Resources: Finding and Using Images

Presentation slides that are riddled with bullet points and text are deadly to an audience. You know the drill: The presenter reads the text aloud, while the audience attempts to read the text to themselves, and the end result is a broken connection between the presenter and the audience. By replacing large amounts of text with images that visually represent the topics being discussed, this problem can be avoided, and the audience is better able to recall this information in the future. This is a familiar concept.

We all strive to make our presentations more visually engaging, but quickly find this task to be difficult. We know that copying images from web searches is a bad idea, but aren’t sure where else to look. The UCSF Library has a great online guide that can help!

The UCSF Library’s Finding and Using Images ( online guide offers a number of useful links to online image galleries, books, image editing tools, and also provides information on copyright and fair use policies. There are a number of image resources for health sciences, in particular. The guide is comprehensive, organized, and a great place to get answers to your most pressing questions. At the very least, the guide will provide you with a moment of pause before you “borrow” anymore images from a Google image search!

Other options include Microsoft’s royalty free Image Gallery, and the medical images within the Springer Images database.

And we can’t forget about the Presentation Zen master himself, Garr Reynolds, and his “Where you can find good images?” post. In that post you’ll find a big ‘ol list of free and paid online image resources.

Here are a few additional thoughts about selecting and using images in your presentation:

  1. Be specific — Avoid using generic “filler” images. Each image in your presentation should have a purpose and represent a concrete idea or concept.
  2. Be consistent — Visual cohesion is important, and this applies to more than just the color palette and fonts used on your slides. Try to use graphics that are similarly styled, i.e. photos vs. illustrations. Use your presentation tool’s graphic styling options to add the same effects to all of your images throughout the presentation (i.e. borders and drop shadows).
  3. Make them big — The days of positioning small clip art graphics in the top-right corner of your slides are over. Make your images as big as possible for maximum affect and visibility. It’s perfectly OK to layer text over top of images, and to use multiple slides to display multiple images!
  4. Make your own — We will spend HOURS hunting the web for an image before we even consider creating our own. Are we afraid that we can’t create something that looks “good?” Everyone can draw basic shapes and figures, and everyone can use a digital camera. Snap a pic from the lab, draw something on scrap paper and scan it, or build a model from found objects! You don’t have to be a professional artist or photographer to create meaningful, relevant content. If you need help editing or scanning images, contact us in the LTG for help.
  5. Keep it simple — Images don’t have to be complex or fancy to be purposeful. Identify the key element of each concept, and focus on visually representing only that piece of information. All too often we include extraneous information, especially when display charts or graphs that actually detracts from our core message.

An example of a kept-simple medical presentation: Feels Bad on the Back
A presentation about achieving simplicity: Simplicity

Please contact us, or leave your ideas in the comments section below, if you have used other great resources!

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