information at your photos, but you run the risk of isolating users who are blocked by busy copy.
Now that you know what a good ad looks like, how can you put it into practice in your ad? Let’s take a look.
Facebook Text Overlay Best Practice
The best way to get users’ attention on Facebook is to use an eye-catching photo without any text.
The 20 rule rule is not just an arbitrary recommendation – it helps advertisers reach their target audience more efficiently, and prevents users’ news feeds from being overwhelmed by destructive ads.
If you want to add text to your image, you should use the following best practices for embedding text on your Facebook ads.
1. Select the correct font size.
Believe it or not, the size of the font is even more important than what you add to your image.
Smaller font sizes will naturally not take up much space, which will reduce the proportion of images to your text. Larger font sizes will get you over 20 rules, even if you only add two or three words. That said, you don’t want to make the text too short. Otherwise, viewers will have to bend over to read it.
The font you choose will depend on the size of your image and whether you are adding a caption or an entire sentence. For titles, try to stay below 42 pixels. For sentences, try to stay close to 24 pixels. Play with the font size to work best for the image.
2. Just add a headline or a line of text.
There’s no reason to include more than one line of text in your Facebook ad. You have an ad body so that there is enough context for viewers to click on your link.
If you add text, consider adding only one title – such as offer, call to action, or discount. This will maximize the effect of the text and ensure that viewers see something that compels them to click.
For example, “Buy 1, Get 1 Free,” “Apply Now” and “30% Off” are all eye-catching phrases that will guarantee a second look and won’t take up much space. This brings us to the next point: select only the best and most eye-catching text to add to your image.
3. Choose eye-catching, effective text.
When adding overlay text to your Facebook ad, be sure to choose a line of text that 1) grabs the attention of your target audience and 2) indicates the value if they click on your offer. ۔
In the main body of the ad, you can go into more detail about your product or offer. But only add text to your picture that will help someone decide if they want to read more.
4. Use the Text Overlay Alternative tool to view the text-to-image ratio.
Although Facebook’s Text Overlay tool is no longer available, you can use an alternative that mimics the original Facebook tool. We recommend testing them:
They are practically the same, so choose the one that is most convenient for you and your browser.
To use them, upload your image and select the squares containing the text. On the right hand column, the tool will tell you if you are above or below the 20% text-to-image ratio. That way, you’re sure you’ve added a lot of text to the image.
5. Take advantage of the grid to align the text.
In a free tool like Kenova, you can usually overlay a grid on your design as you build it. Get on the bus. Elements > Grid And scroll until you find a grid that works best for your design. (Be sure to reduce the transparency of the grid so that you can see your ad beyond that.)
Use the grid as a guiding tool to align your text and make sure it doesn’t take up too many boxes. If you have nine boxes in your grid and one line of text spans three boxes horizontally, you know that the text is very large. If it only takes one box, it can be too small.
Without the grid, you can just lean on the gut feeling – and while your gut feeling can be very helpful, it’s best to refer to text overlay with maximum accuracy.
The 20% rule will help you create better Facebook ads.
Although Facebook no longer requires advertisers to follow the 20 rule rule, these are still valuable guidelines for adding text to your Facebook ads. Keep text to a minimum and you’ll make sure your Facebook ads make as much impact as possible, significantly increase your ROI, and engage your audience with your brand. ۔
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.