Skip to main content

Video, images and audio: Images

Finding images to use

Often, you will want to use images in your coursework.  Photos and diagrams break up text, making it easier to read, and are visually appealing as well.  Here are some online sources of images that you can use.

Help with images

Attributing images

Attribution means giving credit to someone for creating a particular piece of work.  It is essential that all staff and studentsdo this every time you use an image that was created by someone other than yourself.  This might be in a blog post, on a website, on social media, on a poster, or in a presentation.

To attribute an image, you should include

  • author's name
  • title
  • where you found it
  • licensing information

The author's name is usually available in the same place where you found the image.  For example, if you're using a photo from Flickr, it would be acceptable to use the name of the account where you found the photo, or there may be a person's actual name.  Likewise, the image title is usually given on the same page where you can download the image.  With regard to where you found the image, it is enough to give the name of the website, such as Flickr or Wikimedia Commons.

Licensing information is a bit more complicated.  There are lots of different licences for images, which means the sharing restrictions placed on them by the creator.  For example, some images will have a label of 'All rights reserved'.  That means the image cannot be re-used anywhere without the author's permission.  Other images have Creative Commons licences, so they can be used for certain purposes but not others.  To find out more about Creative Commons and other types of licences, see the SHU Copyright guide.

Here is an example of a Creative Commons-licensed image, attributed to show the author's name, title, and licence.

Photo credit: 'Least Weasel' by Bering Land Bridge National Preserve via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

You'll see that the attribution uses a particular format:

Photo credit: 'Title of image' by Author's name via Source of image (License information)

This is the format that we recommend because it is contains all the necessary information and is easy to read.  If the image is a drawing or something else instead of a photo, you can start the attribution with 'Image credit' instead.  The author doesn't always have to be a person, it can be an organisation instead, like in this example.

Sometimes, images have special conditions attached and you must comply with them.  For example, art gallery websites often state that you aren't allowed to re-use their online images.  Other images are in the public domain, which means that they are not subject to copyright law.  This can be because the creator decided to make them free for everyone to use or because the term of copyright has come to an end.  If you are using a public domain image, you are not legally required to attribute it.  However, it is good idea to include an attribution anyway so that anyone who is reading your work can see where the image is from and knows that you are allowed to use it.

If you're putting an image on a blog post or a webpage, you can turn the image itself into a link.  Try clicking on the image of a weasel above.  You'll see the link leads to the page where that image can be downloaded.  This is useful because it allows someone else to find out more about the image and maybe even download a copy to use themselves.

Adding attribution to an image

Using logos and corporate images

Sometimes, you might want to use logos to refer to companies or products, such as Microsoft or Facebook, but don't assume that you can search online for the image you want and just use it.  You need to find the logo on the company's website and then follow any instructions that they give.  For example, the Twitter website has a page called 'Brand assets and guidelines', which contains downloadable versions of the logo and conditions for how it can be used elsewhere. 

Usually, logos and other corporate images can't be modified at all, so the colours need to stay the same.  Some companies tell you the ways in which their logo can and can't be used; Facebook advise that their brand cannot be used 'in a way that implies partnership, sponsorship or endorsement'.  If you are in any doubt about whether you're allowed to use a logo, don't use it.

Copyright