Wikipedia:Image use policy

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This page sets out the policies towards images—including format, content, and copyright issues—applicable on the English-language edition of Wikipedia.

For information on media in general (images, sound files, etc.), see Wikipedia:Creation and usage of media files. For information on uploading, see Wikipedia:Uploading images, or go directly to Special:Upload. For other legal and copyright policies, see Wikipedia:List of policies#Legal.


Whenever you upload an image, you should meet the following minimal requirements.

  1. Always tag your image with one of the image copyright tags. When in doubt, do not upload copyrighted images.
  2. Always specify on the description page where the image came from (the origin, sometimes called its "source") and information on how this could be verified. Examples include scanning a paper copy, or a URL, or a name/alias and method of contact for the photographer. For screenshots this means what the image is a screenshot of (the more detail the better). Do not put credits in images themselves.

Rules of thumb[edit]

Below this brief checklist of image use rules is the detailed reasoning behind them.

  1. Use a clear, detailed title.
  2. Upload high-resolution images whenever possible (unless the image is being used under fair use; see Fair use images for details); the servers automatically scale images to the size called for at each point of use.
  3. Within reason, crop an image to remove irrelevant areas. But do not "throw away information"; for example, if a photograph shows George Washington and Abraham Lincoln together at a birthday party, and the article you're working on requires only Lincoln, consider uploading both the original image and the crop of Lincoln. Also, if an image has captions as an inherent part of the artwork (as with book illustrations, early cartoons, many lithographs, etc), don't crop them, or at least upload them cropped and uncropped.
  4. If you create an image that contains text, please also upload a version without any text. It will help Wikipedians translate your image into other languages.
  5. Try not to use color alone to convey information, as it is inaccessible in many situations.
  6. Use JPEG format for photographic images and TV or movie screenshots; SVG format for icons, logos, drawings, maps, flags, and such; PNG format for software screenshots and when only a raster image is available; GIF format for inline animations; and Ogg/Theora for video.
  7. Images are included in articles to increase the reader's understanding of the subject. Wikipedia is WP:NOTCENSORED, and explicit or even shocking pictures may serve an encyclopedic purpose, but editors should take care not to use such images simply to bring attention to an article.

Copyright and licensing[edit]

Before you upload an image, make sure that the image falls in one of the four categories:

Always note the image's copyright status on the image description page, and provide specific details about the image's origin. An Image copyright tag provides a standard template for the licensing of the image. The image summary provides necessary details to support the use of the image copyright tag. An image summary should contain the following:

Description: The subject of the image
Origin (source): The copyright holder of the image or URL of the web page the image came from
Author: The original creator of the image, especially if different from the copyright holder
Permission: Who or what law or policy gives permission to post on Wikipedia with the selected image copyright tag

In addition, the summary might also contain the following, where appropriate:

Date: Date the image was created. The more exact, the better
Location: Where the image was created. The more exact the better
Other versions of this file: Directs users to derivatives of the image if they exist on Wikipedia
More information on how to provide a good description of the image's origin
  • A good description of the origin for an image from an internet location is to point to the HTML page that contains the image ( and not directly to the image itself: (
  • A good description of the origin for an image from a book is to provide full a bibliographic citation for the book (Author, Title, ISBN number, page number(s), date of copyright, publisher information, etc.) and not just title and author.
  • A good description of the origin for a self-created image is to state "It is my own work." and not just use a tag that indicates it is your own work ({{self}} or {{PD-self}} for examples).

User-created images[edit]

Wikipedia encourages users to upload their own images. All user-created images must be licensed under a free license, such as the GFDL and/or an acceptable Creative Commons license, or released into the public domain, which removes all copyright and licensing restrictions. When licensing an image, it is best practice to multi-license under both GFDL and a Creative Commons license.

Such images can include photographs which you yourself took. The legal rights for images generally lie with the photographer, not the subject. Simply re-tracing a copyrighted image or diagram does not necessarily create a new copyright—copyright is generated only by instances of "creativity", and not by the amount of labor which went into the creation of the work. Photographs of three-dimensional objects almost always generate a new copyright, though others may continue to hold copyright in items depicted in such photographs. Photographs of two-dimensional objects such as paintings in a museum often do not (see the section on the "public domain" below). If you have questions in respect to this, please ask the regulars at Wikipedia talk:Copyrights.

Images with you, friends or family prominently featured in a way that distracts from the image topic are not recommended for the main namespace; User pages are OK. These images are considered self-promotion and the Wikipedia community has repeatedly reached consensus to delete such images.

Some images may contain trademarked logos incidentally (or purposely if the image is either freely licensed, covered under freedom of panorama, or being too simple to be copyrightable). If this is the case, please tag it with {{trademark}}.

Free licenses[edit]

For a list of possible licenses which are considered "free enough" for Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Image copyright tags. Licenses which restrict the use of the media to non-profit or educational purposes only (i.e. non-commercial use only), or which are given permission to appear only on Wikipedia, are not free enough for Wikipedia's usages or goals and will be deleted.[1] A list of websites that offer free images can be found at Wikipedia:Free image resources. In short, Wikipedia media (with the exception of "fair use" media—see below) should be as "free" as Wikipedia's content—both to keep Wikipedia's own legal status secure and to allow as much re-use of Wikipedia content as possible.

If the place where you found the image does not declare a pre-existing free license, yet allows use of its content under terms commonly instituted by them, it must explicitly declare that commercial use and modification is permitted. If it does not so declare, you must assume that you may not use the image unless you obtain verification or permission from the copyright holder .

Public domain[edit]

Public domain images are not copyrighted, and copyright law does not restrict their use in any way. Wikipedia pages, including non-English language pages, are hosted on a server in the United States, so U.S. law governs whether a Wikipedia image is in the public domain.

Images may be placed into the public domain by their creators, or they may be public domain because they are ineligible for copyright or because their copyright expired. In the U.S., copyright has expired on any work published anywhere before January 1, 1923. Although U.S. copyrights have also expired for many works published since then, the rules for determining expiration are complex; see When does copyright expire? for details.

In the U.S., reproductions of two-dimensional public domain artwork do not generate a new copyright; see Bridgeman v. Corel. Scans of images alone do not generate new copyrights—they merely inherit the copyright status of the image they are reproducing. For example, a straight-on photograph of the Mona Lisa is ineligible for copyright.

If you strongly suspect an image is a copyright infringement you should list it for deletion; see Deleting images below. For example, an image with no copyright status on its file page and published elsewhere with a copyright notice should be listed for deletion.

Fair use images[edit]

Some usage of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright holder can qualify as fair use in the United States (but not in most other jurisdictions). However, since Wikipedia aims to be a free-content encyclopedia, not every image that qualifies as fair-use may be appropriate.

Unauthorized use of copyrighted material under an invalid claim of fair use constitutes copyright infringement and is illegal. Media which are mistagged as fair use or are a flagrant copyright violation can be removed on sight. Editors who notice correctable errors in fair use tags or fair use rationales are urged to fix them, if able. Voluntarily fixing such problems is helpful to Wikipedia, though many errors may be impossible to fix.[why?] Frequent uploading of non-fair use non-free material can be justification for banning a Wikipedia user.

See also:

Deleting images[edit]

  1. Consider contacting the user who uploaded the image, telling them of your concerns. You may be able to resolve the issue at this point.
  2. Add a deletion notice to the image description page
    • If it is an obvious copyright violation: use the {{db-f9}} or {{db-filecopyvio}} tag
    • If it falls under certain of the other conditions listed under WP:CSD#Files: use {{subst:nsd}} for files that lack a description of its origin, {{subst:nld}} for files that lack licensing information, {{subst:nsdnld}} for files that lack both of these, {{subst:npd}} for files that have a licensing statement but no evidence that it really applies
    • If it is tagged as non-free but obviously fails the non-free content policy in certain ways: use {{subst:orfud}} if it isn't used in any article, {{subst:rfud}} if it is replaceable with a free file, {{subst:nrd}} if it lacks a non-free content rationale, {{subst:dfu}} if the rationale is in some other way obviously insufficient
    In all these cases, the file will be deleted by an administrator after a waiting period of a few days.
  3. If the file is tagged as freely licensed but you have reasons to suspect this tagging is false: list the file under possible unfree files, by adding the {{puf}} template on the file and then adding a listing to the WP:PUF pages following the instructions in the tag.
  4. If you think it should be deleted for some other reason: list the file under files for deletion, by adding the {{ffd}} template on the file and then adding a listing to the WP:FFD pages following the instructions in the tag. This process may be used for images that are low quality, obsolete, unencyclopedic, likely to remain unused, or whose use under the non-free content rules is disputed.
  5. For disputed non-free files, you may alternatively use a listing on the non-free content review page.
  6. In each case, give proper notification to the uploader, following the instructions in the deletion tag.

To actually delete an image after following the above procedure, you must be an administrator. To do so, go to the image description page and click the (del) or Delete this page links. Administrators can also restore deleted images.

Image titles and file names[edit]


Descriptive file names are also useful. A map of Africa could be called "Africa.png", but quite likely more maps of Africa will be useful in Wikipedia, so it is good to be more specific in a meaningful way, e.g. "Africa political map Jan. 2012.png", or "Africa political map with red borders.png". Check whether there are already maps of Africa in Wikipedia. Then decide whether your map should replace one (in each article that uses it) or be additional. In the first case give it exactly the same name, otherwise a suitable other name. Avoid special characters in filenames or excessively long filenames, though, as that might make it difficult for some users to download the files onto their machines. Note that names are case sensitive, "Africa.PNG" is considered different from "Africa.png". For uniformity, lower case file name extensions are recommended.

You may use the same name in the case of a different image that replaces the old one, and also if you make an improved version of the same image – perhaps a scanned image that you scanned again with a better quality scanner, or you used a better way of reducing the original in scale – then upload it with the same title as the old one. This allows people to easily compare the two images, and avoids the need to delete images or change articles. However, this is not possible if the format is changed, since then at least the extension part of the name has to be changed.


See Wikipedia:Image markup for recommendations on the best markup to use. For ideas and examples of how to place images, see Wikipedia:Picture tutorial.

Image galleries[edit]

"WP:IG" redirects here. For the igloo anti-vandalism tool, see Wikipedia:igloo.
"WP:Gallery" redirects here. For for the <gallery> tag, see Wikipedia:Gallery tag.

Images are typically interspersed individually throughout an article near the relevant text (see WP:MOSIMAGES). However, the use of a gallery section may be appropriate in some Wikipedia articles if a collection of images can illustrate aspects of a subject that cannot be easily or adequately described by text or individual images. The images in the gallery collectively must have encyclopedic value and add to the reader's understanding of the subject. Images in a gallery should be suitably captioned to explain their relevance both to the article subject and to the theme of the gallery, and the gallery should be appropriately titled (unless the theme of the gallery is clear from the context of the article). Images in a gallery should be carefully selected, avoiding similar or repetitive images, unless a point of contrast or comparison is being made. Just as we seek to ensure that the prose of an article is clear, precise and engaging, galleries should be similarly well-crafted. See 1750–75 in Western fashion for an example of a good use of galleries.

However, Wikipedia is not an image repository. A gallery is not a tool to shoehorn images into an article, and a gallery consisting of an indiscriminate collection of images of the article subject should generally either be improved in accordance with the above paragraph or moved to Wikimedia Commons. Links to the Commons categories can be added to the Wikipedia article using the {{Commons}}, {{Commons-inline}}, or {{Commons category}} templates. One rule of thumb to consider: if, due to its content, such a gallery would only lend itself to a title along the lines of "Gallery" or "Images of [insert article title]", as opposed to a more descriptive title, the gallery should either be revamped or moved to the Commons.

Articles consisting entirely or primarily of galleries are discouraged, as the Commons is intended for such collections of images.

Using animated GIFs to display multiple photos is discouraged. The method is not suitable for printing and also is not user-friendly (users cannot save individual images and have to wait before being able to view images while other images cycle round).

Fair-use images should almost never be included as part of a general image gallery, because their "fair use" status depends on their proper use in the context of an article (as part of analysis or criticism). See Wikipedia:Fair use for details. An example of an exception might be a gallery of comparable screenshots from a video game as it appears on two different platforms, provided that the differences are relevant (e.g. if the article discusses a controversy in the gaming press about the matter).

Collages and montages[edit]


Collages and montages are single images that illustrate multiple closely related concepts, where overlapping or similar careful placement of component images is necessary to illustrate a point in an encyclopedic way. (See File:Phoebian Explorers 2 PIA06118.jpg for an example montage.) The components of a collage or montage, as well as the collage or montage itself, must be properly licensed; and (as with galleries) fair-use components are rarely appropriate, as each non-free image used in the creation of the montage contributes towards consideration of minimal use of non-free images. If a gallery would serve as well as a collage or montage, the gallery should be preferred, as galleries are easier to maintain and adjust better to user preferences.

Image queuing[edit]


If an article seems to have too many images for its present text, consider moving some of them temporarily to the talk page, possibly using the <gallery>. However, fair-use images should not be moved to talk pages, for two reasons:




  • Drawings, icons, political maps, flags and other such images are preferably uploaded in SVG format as vector images. Images with large, simple, and continuous blocks of color which are not available as SVG should be in PNG format.
  • Software screenshots should be in PNG format.
  • Photos and scanned images should be in JPEG format, though a PNG may be useful as well: JPEGs are a lossy image format, and PNGs allow further editing without degrading the image.
  • TV and movie screenshots should be in JPEG format.
  • Inline animations should be in animated GIF format.
  • Video should be in Ogg/Theora format.

Generally speaking, you should not contribute images consisting solely of formatted or unformatted text, tables, or mathematical formulas. In most cases these can instead be typed directly into an article in wiki markup (possibly using MediaWiki's special syntax for tables, math). This will make the information easier to edit, as well as make it accessible to users of screen readers and text-based browsers.

In general, if you have a good image that is in the wrong format, convert it to the correct format before uploading. However, if you find a map, flag, etc. in JPEG format, only convert it to PNG if this reduces the file size. For further advice on converting JPEG to PNG, see Wikipedia:How to reduce colors for saving a JPEG as PNG.

Most of the maps on the CIA World Factbook website were coded as JPEG, but are now coded as GIF. To update these photos, download the GIF picture from the CIA factbook, resave it in PNG format, and upload it to Wikipedia.

Try to avoid editing JPEGs too frequently—each edit creates more loss of quality. If you can find an original of a photograph in 16-bit or 24-bit PNG or TIFF, edit that, and save as JPEG before you upload. A limited variety of edits (crops, rotation, flips) can be performed losslessly using jpegcrop (Windows) or jpegtran (other); try to use this where possible.

Avoid images that mix photographic and iconic content. Though CSS makes it easy to use a PNG overlay on top of a JPEG image, the Wikipedia software does not allow such a technique. Thus, both parts must be in the same file, and either the quality of one part will suffer, or the file size will be unnecessarily large.

Direct SVG support is implemented as of September 2005 (see meta:SVG image support). The SVG is dynamically rendered as a PNG at a given size when inserted into an article. If you find that a SVG image is being cropped too closely by Wikimedia's rendering software, one way around this is to draw a box around the image at the distance it should be cropped, and set the box to have no fill and no stroke color.


Displayed image size[edit]


Images adjacent to text should generally carry a caption and use the "thumb" (thumbnail) option, which displays the image at a width determined as follows:

  • A1. For a not-logged-in user, the width—​before any scaling due to upright (see B below)—​is 220 pixels
  • A2. For a logged-in user, the width—​before any scaling—​is as set in that user's user preferences (and that setting, if the user has not changed it, is 220 px)
  • B. If the upright parameter is present, then the initial width determined by A1 or A2 is multiplied by the upright scaling factor. This allows article editors to modify the user's "base" image-size preference, according to the characteristics of a particular image. For example:
    • |thumb|upright=1.4 might be used for an image with fine detail, so that it will be rendered "40% larger than this user generally wants"
    • |thumb|upright=0.75 might be used for an image with little detail, which can be adequately displayed "25% smaller than this user generally wants".
    • "Landscape" images (short and wide) often call for upright greater than 1. Similarly, "portrait" images (tall and narrow) may look best with upright less than 1.


  • |thumb (with upright completely missing) multiplies the width by 1.0 i.e. does nothing; but
  • |thumb|upright (with upright present, but no multiplier given) multiplies the width by 0.75, to keep Wikipedians on their toes.
  • A common mistake is to omit thumb, without which strange things happen.
  • Lead images should usually be no wider than upright=1.35 (which is the default equivalent of 300px).

See the Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Images § Size for guidance on expanded or reduced image sizes.

In contrast to upright, syntax such as thumb|300px simply sets a fixed image width, ignoring the user's base preference. In general, do not use px without very good reason; upright=scaling factor is preferred wherever sensible. Where px is used, the resulting image should be no more than 500 pixels tall and no more than 400 pixels wide, for comfortable display on the smallest devices in common use.

Images used in infoboxes are generated by many different means. The most common method used to implement upright is Module:InfoboxImage (see documentation there). Alternatively, infoboxes can use standard image syntax in the form of [[File:Westminstpalace.jpg|frameless|center|upright=scaling factor]]

Uploaded image size[edit]

Wikipedia and its sister projects are repositories of knowledge, so images should be uploaded at high resolution whether or not this seems "necessary" for the use immediately contemplated—​"saving server space" is not a valid consideration in general, though there is a 1,000-MB (1-GB) limit.

  • Exception: If the image is copyrighted and used under fair use, the uploaded image must be as low-resolution as possible consistent with its fair-use rationale, to prevent use of Wikipedia's copy as a substitute for the original work.
  • The servers automatically handle the scaling of images (whatever their original size) to the sizes called for in particular articles, so it is neither necessary nor desirable to upload separate reduced-size or reduced-quality "thumbnail" versions, although compressing PNGs may be useful.[vague]

Animated images[edit]


It may be preferable to convert a long or color-rich animation to Ogg/Theora format instead of GIF. Ogg does not allow an animation to play automatically on page loading, but it can contain audio and has generally better resolution.

Inline animations should be used sparingly; a static image with a link to the animation is preferred unless the animation has a very small file size. Keep in mind the problems with print compatibility mentioned above.


While the subject matter of this video is "bias", its artistic meaning is unclear and it should not be used to illustrate the concept in a Wikipedia article.

Images on Wikipedia should be used in an encyclopedic manner. They should be relevant and increase readers' understanding of the subject matter. In general, images should depict the concepts described in the text of the article.

Images should depict their content well (the object of the image should be clear and central). For more information on images please check out WP:Images which talks about uploading, using, choice & placement.

Media with contemporary art interpretations of concepts should not be used to illustrate articles unless they have historical significance.

Watermarks, credits, titles, and distortions[edit]


Free images should not be watermarked, distorted, have any credits or titles in the image itself or anything else that would hamper their free use, unless, of course, the image is intended to demonstrate watermarking, distortion, titles, etc. and is used in the related article. Exceptions may be made for historic images when the credit or title forms an integral part of the composition. Historical images in the public domain sometimes are out of focus; display dye dropouts, dust or scratches; or evidence of the printing process used. All photo credits should be in a summary on the image description page. These may be tagged {{Watermark}}.

Privacy rights[edit]

When taking pictures of identifiable people, the subject's consent is not usually needed for straightforward photographs taken in a public place, but is often needed for photographs taken in a private place. This type of consent is sometimes called a model release, and it is unrelated to the photographer's copyright.

Because of the expectation of privacy, the consent of the subject should normally be sought before uploading any photograph featuring an identifiable individual that has been taken in a private place, whether or not the subject is named. Even in countries that have no law of privacy, there is a moral obligation on us not to upload photographs which infringe the subject's reasonable expectation of privacy. If you upload a self-portrait, your consent is presumed.

What are public and private places?[edit]

For the purposes of this policy, a private place can be considered a place where the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy; and a public place is a place where the subject has no such expectation.

Examples of private places
  • Inside any private residence (including hotel rooms, tents, etc.)
  • Inside any restroom or dressing room
  • At any medical facility
  • Inside a private room in an otherwise public establishment such as a restaurant or hotel room
  • In the parts of a building where the general public is not allowed (for example, a private office)
Examples of public places
  • On the street or a sidewalk
  • Outdoors in an easily visible part of private property
  • In parks and recreation areas that are open to the public
  • At a large event where many people are openly taking pictures
  • In the parts of a building that are freely accessible to the general public (for example, a foyer or lobby)

Legal issues[edit]

There are a variety of non-copyright laws which may affect the photographer, the uploader and/or the Wikimedia Foundation, including defamation, personality rights and privacy rights. In consequence, the commercial use of these pictures may still be unacceptable unless the depicted person agrees.

Defamation may arise not only from the content of the image itself but also from its description and title when uploaded. An image of an identified unknown individual may be unexceptional on its own, but with the title "A drug-dealer" there may be potential defamation issues in at least some countries.

Moral issues[edit]

Not all legally obtained photographs of individuals are acceptable. The following types of image are normally considered unacceptable:

  • Those that unfairly demean or ridicule the subject
  • Those that are unfairly obtained
  • Those that unreasonably intrude into the subject's private or family life

These are categories which are matters of common decency rather than law. They find a reflection in the wording of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

The extent to which a particular photograph is "unfair" or "intrusive" will depend on the nature of the shot, whether it was taken in a public or private place, the title/description, and on the type of subject (e.g. a celebrity, a non-famous person, etc.). This is all a matter of degree. A snatched shot of a celebrity caught in an embarrassing position in a public place may well be acceptable to the community; a similar shot of an anonymous member of the public may or may not be acceptable, depending on what is shown and how it is presented.


Normally do not require consent of the subject
  • A street performer during a performance
  • An anonymous person in a public place, especially as part of a larger crowd
  • Partygoers at a large private party where photography is expected
  • A basketball player competing in a match which is open to the public
Normally do require consent
  • An identifiable child, titled "An obese girl" (potentially derogatory or demeaning)
  • Partygoers at a private party where photography is not permitted or is not expected (unreasonable intrusion without consent)
  • Nudes, underwear or swimsuit shots, unless obviously taken in a public place (unreasonable intrusion without consent)
  • Long-lens images, taken from afar, of an individual in a private place (unreasonable intrusion)


If an image requires consent, but consent cannot be obtained, there are several options. For example, identifying features can be blurred, pixelated, or obscured so that the person is no longer identifiable. Also, the picture may be re-taken at a different angle, perhaps so that the subject's face is not visible.

See also[edit]