Graphics – Free or Inexpensive

I include a picture or image in most of my posts. Finding those visual features can be challenging because of copyright issues. If you’re going to post a graphic publicly, you need to make sure you’re not violating copyright laws.

Today I’m going to offer you some free and low-cost resources for pictures and other graphic elements.

Jing: by far my favorite resource. I use Jing almost every day to capture pictures on my desktop or the Web. Here’s how it works: I find something I want to copy – put a box around it – click – and then save it as a .png.
Because I don’t own the rights to most of those pictures, they’re only for my personal use. But Jing is a great tool for creating my own graphics.
So I sometimes use the formatting features in Word to make my own graphics. I can make letters glow or add shadows, for example.
Here’s how: I make a Word document, play with it to get the effect I want, and then use Jing to convert the graphic into a .png, ready to upload.
You can also use Jing to turn PowerPoints into videos. If you have a headset, you can add narration.

Google: the Image search is another tool I use almost daily. Most images are protected by copyright law, but there’s a way to find images you can use without paying a royalty fee.
Here’s how: Go to and click Images. Then click Search tools. Then click Usage rights and Labeled for Noncommercial reuse.
Most of the images that show up fall into the “fair use” category – meaning you’re free to use them. But the search process isn’t infallible, so you should check the page where the image originally appeared to see if it is indeed copyright-free.

WikiCommons: if you need a picture of a historical event, a famous person. or a real place, you can probably find a royalty-free picture at WikiCommons ( Many other pictures are available as well. I even found a royalty-free .mp3 of a performance of the “Maple Leaf Rag” to use in a video.

Wikipedia: most of the pictures posted at Wikipedia entries are free. Click the picture to make sure – Wikipedia always posts guidelines for reusing a picture. you can make eye-catching “word clouds” to illustrate a concept. You need to have the latest version of Java installed. I made the word cloud below. a great source for professional quality pictures: This is the only resource in this list that isn’t free. My paid subscription entitles me to use up to 10 pictures a month. Unused pictures carry over to the next month. The website has a good search tool to help me find what I’m looking for. 

A Word Cloud I Made



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