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How To Make an Instagram Reels Cover That Pops [Templates]

You don’t need to be a professional designer to create an amazing Instagram Reels cover. (Just use our professionally designed templates)

Hannah Macready November 16, 2022

Looking to create an Instagram Reels cover that really pops? You’re in the right place! Crafting the perfect cover for your Reel is essential to drawing in viewers and keeping them engaged with your content. Not only will a great cover help your Reels stand out, but it will also give your followers an idea of what to expect from your videos.

The best part? You don’t need to be a professional designer to create an amazing Instagram Reels cover. Let’s explore how to change your Instagram Reel covers, some templates to get you started, and how to make sure your covers look great on your feed.

Get your free pack of 5 customizable Instagram Reel Cover templates now. Save time, get more clicks, and look professional while promoting your brand in style.

How to add an Instagram Reels cover

By default, Instagram will display the first frame of your Reel as your cover image. But, if you plan on sharing your Reels on your Instagram profile grid, you’ll want to add a cover that’s eye-catching and relevant to the video. Plus, something that fits into the overall vibe of your profile.

To choose a cover image for a new Instagram Reel:

1. Tap on the + sign and choose Reel to begin creating.
create new reel on instagram

2. Select the video you want to upload or record a new one.
new instagram reel video in creator

3. Add audio, effects, and filters as desired.
filters and effects in instagram reels builder

4. When you’re ready to add a cover, tap on the Edit cover button, shown in the preview of your new Reel.
edit cover button shown in instagram reel upload

5. Choose the image you want to use as your cover. You can use an existing still from your Reel or select a custom Instagram Reel cover from your camera roll.
still frame and custom cover photo options shown in instagram reel upload


6. Tap on Done when finished to upload your Reel.

To edit the cover photo of an existing Reel:

1. Choose the Reel you want to edit from your profile. Then, click the three dots in the top right corner of the Reel and click Edit.
edit existing instagram reel cover image

2. Select the Cover button shown on the preview of your Reel.edit cover button on existing instagram reel

3. Here, you can choose to use an existing still from your Reel or select a new Instagram reel cover from your camera roll.
options for choosing still frame cover for instagram reel or custom cover

4. Tap on Done twice and review the Reel on your Instagram feed.

Be sure to experiment with different cover photos until you find the perfect one for your Reel and feed.

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How do you make an Instagram reel cover?

Try creating a custom reel cover photo to add a little personality to your Instagram Reels. Custom Reel cover photos show your audience that you’re creative and willing to put in the extra effort to make your content stand out.

modernmillie instagram feed showing custom instagram reel covers

If you want to design your own Instagram Reel cover, you can use a template (like the ones we made – found below) or create one from scratch.

Canva is a great option for creating custom Instagram Reel covers. With Canva, you can select from a variety of templates or create your own design. You can also use tools like Adobe Express, Storyluxe, or Easil to create your own Reel covers.

If you need help designing your Instagram Reels themselves, check out these handy Reel templates to get started.

When creating a custom Instagram Reel cover, be sure to consider the following:

  • Your cover photo should represent your brand, personality, and the content of your Reel.
  • Use bright colors and bold fonts to make your cover photo stand out.
  • If using text in your cover photo, use a legible font and make it large enough to be easily seen.
  • Avoid using too much text or complex graphics.

Make sure you use high-quality images and video in your Instagram Reel cover photo. Remember, this is the first thing people will see when they come across your Reel, so you want to make a good impression.

hootsuite instagram feed showing custom instagram reel covers

Instagram Reels cover sizes and dimensions

All Instagram Reels are shown in a 9:16 aspect ratio (or 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels). Instagram Reel cover photos, on the other hand, will vary depending on how they’re being viewed.

  • In your profile grid, Reel cover photos will be cropped to 1:1
  • On the main Instagram feed, or in someone else’s profile, your Reel cover photo will be 4:5
  • On the dedicated Instagram Reels tab, your cover photo will be shown in full 9:16

This means that you’ll need to design your cover photo accordingly, keeping in mind that it will be cropped in different ways depending on where it’s shown.

instagram reel cover shown in full aspect ratio

The main thing to remember is that your cover photo should be recognizable and attention-grabbing even when it’s cropped. Make sure the most important elements of your design are placed within the center of the image, where they won’t be cut off.

instagram reel cover shown on instagram feed

If this seems tricky, don’t sweat it. We’re sharing some pre-built templates below to make your Instagram Reels cover stand out.

Free Instagram reels cover templates

Don’t feel like starting from scratch? We’ve created these handy Reels cover templates to help you design wow-worthy Instagram Reels.

Get your free pack of 5 customizable Instagram Reel Cover templates now. Save time, get more clicks, and look professional while promoting your brand in style.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Click the Use template button to copy the templates to your personal Canva account.
  2. Choose from five professionally designed themes and swap in your content.
  3. That’s it! Download your custom cover and add it to your Reel.

Frequently asked questions about Instagram Reels covers

Can you put a cover on Instagram Reels?

Yes, you can add custom covers to your Instagram Reels or choose to show a still frame from your existing video. The benefit of using a custom Instagram Reel cover is that you can design it to match your brand. Custom covers also help build your brand’s overall look and feel on Instagram. Creating a cohesive design for your Reels covers can bring an added aesthetic edge to your Instagram profile.

The benefit of a still frame is that it gives direct insight into what your audience can expect from your Reel. Plus, you won’t have to spend time creating a custom cover.

Why did Instagram remove my Reel cover?

In some cases, Instagram may remove your Reel cover if it violates the platform’s guidelines. This could include using copyrighted material or images that are NSFW.

If your Reel cover is removed, you’ll need to upload a new one that complies with Instagram’s guidelines. If you feel the removal was in error, you can also appeal the decision using the appeal form.

Do I need a Reel cover?

Yes, every Instagram Reel has a Reel cover. If you don’t choose one, Instagram will automatically select a thumbnail from your video. Keep in mind, Instagram picks at random. This means your cover could be a great shot or a not-so-great one.

Creating a Reel cover gives you complete control over how your video appears in the feed. And, since it’s the first thing people see, it’s worth taking the time to create a Reel cover that accurately reflects the content of your video.

How do I change my Reel cover after posting?

You can now change your Instagram Reel cover photo after posting. Simply navigate to your Reel, click on the three dots to edit, and select the Cover button. You’ll be prompted to choose an existing still frame or upload your cover image.

What size is the best Instagram reel cover size?

Your Instagram Reel cover will be shown in a 1:1 aspect ratio in your profile grid and 4:5 on the main feed. However, when someone is viewing your Reel on the dedicated Instagram Reels tab, they’ll see your cover photo in full 9:16.

To make sure your Instagram Reel cover looks great no matter where it’s being viewed, we recommend using an image that’s 1080×1920 pixels and keeping any important details within the central 4:5 area.

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By Hannah Macready

Hannah Macready is a freelance writer with 12 years of experience in social media and digital marketing. Her work has appeared in publications such as Fast Company and The Globe & Mail, and has been used in global social media campaigns for brands like Grosvenor Americas and Intuit Mailchimp. In her spare time, Hannah likes exploring the outdoors with her two dogs, Soup and Salad.

Read more by Hannah Macready

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