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MicroMasters® at the University of Edinburgh

An introduction to the resources available to support your learning

Managing images

pile of photosIf you're doing a course that requires use of images - whether architectural images, scores, manuscripts, archives, and so on, whether you create these images yourself or use images that are created by others - you'll need to be able to cite them properly, present them effectively and store them for easy retrieval.

There is a lot of information available on the best ways of producing your own images, around file types and sizes, resolution and editing. The University of Michigan has put together a useful guide with some advice on this: ​

Organise your images (and back them up)

Choosing sensible file names and grouping images together effectively is really important. It's also vital that you keep this practice up to date - especially if you're creating most of the images yourself.

If you're planning to store the images on your computer, ensure that you have an effective back-up system - read our page about managing and backing up your files for advice.

Consider using reference management software to store and organise them

Many reference management software will allow you to upload and store your images in a variety of file formats. You can use the fields available to include detail of each of the images and to create your own archive of images.

Or, if you're working with images extensively, consider trying out a specific image management system. Examples include KokenFlickrPiwigo and Lychee, but there are many more available.

Credit the creators

If you want to use images you do not own, and which are not in the public domain, then how you use them will determine your rights in relation to them. If you're using or referring to images in an assignment which will remain unpublished, then citing them effectively is usually sufficient. However, if you intend to publish or print the images (e.g. publishing your thesis, creating a presentation or poster) then you will have to be sure that you not only cite them correctly but that you have permission to reuse and reproduce the image. This usually depends on its license.

Do you understand creative commons?

Knowing about the different licenses will be really helpful in figuring out whether you can use an image. Find out more about creative commons here. Also, bear in mind that much advice about the use and reuse of images that you can find online tends to apply to the USA, rather than to the UK, where the regulations are slightly different.

A simple way of avoiding problems is to look for images with licenses that can definitely be reused. Some search engines (e.g. Google) allow you to search for images based on specific rights, and some only include images that are licensed for reuse - for example, Unsplash, Pixabay, nappy, Wikimedia Commons. If there is not a clear license for the image, you may wish to contact the license holder to ask for permission. You may only use the image once explicit permission has been gained - if the license holder does not respond to your request, it does not constitute permission. If you cannot identify to whom the image belongs, you might wish to try a reverse image search using TinEye or Google.

Find out how to do a reverse image search on Google