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Adding images to your paper: Image search strategies

This guide is created to help and guide you on how to search for images, how to use images in your text or paper, and how to cite images

Tips and Strategies

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.