How to

You have an assignment and you need to search and choose information resources, develop a research question, locate resources and evaluate them. Then comes the part that we have to use the information we collected ethically. Many students are confused and have many questions on what information they can use and in what form. You might also need to add images to your paper or study.

To use any information from any resource in any type you need permission to do so or you will be accused of plagiarizing. 

What you need to do:

- Cite your resources

- Ask for permission from the author

- Citation and permission for using photos, images, graphs....etc. as well as words.

- For copyright issues make sure to cite and document ever source you use.

Searching for images

Searching for images can be trickier than searching for text. It is difficult to choose the right keywords. Try different keywords, try to refine your search by combining image topic with photographers name or artists name or add a period of time or year (1887 or nineteenth century etc.), and try searching for your image in more than one database or website.

Choosing an image database

  • Do you need clip art? An art print? 
  • Try searching more than one database.
  • Move beyond Google Images. 

Effectively using an image database

  • Familiarize yourself with the contents and features of the database you have chosen. Every database is structured differently, with different image content, different descriptive data, and different search functionality.
  • Use the "About" or "Help" pages. This information can save you time and effort when you begin your search and can help you find information about the image for citation.

Search strategies

  • When you start searching for an image try using just 1 or 2 keywords to start your search. Search results too large? Add additional keywords. Too small? You may need to try other databases or choose other keywords.
  • What do you know about an image? Location? People? Title? Subject? Keywords from any of these categories could help.
  • Are there other ways the image might be described? You may have more success searching on place names, time periods, artist names, publishers, or dates.
  • Foreign languages. If image titles may be in a language other than English, experiment with different possible translations.
  • Artist names and place names often have more than one accepted spelling or format. If you do not find the results you expect with one spelling, try another.
Your librarian

Asma'a S. Assim

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Sr. Specialist KMMR

Adding images to your text

Digital images should be evaluated with the same scrutiny as web sites, online journal articles, and any other information you find online.


Resolution largely dictates the clarity and quality of the image. Digital images are made up of hundreds of small dots called pixels (picture elements). The more pixels there are per inch (ppi) the higher the resolution and the better the image quality. High quality resolution for printing is 300 ppi, but 72 ppi is appropriate for display on a computer monitor. When downloading, an image 1024 pixels along the long edge is optimal for reproduction. 

Image Formats

JPEG (.jpg): Many images are stored as JPEG files because this format allows files to be compressed to take up less space. Because JPEG files are small, they are easily transported (email, flashdrives, etc).

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format, .gif): Another popular file type found on the web. Gif images are widely used for graphics. 

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format, .tif): saves an uncompressed digital reproduction. Therefore, it is recommended you originally save high-quality TIFFs and then create JPEGs for general use.

BMP: uncompressed proprietary Microsoft format.

Other formats include, but are not limited to PSD (Photo Shop Document), SVG, and RAW. Image software tends to allow conversion of one format to another.

Most papers, reports and thesis include images such as charts, diagrams, sometimes maps, etc.

To add any image to the text consider the following:

1. All images are referred to when added to the text as figures or fig + a number fig.2 fig.3 fig.4 etc.

2. Do not capitalize the word figure or fig.

3. Never use expressions as figure below or figure above.

4. It is recommended that you put the figure as close as possible to the text referencing it.

5. Figures numbering should be consecutive starting from 1 and onwards.

6. On the same line as the label and number, provide a descriptive title/ caption, as well as source information in the following format:

fig. #. descriptive title, image creator's first name; description or image title; name or title of the website; publisher or sponsor of the site; date of creation; medium of publication ("web"); date of access.

How to cite images

You have to have permission to use any image in your text, but even if you have permission you still have to credit the image creator and copyright owner. In some cases on some websites you will find instructions to attribute an image to an institution or organization that owns the copyright of that image in this case look for (terms of use). Make sure to record all information about the image:

- image creator's name.

- title of the image.

- date of the image.

- where the image is (in an institution, gallery, etc.), and add the name of the owner in this field too.

- if it's an online image, you should add the link of the website, name of the website, or database.

Image protection

Copyright protects authorship of words as well as images, including charts, graphs, and pictures. How to  determine whether using another source’s image in our work is acceptable or not, but perhaps more importantly we should question whether this sort of borrowing is even helpful in all cases. Sometimes adding a map or chart or graph is important to give more meaning to the words. In a chart or a graph numbers can describe and provide information more than words.

As a researcher your ideas the conclusions you come up with as a result are most important. If you copy a chart or graph from another resource and you did not put your own findings on your chart  copying (even when you cite it and document it correctly) is a sign that your research is taking over your essay. A good question to ask is, “Is this chart or graph important enough to my paper that its relevance will overshadow the distraction it will cause?” If not, try summarizing the overall point you’d like to make about the numbers presented in your source’s graph or chart. Your readers can always use your works cited page or bibliography to find the source and see the original graph or chart

Adding Google images

Do a Google search for your topic. Then you can choose the time period, country or check all results. Next, click on images and you should have images from your requested time period.

  • Google advanced image search provides more opportunities to limit your results:
    • Exact size
    • Aspect ratio (proportions)
    • File type (JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, SVG)
    • Domain (examples: .edu, .org, .gov)
    • Usage Rights-find images that are labeled for:
      • Reuse
      • Commercial reuse
      • Reuse with modification
      • Commercial reuse with modification

and many more options

Once you find the image you were looking for, cite the website you took the image from, not Google, then provide the link that takes you directly to the image.

When you use an image for your paper or project taken from Google images, a database, a book, make sure to cite that image properly to avoid plagiarism and to give credit to the creator of the image.