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When to use images

Use images if they are useful and relevant. Don’t use purely decorative images.

That goes for graphs, charts and infographics as well as for photographs and illustrations.

Choosing images

Voice and tone

Images say as much about us as words. Use the voice and tone guidelines when you choose images.

Images of people

Choose images that are inclusive.

1. Avoid idealised, ‘photo-shoot’-style images of people. We want people to be able to identify with the images that they see. Choose normal pictures of normal people.

2. You should make sure images don't reinforce negative or stereotypical attitudes especially for ethnicity, age or gender. Studies have shown this can happen without us being aware of it. Run regular checks of images on the site to ensure this has not happened.


People tend to spend time reading captions, particularly if the image is good and relevant. Write captions in full sentences. They can be 2 or 3 sentences long. Follow the rules for language.

Formatting images

Image sizes

Press release thumbnail: 260 x 184 px

Image formats

Only use specific image formats.

• JPEG – use for photographic images and for screenshots from video.
• GIF/PNG – use for software screenshots, drawings, illustrations and any non-pictorial graphics.
• SVG – use for icons, logos, maps and anything that could or should be scalable.


Check you don’t stretch, blur or pixelate an image when you resize it.

Images of people

You need written consent from people before you publish their images on our website.

Only use images of people from the HSE image library.


There is no such thing as a ‘copyright free’ image. You can use:

• images that HSE owns the rights to use
• Creative Commons images with suitable licenses

If you are not sure the image is licenced for re-use, do not use it. If you are suspicious about a Creative Commons image, use a tool such as Tineye to check the source – but play it safe.

Creative Commons licenses

Instead of the standard “all rights reserved,” some creators choose to make their work available for public use with different levels of attribution required.

You can use images with these licences.


This means we can copy, display and change images, as long as we credit the original rights-holder.

Attribution no-derivs

This means we can copy and display images but cannot change them and must credit the original right-holder.

Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

This means the copyright-holder has given the image for public use and we can use it even without attribution.

Read about Creative Commons licenses.

How to attribute images

For Creative Commons images, write ‘Image by [author]: [CC licence]’. Link from the name of the author to the image source. Link from the name of the licence to the license description.

For example:


Image by tvol: CC BY 2.0