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Images: Finding Images

A guide to finding copyright free images and how to cite them.

Searching for and Using Images - Best Practices

Images and multimedia can be used to enrich your research and topic presentations. When searching for and using images, you will want to keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Searching for an image will require the right keywords; consider subject matter, people, and places. You may need to try synonyms or other keywords to find what you are looking for. 
  • Before using an image, make sure that you have the legal right to do so, whether by obtaining permission from the creator or using a copyright friendly image (helpful links are below). 
  • Document the use of all images in your academic work using the appropriate citation style (see the Citing Use of Images page).
  • Consider the format and size of the image; some images become pixelated when enlarged or difficult to see when compressed. In general, the .jpg format is used for websites and documents, while the .png format is best for graphic design elements. 
  • If you have questions about finding and using images, contact a librarian.

For information about video and audio elements, check out our Streaming Media Guide

Creative Commons & Free Images

The following image platforms make it easier to cite and attribute properly, since rights and permissions are often stated for each image.

Archived Images

St. Catherine University. (n.d.) [Photograph of Our Lady Victory Chapel].

AI Generated Images

Several generative AI tools exist for creating images using text-to-image prompts. Only use AI generated images in your academic work if you have permission from your instructor (or the topic of your work is generative AI). Although AI artwork is not protected by copyright law, you will need to cite the software and document the prompt you used to generate the image. 

Example of image generated using the prompt "Lion's Mane Jellyfish": 

Canva. (2023). Text-to-Image (2022 Version).

Public Domain Images

Images in the public domain are not restricted under copyright, which means you do not need to obtain permission to use them in your work.

Note: You should always cite the images in your work, even if it's available in the public domain.

Google Images

Diverse Stock Images

Stock photography should reflect a diverse and inclusive range of people. The following sites focus on highlighting images of marginalized populations. Including these images in research presentations reinforces the idea that everyone should be seen. 

Other Useful Web Resources

St. Catherine University. (n.d.). Students (6) behind a tree in front of Derham Hall [Photograph].

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