instagram carousel
21 minutes read

*Disclaimer: This guide was created back when Creatopy was named Bannersnack.

Instagram has been fast on trying to catch up to Facebook’s popularity in the last few years.

The popular social media platform launched in 2017 the carousel feature, which lets you add up to 10 photos or videos in a post, being a significant hit among its photo-crazed users. 

What’s more is that, according to the study we’ve done in partnership with SocialInsider, 19.44% of Instagram posts are carousel, which is a significant growth since 2017.

Not surprisingly, carousels are the most engaging Instagram post format, with an average of 1.92% engagement per post.Create Ad Campaigns 1

Since you have the option of adding more photos in a single post, there are more chances for the audience to like at least one of those photos and therefore hit the “love” button.


A. What Is an Instagram Carousel?

B. Instagram Carousel Ads for Feed

C. Instagram Carousel Ads for Stories

D. How to Create Instagram Carousels

E. How to Promote Instagram Carousel Posts

F. Instagram Carousel Templates


instagram carousel infographic

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<img src=”” title=”The Ultimate Guide to Creating Engaging Instagram Carousels” alt=”Instagram Carousel: The Best Tips to Boost Engagement” border=”0″ />
<div>Courtesy of: <a href=””>Creatopy</a></div>


A. What Is an Instagram Carousel?

Instagram carousel is a format that allows you to add up to ten images or videos into one single post. A user can swipe through the photos or videos, which boosts engagement on the platform.

These types of posts are visually appealing, creative, and interactive.

There are three ways in which you can use an Instagram carousel design: for posts, stories, and, of course, Instagram carousel ads.

B. Instagram Carousel Ads for Feed

Opting for this type of post is an excellent choice since you can showcase different products or tell your brand’s story using the ten cards that people can swipe through.

If you’re looking to create an Instagram carousel for your feed, here are the Instagram carousel ad specs that you need to consider:

  • Add anywhere from 2 to 10 cards
  • A landing page URL is required
  • The image type should be either JPG or PNG
  • Check the supported file formats before uploading
  • 30 MB per card is the video maximum file size, while the video length should be no more than 120 seconds/card
  • The recommended resolution for the Instagram carousel ad size is at least 1080 x 1080 px
  • Aspect ratio should be 1:1
  • For the headline, there will be one row of text displayed
  • Images that have more than 20% text could experience reduced delivery
  • Aspect ratio tolerance is 1%
  • Maximum text length is 2200 characters
  • Maximum number of hashtags in text: 30

C. Instagram Carousel Ads for Stories

For Instagram story carousel ads, you can use the same ten cards as with the carousel feed, but in this case, only up to three cards will be displayed automatically, giving the users an “Expand Story” option.

So, if you want to know how to make carousel ads on Instagram, check out the Instagram story carousel ad specs below:

  • Avoid adding any text or logos in the 14% space of the top and bottom of the video, so you don’t cover any profile icons or call to action
  • Add anywhere from 2 to 10 cards
  • The maximum video duration for each card should not exceed 120 seconds for the default experience and 15 seconds for the fixed number of cards
  • The ratio should be 9:16 and 16:9 to 4:5
  • The recommended Instagram carousel size for Stories is 1080 x 1920 px
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1%
  • Maximum number of cards in the prompted carousel ads is 10, and the maximum video duration for carousel videos is 15

Here’s what Miriam, a UX designer, says regarding using carousels for her account:

Miriam Isaac

Miriam Isaac – @misaac85

If i need to educate in a different manner, as opposed to a blog post or video (I don’t do much video though), then I’ll use a carousel. It’s more of a side project my insta.

I’m very grateful for it and I’m definitely taken aback by the amazing feedback. So wish I could give it more time. But you know I have my regular UX design work and my four kids.

You must manage to convey your message in those ten slides or, if possible, in even fewer. Take advantage to the fullest of this option and personalize each slide accordingly, and you’ll see that all your efforts will match the results in the long term.

Make Instagram carousel your project and give it as much attention as you would to any other way of promoting your business or your product.

D. How to Create Instagram Carousels 

If you want to know how to create Instagram carousel ads, then you’ve come to the right place.

To help you out with this endeavor of creating great Instagram carousels, here are a few tips that you can follow:

1. Use templates for consistency

Nicole from BoostingBee says that:

BoastingBee Nicole – @boostingbee

First of all, it’s very important to have a template ready for all your carousels.

I have 2 templates – one for a 1080×1080 carousel and second – for a 1080×1350 carousel.

In the template I have my guides set up, my branding elements, and the slides. 


Jamey GannonJamey Gannon – @jameygdesign

I have a very basic template set up for the page numbers, exit slide, and a few other features, so entering in my content at this point has become quite easy

For the process to run smoother and also for building consistency among your clients, it’s best to use templates.

Make a few predefined ones so that you can access them easily and create your carousel faster. Remember that the more work you put into planning, the more time you’ll save in the long run.

2. Look for inspiration

When designing something, even an Instagram carousel, you need both technical skills and creativity, so make sure you cultivate both. While the technical part can be acquired, you need creativity in order to come up with an excellent design.

Inspiration might not come easy to most of us, that’s why we have to seek it one way or another.

Great ideas often happen when you expect it the least, but if you’re finding yourself to require one, know that with a few tricks, you can come up with many wonderful ideas for your Instagram video carousel or Instagram photo carousel.

  • Draw inspiration from your own experiences or those of friends

Find your own source of inspiration, or follow Nicole’s example:

BoastingBee Nicole – @boostingbee

 After that, I look for ideas and for content inspiration.

My inspiration comes from self-experience, asking my audience what they want to know, and researching specific topics on YouTube

If your present fails you when it comes to new and exciting ideas, don’t shy away from drawing them out from your own past experiences. It’s perfectly normal to get stuck sometimes, but know that taking a few hours to brainstorm based on your past can go a long way. 

In case you’re still not getting anywhere, and no ideas seem to pop up, reach out to someone and pick their brains, or just exchange some potential ideas.

It’s crazy how often we dismiss great ideas with huge potential, only because we’re not seeing them from the right perspective.Create Ad Campaigns 1

Talking a few ideas out with someone will offer a fresh and new take on the subject, and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to find inspiration when you’re not spending hours by yourself, chewing over the same idea again and again.

  • Strive for your content to go viral

Grant LaCorte – @grantlacorte

If you can tell an exciting story about one idea in 10 artistic slides then you have a potentially viral carousel.

You probably know by now the not-so-secret recipe for viral videos or photos. You need a great story that can be presented in as few seconds as possible.

There’s a reason why you never see long videos going viral. People don’t have a very long attention span, so if you want to impress, you’ll have to do it fast. 

The same goes for Instagram carousels. They have great potential for going viral because the format is already there.

You have ten slides where you can tell your story, but if you manage to do it in even less than that, that’s even better. However, you also have to keep in mind that for your content to be viral, it needs to be clear and clean. So, adding a lot of information or images on a single slide might not be a good idea. 

33.10% of the carousels posted on Instagram have only two slides and have an engagement of  1.90%. But when all the ten slides are used, the average engagement rate goes over 2% so that’s worth keeping in mind.

carousels by number of slides

  • Jot down any great ideas that you have

Julian offers some excellent advice for not running out of ideas:

Julian RJulian R – @juju.branding

I have a notebook with content ideas, stories, or valuable experiences that I can share with my audiences.

Whenever I’m feeling motivated, I look through my notes and see which piece of content I would like to dive deeper in.

Once I pick a topic, I will write up a rough draft of what the copy should be on each slide. 

The trick with great ideas is that they come as quickly as they go, so remember to write them down as soon as you can, or else you might find yourself back to square one. It’s great to always try to have a small notebook where you can write them down, but if that’s too much trouble, you can always go for a Notes app on your phone. 

Organizing might not be typical for creative persons, it would actually be a very uncommon skill to have, so don’t feel bad if you find yourself writing ideas on napkins, post-it notes, or takeout menus.

The important thing here is to write them down and try not to lose them, which is why a notebook would be best.

  • Stick to a routine

Jamey GannonJamey Gannon – @jameygdesign

Here’s a good routine shared by Jamey: My routine for creating my Instagram carousels is pretty loose but almost always starts with me writing down an idea in my Notes app

You might not think it would be necessary to create a routine when it comes to designing Instagram carousels, but believe me when I say that it really helps.

It doesn’t have to be a daily thing, even if you sit down only twice a week and create something, it will definitely suffice. Creating a routine is bound to help you get the creative wheels spinning and will also help your business strive. 

Being consistent in your posts is something you should aim at, and creating a routine will boost this considerably since you’ll be able to be more efficient in your Instagram carousel posts.

  • Avoid losing any ideas that you have

If you’re a visual person, maybe David’s routine might work for you too:

Dave Talas Dave Talas – @davetalas

Well, first, I always have a notebook and a pen with me so if I have a new idea, I can write it down. I like using paper instead of my smartphone.

Sometimes, I just write down headlines, other times I write down lots of notes and even graphics about the slides. I’m really visual in my thinking

As previously mentioned, it can be really frustrating to come up with a great idea and forgetting it a few minutes later. So, to avoid doing that, write everything down, wherever you can. You can use anything you have at hand as long as you record that idea in some way.

If writing it down doesn’t work for you, you can create an audio recording of the idea, which is sure to help preserve it, and you can review it later whenever you want.

  • Create a log

Mario Quezada

Mario Quezada – @themarioquezada

I keep a notes log of potential content topics, then when I’m ready to design content I open my notes and browse all the topics I haven’t yet written on, feel moved by one topic and then I write it all out, slide by slide

It often happens that we dismiss an idea because it might not have great potential at the time. However, it’s best to create a log and keep it there as you’ll never know when that idea will become handy. 

You should also organize that log by topics so that it’s easier to browse through it when you need a good idea. Whatever you do, avoid having like a never-ending list of potentially great ideas as this would be counterproductive. 

The goal here is to boost your productivity and be efficient in promoting your business through Instagram carousels, therefore having to spend lots of time finding a good and suitable idea would not be the best way to go around it.

  • Writing should be your primary focus

Mario Quezada

Mario Quezada – @themarioquezada

I find the most important thing to focus on is the writing, which a lot of people disregard

Most people get distracted and entangled in the visuals when creating an Instagram carousel template, so don’t let that happen to you too.

Visuals are important, but more often than not, people pay more attention to the copy, and if that is not interesting enough, they will simply disregard everything else.

Make sure you create quality copy for your Instagram carousel slides, which should be inspiring, entertaining, and why not, intriguing. Carousel captions for Instagram also need to be captivating, so focus on that as well.

People should want to find out more about your business after seeing your content, so your main goal should be not only to grab their attention but also to keep it, and great writing usually does the trick.

3. Creation

Being a highly creative task that requires you to try and capture the user’s attention in just a few seconds, creating an Instagram carousel means that you have to follow a few necessary steps. 

3.1. You need a well-defined style

Before you get started, find your style. Firstly, you should make sure that you have at least two modern fonts that you want to use. Don’t go for the usual, boring fonts. Choose something unique and bold that will be eye-catching and also suitable for your brand. 

Secondly, you should pick your favorite colors and remember that they have to be bold and impressive. What usually works great for carousels are high contrast colors, so be sure to check out some social media color inspiration. Textures are also a good idea.

And thirdly, focus on what’s unique about your carousels, and define that thing you want to stand out for. 

3.2. Imagery and copy must be interesting

Another thing that you should really focus on is your cover image. That’s the first chance you get to impress the users and make them want to swipe through the entire carousel. Carousel posts that use “Swipe left” in the caption have a higher engagement rate than those that don’t have these words so it’s better to encourage people to perform this action.

Use minimal but interesting text, as well as fresh and cool imagery. The title, also, should be short and sharp, try to stick to no more than ten words for it.

3.3. Do some research to find original ideas

After you’re done with the design, move on to content, and focus on finding exciting ideas. Research your competitors and see what great ideas they have come up with. This way, you have something to draw inspiration from. 

Another key strategy in coming up with quality content is to interact with your users, study what they find attractive on your page, and what they follow you for.

You can also find this out by taking a look at the comments on your posts, you’re sure to find a few that could inspire you to create. 

If all of this fails, Google,, Pinterest, or YouTube are also great tools for finding new ideas.

Research keywords to see what buzzing topics people are getting excited about nowadays.

3.4. Engage the audience 

Hashtags are not just meaningless words you throw around on a post to increase its visibility. They have to be suitable for what you’re trying to convey with your carousels, and most of all, they should be relevant to your target audience. 

Always end your carousel with a call to action to engage the audience. It can be anything from prompting them to write something in the comments or to share your content.

Carousel posts receive a median of 7.99 comments per post, which is more than image posts (5.7), so you’ll definitely find it easier to engage your audience with this type of format.

carousel comments

3.5. Create attractive carousels

Check out these great tips shared by Nicole:

BoastingBee Nicole – @boostingbee

  1. The cover has to be eye-catching.
  2. The last slide (10th), needs to have a clear call to action, or simply a question.
  3. Slides 2 – Intro.
  4. Slides 3 – 7 – Interest. Which means a visual sequence of slides to sustain interest about the problem.
  5. Slides 8 – 9 – The details. This is where you give the solution away and focus on ONE key idea only.

As opposed to blog posts or videos, Instagram carousels give you the option to be highly creative in a more straightforward way. Instead of investing many hours in extensive content, your aim is to turn a few slides into highly interesting material. Which is why your cover is the first thing you should really focus on, but without neglecting the other slides.

While this one should be very eye-catching, the last should contain the call the action or how you can engage the audience. 

The second slide is where the intro should go, in which you make it more explicit what this carousel is going to be about. The following slides 3-7, the most significant chunk of the carousel, are all about sustaining the viewer’s interest while the slides 8-9 are more in-depth and focused on the details.

With Instagram carousels, it’s vital not to let yourself be carried away. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of adding too much information, but this will be distracting, and many viewers will be bound to lose interest.

According to Socialinsider, the most common carousels have 2 slides (33.10%) or 3 slides (19.69%), but 6.77% of carousels use the maximum number of slides.

instagram carousels by number of slides

3.6. Consistency is important

Keep it simple and follow Frank’s example:

G'day FrankG’ day Frank – @gdayfrank

I’ve changed my branding to just be those three colors and fonts similar kind of thing using same consistent fonts and at the bottom of each slide it has my logos and my website pretty much on every carousel slide but not always

After you’ve given a lot of thought to choosing the right fonts and colors and therefore creating your personal style, make sure you stick to it. Your audience needs to get accustomed to your style in such a way that they’ll be able to recognize more easily.

Whether you add logos to your posts or not, it’s essential to create your posts using the same elements that are specific to your profile.

3.7. Use the AIDA principle

carousel instagram template

Mario Quezada – @themarioquezada

Mario’s following advice is sure to be of great help if you’re just getting started: I make sure I follow the AIDA principle (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action). When it’s all written, I then go to my Instagram template in Illustrator (personal preference) and start designing.

The AIDA principle is excellent for helping you get started. Your carousels need to catch the viewer’s attention, spark interest and desire, and finally, to prompt some kind of action. As long as it’s followed properly, this is a very straight forward way of achieving your goals.

3.8. Keep users’ attention


Grant LaCorte – @grantlacorte

Drip just enough information in each slide to keep them swiping.

It’s a well-known fact that if you give people everything they want right away, they are sure to lose attention and interest pretty fast. So, switch it up.

Give them just enough information to keep them interested. Fill your first slides with content that hints at the main point you’re trying to make but withhold that main point until the final slide.

3.9. The slides should tell a story

Julian shares the following advice:

Julian RJulian R – @juju.branding

Each slide is designed to help communicate the story or message that I’m trying to get across.

We, humans, are wired to enjoy telling or listening to stories, and carousels are a suitable medium you can use to tell yours. As long as you fit it in ten slides and make it appealing, your viewers are sure to appreciate it and keep coming back for more. 

If every carousel is a story, then your entire feed should be thought out as a book. That’s why it’s important to have your own style and leave your mark on every carousel so that the viewers can feel like they know you and therefore trust you and your content.

3.10. Work efficiently

Check out Jamey’s advice if you strive to maximize your efficiency:

Jamey GannonJamey Gannon – @jameygdesign

Nearly every time I get inspired to make a carousel, I write the entire thing in one go. When I’m ready to start designing, I copy and paste the note into my Illustrator file, where I usually create all my content for the month together.

Take advantage of the time when inspiration strikes, as you might not get this very often. If you feel like you have some great ideas, don’t postpone writing them down later.

Make time for creativity and use it to the fullest. This will not only help get those creative juices flowing, but it will also enable you to save time.

If you’re sitting down at your desk for a few hours straight when you’re most productive, you won’t need to rack your brain unnecessarily at a different time.

The great thing about this strategy is that you don’t need to stylize and put together every element right then and there–you can create a draft or just put down on paper a few bullet points.

3.11. Leave the most important part of your story for the last slide

David’s advice is vital if you want to make sure your message is sent the proper way:

Dave Talas Dave Talas – @davetalas

It’s important to not overload the user with too much knowledge in the beginning, so I keep the swiping speed on my first few slides at around 1-2 seconds. Anything more than that creates anxiety in the user.

I leave the details and the value to the end.

As previously mentioned, the last slide is where the big reveal happens.

While you’re just dripping a bit of information in the first slides, you’re leaving the most essential details for the last. It’s a full-proof formula that’s created to keep the user interested for a more extended period.

This also ensures that the user will retain the central part of your carousel more easily since it’s in the last slide they see.

4. Branding (fonts, colors, images)

As the elements you use for your carousels are a big part of your brand, it’s vital to invest a lot of time and effort into making sure they accurately convey your style. Here’s a closer look at what you need to consider when creating your carousels:

4.1. Fonts

Bold fonts always work wonderfully in an Instagram post, and the bolder they are, the better. Take a look at the trendiest fonts at the moment and see if they could work for you as well.

4.2. Color ideas

It would be a good idea for your slides’ background to pop out. While you can definitely use bold colors for both text and background, you have to make sure that they fit. It would also be best to change the background color a bit even if you use different shades of the same color. 

Remember the main idea: each slide is a component of the carousel and has to fit with the rest of them. Therefore, they should have a common element.

Using a combination of different colors usually does the trick, but careful not to use more than three or four because that would just seem overwhelming.

4.3. Images

Using images for an Instagram carousel is not as easy as it would seem. Here are some things that you should take into consideration:

  • Use images that are relevant and that match the idea you’re trying to convey through text.
  • If you’re adding text over the image, make sure it’s readable
  • Choose pictures that have more white space
  • Keep it simple
  • If you don’t find the right image, you shouldn’t use one and go for a plain background

4.4. Find the one thing that makes your content stand out

Follow Frank’s example for making your content stand out:

G'day FrankG’ day Frank – @gdayfrank

As I like to kind of mix things up now I have video or sound music all different things to make it a bit more interesting and not as generic as what I see from other accounts. I myself stand out a bit. I also have photography of myself.

I generally do a big batch of photos every few months of myself. Different poses, different facial expressions, different backgrounds, that kind of thing to choose from to set the tone for that post.

Since you can also add videos to your carousel, make sure you take advantage of that option as well and leave your mark by making original designs. Whether it’s the music you add to the video slides or the type of photos you use, you have to stand out. 

Even though image carousels are the most common (88.8%), carousels that mix images with videos have the highest engagement rates per post, which is an average of 2.33%.

Not to mention the fact that carousels with videos receive even more comments (26.07) than image (7) or mixed carousels (15.99).

There are many accounts out there not putting in the effort and ending up with bland and uninteresting content. Strive to be bold and different.

4.5. Be consistent in your tone of voice

Julian RJulian R – @juju.branding

I then make sure that the tone of voice is consistent to my personal brand

Get your audience hooked to your designs by being consistent, especially in your tone of voice. They will get used to your creations and the quality of your work and keep coming back for more.

The tone of voice depends a lot on the kind of business you want to promote, so regardless if it’s an informal or formal one, stick to it from the beginning.

5. Tools

To be consistent in your posts and efficient at the same time, you should use the right tools. One great software that can be of significant help in creating exceptional designs for your Instagram carousels is Creatopy.

The process is very simple and consists of choosing the right templates and personalizing them to create your own video or image slides for those perfect Instagram carousels. With Creatopy, you eliminate the need to use lots of different tools for this one purpose.

Dave Talas Dave Talas – @davetalas

Not decided on which tools to use? Here are some of David’s favorites that you can try out: Then I use Keynote to design my 10 slide post. In Keynote I have set up Master Slides and Paragraph Styles, so I can be visually consistent.

For non-Apple readers, I’d recommend to go with Google Slides or PowerPoint. I only use Photoshop or Illustrator to create assets that I can use in my posts.

Before you get started, it’s vital to do some research and find out what kinds of tools are out there and see what would work for you. It all depends on the type of device you’re using for creating designs, as well as on the amount of time you’re willing to invest in this process.

E. How to Promote Instagram Carousel Posts

The promotion of your carousels is very straightforward and efficient. You have the two options of creating either an Instagram carousel ad or an Instagram story carousel ad. 

As with any ad, what you need to focus on is not only the content but also the type of audience that you want to target. Start with that and then create your design, keeping in mind the kind of content that they would be interested in. 

As for the Instagram carousel ads cost, the average cost-per-click would be somewhere around $0.50 and $1.00, depending on the number of slides you decide to use and the type of ad you want to go for.

It can also get to $3.00 per click, if it’s an ad for a highly competitive market, like apparel.

  • Always add a call to action

Grant LaCorte – @grantlacorte

Want your audience to engage with your posts? Do what Grant does: Build suspense and deliver a heavy payload of valuable and actionable information at the end. Never forget to finish the post with an exciting call to action. One powerful carousel can boost your business and generate multiple clients. It has for me.

The best ads always have a catchy call to action at the end. It’s your best chance of making sure that the audience has a reaction to your content, so put a lot of thought into this. 

  • Adjust your routine

Dave Talas Dave Talas – @davetalas

Check out David’s routine for creating carousels: Afterwards, I export my slides as images, AirDrop to my iPhone, write my caption in the Instagram app on my phone (yes, I know it’s ineffective, but I write more contextually when writing on my phone compared to writing on computer), paste the Hashtags I researched and optimized using Flick.

As a content creator, you probably already have your routine and know what works for you and what doesn’t. In terms of creating Instagram carousel ads, you have to keep in mind that it’s a new process that you need to fit into your routine.

What worked for you before might not work now, and with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

F. Instagram Carousel Templates

In case you’ve never created an Instagram carousel post, we’re here to help. Just browse through the templates listed below, pick the one you like, click on the Start from this button that will appear once you hover over the design, and edit it in Creatopy as you like.





Also, feel free to discover more Instagram carousel examples by logging into your Creatopy account.


Regardless if you’re already a professional content creator or not, Instagram carousel is a new great medium that could turn out to be as efficient as any other, maybe even more. 

There are indeed a lot of things to consider to maximize this platform’s potential, but at the end of the day, it’s well worth it.

As long as you follow all the guidelines and, most of all, get really creative about the process, you are sure to be successful. I hope that you found the tips and recommendations in this article useful and you’ll succeed in applying them efficiently. 

Do you have a process or a routine that works for you when it comes to creating Instagram carousels? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Katai
Robert Katai is the Product Marketing Specialist at Creatopy. His work was featured on Adweek, Entrepreneur, Marketing Profs, Content Marketing Institute and other places.


  1. thanks for this useful work..
    i really didnt use Instagram carousel before!!

  2. Hi Robert Katai, this one is the best article I have read on Instagram. I have even bookmarked it. Instagram Carousel are the best kind of post to get more engagement. People become curious and will slide till last the slide to know more and more. With Instagram Carousel people feel more connected and the chance of like and share also increases.

  3. Highy informative content !! Very well compiled !! Thanks so much

  4. Thanks for this amazing manual. I just have one question. How to add an individuel caption for each slide? I can see this in many sponsored carousel posts on IG.

  5. Hi. You can have a different caption for each slide only if you create a catalog of your products in Facebook Ad Creator. When you share a carousel in the post format, you can have only one single caption. Hope this helps.

  6. Wow!! Thank u very much! Amazing guide!

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