Are You Falling Foul of the Facebook 20% Text Rule on Images?

Tia Fisher Freelance writer, Freelancer, mostly blogging for eModeration

Posted on February 18th 2013

Are You Falling Foul of the Facebook 20% Text Rule on Images?

ImageDid you know that Facebook is now strictly enforcing its "20 percent text" rule on images?

Back in Dec 2012, Facebook tightened up a rule which had been around since the implementation of the Timeline. Previously, Facebook dictated that Pages shouldn’t use “calls to action” and “price and purchase information” in images (this is to reduce blatant commercialism and keep newsfeeds engaging). But this policy was a bit vague and rarely enforced.

However, the changes announced on Dec 20th – which came in to effect on Jan 15th this year – are much more stringent, and they’re also being policed.  It’s time to make sure your content is compliant.

 The restrictions apply to:

  • Cover images
  • Promoted (paid for) posts in the newsfeed
  • Sponsored stories (including links, offers, and mobile app install units)

They do NOT apply to:

  • Images shared in the timeline which aren’t promoted.
  • Marketplace ads
Example of an acceptable cover image – less than 20% text, no direct sales pitch.

Tough Mudder Facebook


Cover images have the tightest restriction – content as well as percent area

Covers may NOT include:

i. images with more than 20 percent text;
ii. price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on”;
iii. contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iv. references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
v. calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

See more from Facebook in its guidelines. Update 21 March: these guidelines are now changed.  Whilst the 20% rule still applies, Facebook now make no stipulations about calls to action or other marketing messages.

Unacceptable cover image

Example of a cover image with more than 20% text and purchase information

Promoted post images and sponsored stories

These may use calls to action or purchase information in images, but only as long as the text makes up less than 20 percent of the image.

How do you work out what 20 percent of the area is?

Well, it’s not that difficult actually.  If you overlay a 5×5 grid onto your image, and your text fills more than 5 boxes of the 25, it will fall foul of Facebook.  Thanks to SocialFresh for the following examples:


This passes muster

This passes muster

This doesn't

This doesn’t.

 According to Social Fresh, this grid method appears to be in line with internal Facebook tools that have been referenced when content has been rejected recently.

Drilling down, see what Facebook has to say:

“This 20 percent text policy does not apply to pictures of products that include text on the actual product. Photos of products in real situations or photos of products with a background are acceptable. Images that are zoomed in on logos or images with text overlay are not allowed. We will also not allow images that are clearly edited to include text on the product as a loophole to policy.”

That means charts and graphs that you try to promote as Page posts most likely will not be allowed, nor will ‘poster’ type text-based images like this:

The Marveo blog suggests that, to elicit response, the type of image post below, a ‘real’ photo which has a question taking up less than 20 percent of area and then uses a call to action suck as “20% off Men’s Shorts this week [link]” in the accompanying text, would work well and conform to the guidelines.

Pay heed to Facebook’s general advice on posting images to maximise engagement:

  • Photos should include real people and real things. User sentiment research shows that emotions triggered by images of real people, real situations, and real objects, are more lasting and compelling than those with words or text.
  • Text or text overlay should be minimal. Text in photos from friends is rare, so text in photos from brands is seen as inauthentic and generates negative reactions.
  • Brand logos, campaign slogans, and taglines should be used sparingly. Consider using a photo of your product in action instead of overlaying your brand logo or slogan on an unrelated image.
  • Keep it simple.

Tia Fisher

Freelance writer, Freelancer, mostly blogging for eModeration

Freelance writer and social media enthusiast, frequently to be found blogging with with the social media management agency eModeration. You can find her on .

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Posted on February 19th 2013 at 9:01PM

What about Share To Win posts? I tried doing a campaign for one of my products that Share To Win, I've done it many times before, but last week was the first time FB rejected the ad. Of course, they gave no specifics and would not return my questions. 

If they reject this as a call to action, how can you best promote your page with a paid advert?

Posted on February 20th 2013 at 9:11AM

That's interesting Lee.  Was the call to action in the image or in the text accompanying the image?

Posted on February 20th 2013 at 11:43AM

"Share to win at the top"

A picture of the featured product(s)

bottom says "Simply share for your chance to win this"

I also include text in the description. Does description text play a part? Your thoughts?

Posted on February 20th 2013 at 11:48AM

Hi Lee - if you have put text with a call to action as part of the image, it will certainly have fallen foul of the ruling.  If any text at all was more than 20% of surface area, ditto.  I doubt that metadata would count though ...

Posted on February 20th 2013 at 12:09PM

I also think the website at the bottom is restricted. I am trying to work within the rules. Maybe if all the ad said was "Win a Personalized Cubby" and the description can give more details...