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In this YouTube Thumbnail Template Tutorial, we show you how to avoid getting your content hidden by YouTube overlaid elements. Primarily about thumbnails but a general guide where not to put text on a YouTube thumbnail. And, we’ll give you two templates to overlay on your videos and thumbnails.

What’s the problem we’re solving?

Well, once you’ve isolated the areas where text and images could be obscured by YouTube player elements the usable real estate is significantly reduced. And, if you intent to add your video to a playlist, the useable area is significantly reduced further.

Lets take a look at what at what could be called a standard layout. Across the bottom there we can have a border to allow for the YouTube player controls. Across the top we can allow a border for the video title; his mainly seems to come into play when the video is embedded. When it’s embedded, the title is shown on the thumbnail as YouTube has no way of knowing that the video will have a tile associated with it like it would on the YouTube platform.

Bottom-right and just above the bottom bar there is a rectangle which allows for the three most common duration blocks. When planning a thumbnail for playlists the duration block rectangle needs to be slightly bigger.

First: standard web thumbnail – duration block quite discrete

Second: smaller web thumbnail with larger duration block

Third: a mobile thumbnail and we need to start considering the area taken

Fourth: a playlist thumbnail and the duration block is starting to intrude quite a lot

Playlist Layout

In this playlist layout, you can see the shaded area where the main YouTube playlist overlay sits and the duration box is bigger for playlist video thumbnails:




Standard Thumbnail Layout Example

This is a thumbnail before I started to think more about thumbnails, you can see in some circumstances the title would be slightly obscured. It’s overlaid with the key elements, my face would be partially obscured by the duration block.

You can also see that the progress bars could affect images on the absolute bottom.

So what could a revised thumbnail look like when revised?

Revised Thumbnail Layout

I’ve used the playlist overlay as this video will be part of a playlist. You can see the title is repositioned. My image is repositioned left and flipped horizontally – not for all images. My image will also now not be obscured by the duration blocks. The play button is now over the hat and not the text – which is ok. I’ve now added the rule of thirds to help with positioning. And, the finished item looks OK? Remember this tutorial is about positioning rather than design.

Checkout the video below to see more example layouts.


Using this approach the usable area fir text is generally reduced. The reduced area is a good thing. It forces you to use fewer words, which is better. With fewer words you can use larger fonts, too. Text in videos and thumbnails should be kept above the bottom border. Where you want to always have the whole image in view, keep outside of overlaid areas & above the TWO progress bars. Also, use this overlay in your video editing to avoid misplaced top and bottom text.


Let’s take a look at the two overlays you can download. There are four overlays in all. First, 1920x1280 – playlist and non-playlist. Second 1280x720 – playlist and no-playlist. Four in total for you to use how you see fit. The 1920x1080 I mainly use for the top and bottom borders in videos but sometimes, I might also be thinking I can make a thumbnail from this frame.

That’s about it for this tutorial, I hope you found it useful reading about the things I’ve learnt about thumbnails and positioning text in videos

Lastly, how do you get the thumbnail templates? Sign-up for the newsletter on during September’18. After that you can get them by supporting us on Patreon: or buying for $4.99 @