Rules for Images

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe ten thousand, these days. We also know that every picture tells a story, but finding good, clean, legal images isn’t easy.

If you are a photographer or an artist in your own right, it is relatively easy to compose images for your stories. If you’re not an artist or photographer, you may have to improvise.

Note: Do not insert images into the version of the article in your word processor. Insert images directly into the WordPress version of the article in the Tellus Text Editor following the instructions in the Step-by-Step Instructions. 


  • ONE Featured image is required for each articles. Our system will not allow you to save an article that does not have a featured image.
  • Featured images should be 640 pixels wide x 480 pixels high. Featured images must always be in this 1.3 x 1 ratio.
  • Featured images appear ABOVE the headline on each article.
  • Featured images appear on the Home Page next to the headline and excerpt for your article.
  • They also appear in the sidebars whenever your articles are listed in a sidebar.
  • DO NOT RE-USE A FEATURED IMAGE unless you are choosing to use a picture of yourself as a featured image. (I wouldn’t do this myself, but some people seem to think it’s a good idea.)

General Rules for Images

  • If you have the skills to build composite images using Photoshop or Gimp, you can use PORTIONS of a copyrighted image. We do this all the time. The general rule is that no more than 20 percent of your composite image can be from any one source.
  • Another trick is to reverse the image but this can only be done with images that do not have any text in them because the text will be backwards after you flip the image.
  • You can look for copyright-free images. Start with Wikipedia. Every image in Wikipedia is covered by the Creative Commons license so you may freely copy and use images found on Wikipedia as long as you give proper credit. (See below for crediting instructions.)
  • You can look for copyright-free images using a search engine browser. Simply enter a search time related to the subject you are writing about and see what comes up.
  • Do not use any image that has a watermark embossed onto it. Those are all copyrighted images. Avoid anything from Getty Images for the same reason.
  • If an image has been widely copied and re-used, it is generally safe to use it again. The trick to finding out how widely copied an image has been is to use the Google Image Search tool. Just position your cursor over the image, right click on the image and select “Search Google for Image.”
  • Do NOT use recognizable images of children under the age of 16 unless the child in question is the subject of an article.
  • You may not use pictures of naked people unless it is a legitimate part of the story. Nudity is acceptable in fine art images such as a painting or a piece of sculpture and in news stories.
  • Try to avoid images that have text in them. We often have to reverse images to solve layout issues and you can’t reverse images with text in them.
  • Do not use icons or symbols as images. (Okay, TRY not to use icons or symbols.)
  • If you are using original photographs with recognizable individuals in them, you must have release forms from those individuals. Exception: photographs taken in the course of covering a news story are exempt from this requirement.
  • Images captured from videos are acceptable as long as they are credited.
  • Try to find high contrast images when possible. Try to find color images rather than black and white images.
  • Do not use the same image more than once in a given article. Avoid re-using images in successive articles.