Wikipedia:Gallery pages

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Galleries are pages which contain large numbers of media content—almost always, images—with little or no supporting text. Large numbers of galleries have been deleted from Wikipedia per WP:NOT. This is usually cited in this context as WP:NOT an image gallery, which is a paraphrase of the official policy that Wikipedia articles are not mere collections of photographs or media files. There are, therefore, very few gallery-articles left on Wikipedia in the main article namespace (see [1]). This page defines how, when, and where gallery-articles should and should not be used. It is not concerned with the use of the gallery feature within pages that are predominantly text-based articles.

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee is the world's second largest freshwater aquarium.


Graphic illustration of terms used on this page.
media file
Almost always an image or image thumbnail. It may also, for example, be an Ogg format sound or video file; more properly, the content displayed when such a file is linked using normal MediaWiki syntax. From this point, image will be taken as synonymous with "media file".
An image thumbnail: the display of an image at reduced size, however generated. "Thumbs" are a subset of "images".
image page
Any page within the Image: namespace (often called an "image description page"). Clicking any image will normally take the reader to its image page.
Includes all main namespace article content.
Includes all pages within the User: and User talk: namespaces.
Includes, for the purposes of this discussion, all other namespaces and all talk pages.
Any page or page section which consists entirely or almost entirely of images or thumbs. Note: In fact most references to "galleries" in the text below clearly refer to "gallery pages" only.
gallery page
A page that consists entirely or almost entirely of one or more galleries.
For the purposes of this discussion, any mainspace page not a gallery page.
Any short block of text that accompanies an image.
image name
A very short description of an image, such as "Main entrance of Shedd Aquarium". This is not the filename or image page name. It may be the image page name with Image: and .jpg (etc.) removed but if the filename is obscure, this is not satisfactory.
Any page referenced from a given gallery via the What links here tool; that is, any page that links to the given gallery.
Any backlink which is not itself linked from the given gallery.


Gallery pages, as opposed to small galleries within articles, are generally discouraged. There are, however, a fairly small number of good galleries in the Wikipedia namespace (see [2], and also Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Robert Peake the Elder).

No clear-cut rule forbids any type of gallery; instead the pros and cons of each gallery must be considered. To this consideration are added some commonsense guidelines.

Mainspace galleries[edit]

  1. Mainspace gallery pages must be titled (e.g.) Gallery of sovereign-state flags. A single gallery section within an article should be titled Gallery. Few articles should have more than one gallery section.
  2. To be of benefit to the general reader, a mainspace gallery must meet a minimum standard of general interest. A rough gauge of this standard is the number of backlinks for a given gallery. Galleries with few backlinks are presumed to be of narrow interest; those with none are certainly so. Inlinks weigh much more heavily than other backlinks.
  3. A short introduction to a gallery is expected. Do not just dump the thumbs on the reader; explain in some detail why they are grouped together.
  4. Mainspace galleries must contain a predominance of images that are individually worthy of inclusion in mainspace. Grouping a large number of orphaned images into a gallery does not keep them from being orphans; nor does this make a good namespace gallery.
  5. A caption must attach to every image in a mainspace gallery. At minimum, this must link to the image page and name the image. A short description of the image is strongly encouraged, such as the date, time of day or year, portion of the subject shown, or (for derivative works) original creator. Names should distinguish one image from the next, supplying an indirect rationale for inclusion in the given gallery.
  6. Images of poor quality, perhaps uploaded only to support the work of editors on an article, should not be included in a mainspace gallery.
  7. The gallery tag format is discouraged in mainspace in favor of better-looking, more flexible formats. Regardless of format, no gallery should be excessive in size—either in overall number of images or in pixel width. Large galleries should be broken into smaller galleries, each indexed at a master page. (Indexed, not transcluded!)
  8. Use the categorization [[Category:Image galleries]] or one of its subcategories for all gallery pages.

Userspace galleries[edit]

  1. Userspace galleries are generally permitted. Typical uses are to organize material for your current work on articles, to showcase a collection of barnstars or other Wikipedia-related awards or to help other editors to understand with whom they're working.
  2. Images should not be uploaded merely to fill a userspace gallery. Images appearing only within a userspace gallery are presumed to have been uploaded for private amusement and are subject to deletion as orphans. This is a rebuttable presumption (If they can be legitimately used in articles, they may be).
  3. Userspace galleries must never be linked from mainspace.
  4. It is possible to misuse a userspace gallery. (WP:BEANS.) Any such misuse, besides subjecting the misuser to sanctions under other policies, subjects the gallery in question to the possibility of deletion.
  5. Like other user page content, userspace galleries are subject to both the letter and spirit of Wikipedia's user page guideline. In particular, user pages are not personal home pages nor is Wikipedia a free host, webspace provider, communal image-sharing service or social networking site.
  6. Finally, all images must not have copyright problems. Note that only completely "free" pictures can be directly displayed, others must be linked to.

Projectspace galleries[edit]

  1. Projectspace galleries are encouraged. A typical use is to group all images related to a project in one place, for reference. Another is to provide a pool of images from which any may be chosen to illustrate an article.
  2. These tools for the editing process must include a caption for each image, consisting at minimum of a link to the image page. The text of the link must be visible. (Don't pipe out the filename with alternate text.)
  3. Projectspace galleries must never be linked from mainspace.


Costs associated with galleries are small but significant. These must be balanced against benefits to determine if a gallery is permitted.

  • Uploaded images are not served to browsers of a gallery. Instead, the engine creates new image files at a reduced size. These must either be taken from cache or newly generated for every image in every gallery when viewed. For large galleries, this can be a fairly large performance hit.
  • All images take up a certain amount of storage. This cost is generally minimal in dollar terms but very large in comparison to text. For example, Shedd Aquarium is a 1.3 MB file. This is roughly equivalent to 650 double-spaced typewritten pages or 20-40 pages of Wikipedia HTML. Images appearing only in galleries incur this cost as well.
  • Readers who attempt to load a gallery may become frustrated. Although each thumb is fairly small, the large number of HTTP requests tends to make for a very slow load. Also, consider that each thumb's file size is roughly that of an entire HTML page of text.
  • Galleries in mainspace are indexed just like articles; therefore, Random article may take a reader to one. Thus, like all mainspace pages, it's important that galleries uphold a minimum standard of quality lest the overall image of Wikipedia be degraded.
  • Due to technical limitations and bugs, the engine may not create good thumbs for all media files.


Benefits of galleries are disputed. There is general agreement that some galleries contribute important quality to the project but many do not. These benefits must be balanced against costs to determine if a gallery is warranted.

  • Some topics are best illustrated by a gallery. As always, the best definition of a thing is the thing itself. Sometimes, one or even three images is not enough.
  • Sometimes a gallery is a useful index into a large number of related articles. To claim this benefit, of course, each image in the gallery must link to a related article.
  • The whole may be more than the sum of its parts. Occasionally, simply grouping a number of images together may reveal something of value to the reader, even if that value cannot be put into words. Common themes may unexpectedly appear—or expected themes fail to materialize.
  • Projectspace galleries can be important tools, even if some images are never used outside of the gallery.
  • Userspace galleries, like much userspace content, form part of the social glue that binds our community.

Good galleries[edit]

These galleries may not yet conform to all the standards outlined here but they represent the type of gallery our community has found useful.

  • Gallery of sovereign-state flags: Short introduction, good layout, each caption links to related article. All images in the gallery appear elsewhere in mainspace; some frequently. There are many backlinks and some inlinks. An average reader might happen upon a flag illustrated elsewhere, perhaps on a highway billboard, and resort to this gallery to identify it.
  • Gallery of the Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom: Short introduction places gallery in context. Each caption links to related article and gives dates of reign. Monarchs are organized by date and sorted into houses. One shortcoming is that there are few backlinks and no inlinks. An average reader might well come across an uncaptioned photo of a royal in some odd publication and wish to identify him; this serves such a purpose.

Fair use[edit]

An important element of the fair use doctrine is ...the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.... In simple terms this means that copying one page from a comic book may be okay but copying 12 of them all at one time is probably not.

This element is extremely important when fair-use images are used in galleries. If one image, say, from a copyrighted book, is used in an article, it may be fair use. Then another image from the same book is used in another article and so on. If all of these images from the same book appear in a single gallery, it is almost certainly not fair use.

Another element of fair use suggests that it is acceptable to use copyrighted material to illustrate the subject of an article. So, it is fair use to illustrate Carl's Jr. with its own copyrighted Carl's Jr. logo. It is probably not fair use of that same image in Globalization.

Galleries may be on very shaky ground when it comes to fair use images. It's probably best to avoid them entirely and stick to public domain and freely licensed images. See Wikipedia:Fair use.


Some methods of creating galleries are listed for the benefit of the editor.


  • The quickest way to create a gallery is with the gallery tag, <gallery>. This is, like most easy solutions, not the best. This is generally suitable for only the most basic galleries.
  • A fast way to create an automatic gallery of a set of images is to tag each one with a Category. Category pages, like any other, can be edited to add useful text and may themselves be categorized. The automatic gallery (similar to those made with the gallery tag) cannot be edited, styled, or even copied out.
  • Tables may be used to great advantage. A simple table uses one cell per image, with its caption in the same cell. A more advanced table uses alternating rows of cells of images and captions. The thumb size can be adjusted and, depending on the size and number of thumbs, the overall width of the table can be adjusted for a good fit to the page. For a moderate example of this method, see Mille Bornes#Deck. This is the preferred format for mainspace galleries.
  • As more text is added to a gallery, it is often converted to a list. This resembles a table-format gallery but each row in the table is devoted to a single image and its notes. Columns are used to classify notes and backgrounds may be used to make distinctions between entries. For a good example of this method, see List of Presidents of the United States. This extension of table format is a commendable goal.
  • Some editors prefer CSS galleries in which a number of images are floated, one after the other. This method has all the advantages usually cited for CSS; it also suffers from many of the usual weaknesses, such as poor legacy browser support and the technical complexity of writing the code. One nice feature of a floated gallery is that it will reorganize to fit the reader's browser window width.


One way to avoid having your gallery deleted is to upload it—images and page—to Commons. This is not itself Wikipedia but images uploaded there can be used here. Commons has its own policies, notably that all uploads be freely licensed; however it is generally more open to large quantities of media content than Wikipedia.

External hosting[edit]

There are a large number of photo sharing websites not associated with Wikipedia. Some are free, some are copyleft, some offer premium services for a fee. Although any particular host may be unsuitable for a particular image gallery, there is almost certainly a host to fill any need.

If you're having trouble making a given gallery conform to Galleries policy, you may want to consider external hosting. Wikipedia does not allow direct display of external images but you can link to them using external link form. For example, see this image on this page.

An external host may be a good place to put images while you decide which ones belong on Wikipedia; you can also show collaborators what you have. Be aware of licensing restrictions, of course, as always.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

External photo sharing hosts: