Sourcing Images

To avoid licensing fees, we recommend selecting images that are in the public domain, carry a Creative Commons license, or are royalty-free. For more details on these three designations, we invite you to view the Cognella webinar titled “Creating a Figure Program.” Ask your project editor about how to access this session.

A Note on Images Found Online

Images found through Google image searches or on public websites typically can’t be used due to copyright restrictions. This is true of images found on blogs, websites with or without paywalls, and even educational sites. If selected for your project, these types of images will often need to be replaced, which slows down the pre-production and production of your Active Learning content. To minimize rework and delays, do your best to select images from sources provided by Cognella or create your own images.

Suggested low- or no-cost image sources that we recommend for Active Learning content include:

All-Purpose (Try These First!)

Wikimedia Commons*

Stock Images

Scale by Flexiple


Library of Congress*
Smithsonian Open Access
New York Public Library*
British Library*


National Institute of Health
SMART Servier Medical Art


Historical Maps: University of Texas Libraries
The World Factbook—CIA Maps
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (C-band data for North American and South America are available to the public)
U.S. Geological Survey Maps

*This site contains copyrighted images, though most are available to use for free. Be sure to check the licensing information listed for the specific photos you’d like to use before adding to your image log.