Finding and Using Images

These webpages explore different types of image sources, explain how to search more effectively for visual materials, provide resources for Creative Commons and public domain images, offer information on copyright and fair dealing, and provide examples of image citations by style.

Stereoscopic image called The Ghost in the Stereocope
The Ghost in the Stereoscope, c. 1856, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from Image in the public domain CC0.

Questions to ask yourself before you start your image search:

  • Do you need to seek out specialized databases with reliable metadata and information attached to the image?
    • Is the image central to your argument?
    • Is it meant to illustrate your point or add appeal?

Note: If there is no reliable information associated with an image it may not be appropriate for inclusion in academic work.

  • Will you be using this image once or are you planning to re-use this image multiple times?
  • Will your project, report, or presentation that includes this image change in nature and move beyond educational use to commercial use?
  • Are you including this image in a PowerPoint presentation, on a large-format poster, in a printed essay, or in a paper uploaded to Brightspace?

Note: Images need to be properly cited just like texts, so whenever possible choose images that allow you to identify their creator and their source. Also, using images in your work requires an awareness of their limitations. Just because you find an image online does not mean that it’s free to use.

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