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Referencing Guide: Using Images in Academic Work

Find your referencing style and learn how to reference correctly

Using Images in Academic Work

If you want to use an image, photograph, graphic, drawing or artwork to illustrate a point in your essay or enhance an assignment, this Libguide will give you some options for finding and using images without having to worry about infringing copyright or being penalised academically for plagiarising.

Citation is still important, however the images are copyright free so you will not be stepping on anyone's creative toes by using the image they have created. The sources on this site are specifically designed to allow creators and users of images to share and access images which have no copyright constraints.

Using Creative Commons Images

What you need to check before using an image

Before using an image you must check if the image is free and also if permission is required to use the image.

You also need to ask if you need to cite the image in a particular way and if there are any restrictions on how you can use the image.


The majority of images are protected by copyright whether or not this is explicitly stated.

Using these images for anything other than purely academic purposes is likely to be a breach of copyright and therefore illegal.

Using copyright protected images without permission could entail:

  • Compulsory removal of images
  • Request for payment
  • Potential legal action
  • Coursework being rejected by tutors or examiners
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