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Designing a Research Poster: Using Images

Using Images

One way to add meaning to your poster is to use images.

  1. You can find images on the web but you should be concerned with using images legally and ethically. Use the resources to the right to locate free and reusable images. 

  2. You can legally use photos in four ways: 1) find photos that are licensed as Creative Commons (flickr), 2) ask permission from the photographer, 3) buy your photos from a stock photo site (e.g. iStock) or 4) take your own photos.

  3. Generally speaking, photos as background images rarely look good. The image tends to overpower the text and make the poster hard to read. (If you must, you can fade out your image.) Instead, try using a background color or boxes to set off your text and images.

Butler Logos

It is good practice that you identify yourself as an affiliate of Butler University and use official Butler logos and branding standars for any poster created while you are a student at Butler. Do not create your own logo! This holds true with most universities, but check with your individual institution to see what their logo requirements are.

Citing Images

As with any sources for a research project, you must properly cite your images. Below are several quick guides to aid you in citing your sources. 

FInding Images

FreeImages is a fantastic resource.

select free files from the advanced search options

For photos that are free to use, select Free Files after completing a search.

If you are doing a project on local or university history, check with the university library and public library archives to see if there are any historical photographs that are relevant to your poster.

Note: Remember to use proper attribution when using images from Butler's archival collections.

Accessing ARTstor Free Images:

ARTstor provides free use of images for noncommercial, scholarly and academic purposes through the Image for Academic Publishing (IAP) initiative.

In order to find images that are free to use add the keyword "IAP" to your search.

For example, if you are looking for images of works created by Leonardo Da Vinci you would search "Da Vinci IAP"

Google Image Search is quick and easy to use, and more often than not you can find the image you're looking for without too much effort.  However, because it searches for image names and contextual words on the basis of popularity, results tend to be uneven.

How to Find Free or Public Domain Images:

1. Do an initial search in the search box, similar to how you would search Google.

2. Under the search box on the results page, locate the Search Tools option. 

3. When you click Search Tools and additional line of options will appear.

4. In order to narrow your search to images that you can reuse, click Usage Rights, which will display a drop down of options. 

5. You can only choose one option at a time, but each option will define a specific circumstance for reuse, choose the one that is appropriate to your activity.

Flickr is an online photo management and sharing software which hosts the personal collections of its users and public archives. While many of the images are high-resolution and unaltered the quality will vary depending on the creator. You do not have to create an account to use flickr, just look for the search box in the top right hand corner to start. 

Flickr is also home to "The Commons," which includes the collections of over 45 institutions, including NASA, the Imperial War Museum, and the New York Public Library. 

Finding Free and Public Domain Images: 

1. Do a search for images that you would like to find in the search box.

2. Beneath the black heading bar there is an option to choose the license type, using the License drop down.

3. To narrow your results to only those that you can reuse, choose the Creative Commons option. 

With the Creative Commons option you can also choose if you would like to find images that can be reused for commercial purposes or that can be modified.

4. You can check the Copyright restrictions on images, by clicking on an image and locating the copyright symbols to the bottom right of the image. The Some rights reserved link will take you to an explanation of how you may use the image.

Image of flickr copyright symbols





 The same search techniques will work in both flickr and The Commons to find free and public domain images.

Medical-Related Sources with Public Domain and Copyrighted Images

Where can I find medical and health images?

These sites have a combination of public domain, Creative Commons licensed, or copyright protected images available. Check the terms and conditions for each image of any collection.

(Used with permission from H. Craven and R. Hinrichs at

Copyright and Images

Determining the Copyright for images from the internet can be tricky. Here are some resources to learn more about the topic.

Content which has a Creative Commons license is free to download, adapt, distribute, and transmit without having to ask permission.  Depending on the license, however, there may be certain conditions: you may only be able to use the content for educational purposes, you may have to give attribution, etc.  (Licensing characteristics can be found to the left of this box).  Because licenses vary, always be sure to check the exact terms of the license before using an image.


   Attribution: others can use the work however they like, so long as they give credit

   No Derivative Work: other can copy, display, or perform your work, but it must be verbatim

   Non-Commercial: other can use your work, but for non-commercial purposes only

   Share Alike: others can distribute derivative works, but only under the same terms as the original license


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