Step 6: Using Compelling and Appropriate Images

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Images—graphs and charts, clip art and photos—are an important component of educational materials. By choosing thoughtfully, you can make your materials more compelling and more immediately relevant to your audience than by using text alone.

The use of images that are sensitive and appropriate is critical; pay special attention to this during the initial development of your materials. And once your materials are developed, pretest them to ensure that your images and text are clear and not offensive. See Step 8: Testing Your Materials.

When selecting images for your tobacco education materials, keep in mind:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What will they respond to?
  • What messages do you want to convey to them?

Images can provide motivation

The visual on the cover of your document provides the face of your program and sets the tone for the reader. Using familiar images attracts attention and engages people in your materials.

Images can tell a story

People will remember a good story better than they remember facts and figures. Use familiar images and characters to help people relate the text to their own problems or problems in their community.

Some Guidelines for Using Images

  • Limit the number of images you put on a page; too many on one page can be overwhelming.
  • Use images that are appropriate for the target audience.
  • Display images in context so your audience can relate to them.
  • Make sure images are not too abstract or difficult to understand.
  • Consider using captions to explain the images and how they relate to the materials being presented.
  • Use images that are positive, showing a behavior you want to achieve (such as not smoking) versus a negative behavior (showing a person smoking).
  • When developing tobacco education materials, remember to consider cultural issues, norms, beliefs, values and practices of your target audience. Using specific colors, fonts, images and photos of group members conveys appropriateness for the target audience. Always present culture in a positive way.
  • Involve your target audience in the development process of your material, including your choice of images, by getting their feedback so that you will create a product that is relevant to that community.

Cost-Efficient Image Resources

Here are some ideas, tips and resources that will help you select appropriate, compelling images for use in your materials.

Use free graphics available with your software

The software you’re using to develop your tobacco education materials may come with clip art or photos. Microsoft and Adobe products have an array of free photos and illustrations available.

Use simple graphic elements to convey your message

Use the Webding and Winding fonts to obtain a variety of symbols and elements that can enhance your materials. Enlarge or add color to the elements for artistic effect.

Take your own photos

You may be able to take pictures of individuals from your community or from the population you’re trying to reach. If you do this, you’ll need to have every person appearing in your photos sign a Model Image Release Form. The model release form must be submitted to TEAM Lab along with the other required documents for submitting your project’s materials. Or you could enlist students and volunteers who are interested in building their portfolios or are motivated by passion for the issue. If a non-staff person takes a photo for you, you will need to obtain a signed Copyright Release Form from the photographer, even if they’re an amateur.

Ask professionals in your community to donate their artwork

Local photographers or artists may want to contribute their skills, time and effort to something that will benefit their community. Ask them to contribute to your project by donating photographs or artwork for your materials. Be sure to have the photographer/artist sign a Copyright Release Form whether they are donating or charging for the use of their artwork.

Use online photo resources

A number of websites offer low-cost stock photography taken by professional photographers. Search for images by keywords to find just what you’re looking for. Royalty-free stock images allow a buyer the ability to use an image in an unlimited number of ways for a single license fee, sometimes less than $10. Be sure to read the website’s copyright language to understand the terms of use. Two sites that offer a nice variety for a good price are and

Clip Art and Photo Collections on CD

Numerous sites feature online clip art. Or you can purchase CDs with thousands of images focusing on a specific topic or theme, often priced at $30-$70. offers image CDs; begin your search by typing “clip art” in the search box.

For consistency and visual appeal of your material, choose either Clip Art or stock photography. But use only one type of artwork throughout your document. Do not mix and match between clip art and stock photography.