Image Requirements

Here are guidelines to help you find new images that you can legally use or choose from photos you may already have on hand. Follow these guidelines to get the best results.

Permission and Attribution

If you are providing any images, be sure you have obtained any necessary permission to use them—unless they are your own or you know for certain that they are not protected by copyright, such as images from the public domain. Using images found through a Google images search is not OK and will open up your organization to copyright violation, which could result in hefty legal fees.

A credit to the photographer or source may or may not be required to appear with the image. Always convey this information to your designer.

If there any people in the photograph, you should obtain written consent from them. If they are minors, it is especially important to get consent—from a parent or legal guardian.


Providing images at the proper resolution is important for them to look crisp and not pixelated. We can always make an image smaller, but a degradation in quality is seen when enlarging. You will not know how large a photo or logo will be used and you may not be able to check the resolution yourself. That’s OK. If you plan to send photos to your designer, obtain the highest resolution photos possible. The designer will let you know if there is an issue with the resolution.

  • Photos and other types of raster (pixel-based) images should be a minimum of 300 ppi at the actual size at which they will be printed.
  • Logos and illustrations are best provided as a vector EPS or an Adobe Illustrator file. Both formats are resolution independent and able to be scaled to any size without sacrificing resolution.


In the creative process, sometimes we use a single image or combine several. If only one will be used, the orientation—vertical/portrait or horizontal/landscape—is important to consider. Here are two examples:

  • A website: For a photo that will span the width of a web page, a horizontal photo works best.
  • A book cover: Books can be either vertical or horizontal. For a photo being used on the cover of a book that is vertical, a vertical photo works best.

Again, there are exceptions depending upon how the image is used in the design. While it doesn’t occur often, there could be the constraint of having to use the photos on hand regardless of their orientation. Any limitations presented by the photos may dictate the direction the design takes.


When considering any photos you may have on hand to use, consider the crop of the photo:

  • Is anyone’s head cut off?
  • Is there a person you want to prominently feature but half their body isn’t in the picture?
  • Is the background full of noise, meaning a distracting wall pattern, undesirable objects (such as an emergency exit sign on the wall), people making faces? Some objects can be Photoshopped out, but sometimes the solution is to choose or take a better photo.

File Types

Send individual image files: PSD, TIFF, JPEG, PNG ,GIF, AI or EPS. Do not copy and paste images into a Word document.

  • For print work: PSD, TIFF, JPEG, AI or EPS are best.
  • For use in websites, e-mails or slide presentations: Send any image format.
  • Graphs or charts: These work best in their native format of Excel or Illustrator, or a PDF saved from Excel.

File Names

Clearly name any images you make reference to in your text document in order to make it easy for the designer to identify each one; for example, “Figure 5.”