Thanks for joining us again. Last week, we covered how to insert video and subtitles into PowerPoint. We encourage you to do this with caution as there’s many things to consider, i.e., how and where shared, file sizes, etc.

Moving on. This week, we want to look at images within PowerPoint. It’s a large topic. So we’ll spend a few weeks on this theme. Let’s start off with some image considerations.


There’s good reason to include images in your slides. Images can convey 1,000 words but it’s important they are relevant to the subject of the teaching content and/or presentation. Throughout this blog, when the word ‘image’ is used, we refer to any visual content, i.e., infographics, charts, diagrams, images, video, etc.

PowerPoint Slides and Layout

In PowerPoint, you can add a slide to your presentation. To do this, click on the Home tab, Layout and click the appropriate slide layout:

PowerPoint - inserting a slide
PowerPoint – inserting a slide

Any content you insert will appear on a slide. Slides should always be one of the PowerPoint layouts as per the dropdown menu. It might be you intend the slide to only have an image displayed on it. Or, you might decide to display an image and text together.

This is the best layout for a title and image or text:

PowerPoint Layout - slide with title for text or image
PowerPoint Layout – slide with title for text or image

And this layout can be used for a title, text and image. Just remember to be consistent with image / text placement.

PowerPoint Layout - slide with title for text and image
PowerPoint Layout – slide with title for text and image
Inserting an image

To insert an image from your computer onto the slide, there’s two methods. Using the ribbons (method 1) or the slide content holder icons (method 2).

Method 1

Click the content holder you intend the image to appear and go to the Insert tab, Picture and This Device:

PowerPoint - inserting a picture
PowerPoint – inserting a picture

Navigate to the folder where the picture is currently.

Method 2

Click the content holder you intend the image to appear and click the image icon:

Insert image icon
Insert image icon

Navigate to the folder where the picture is currently.

Now an image has been inserted, let’s look at a few considerations where images are concerned:

  • file size / detail
  • copyright
  • description
File size

Why is file size important? Below you will find an image around the size of a stamp (actual size).

redit: TBS-44
Credit: TBS-44

Firstly, if an image is too small it might need sized up on your slide. This might result in poor visual quality (see below). Essentially, you’ve stretched up the content which may have originally been the size of a postage stamp. It’s not clear and defined at larger sizes. The quality is not there.

Credit: TBS-44
Credit: TBS-44

On the flip side, you might be inserting a photograph from a camera. This can be 10MB+ regardless of how big it appears on the slide. If you insert 10 images of this file size, your PowerPoint file size will be 100MB+ in size, i.e., not very shareable and slow to load/download.

In the example below, you can see this image (in the folder) is 4.67MB in size. Photos can be much bigger.

Example image to show file size
Example image to show file size

That said, if you’re using photographs, resolution for those should be 300ppi (pixels per inch). Top quality. Other images (non-photos) may be 220, 150 or 96ppi. This depends on their creation, i.e., if content was scanned or screen shot, it would use lower pixels per inch.

Example image to show dimensions in pixels
Example image to show dimensions in pixels

Do you know the size of your PowerPoint slides? Typically they are 16:9 wide screen with a height of 33.87cm and width of 19.05cm. However, when a slideshow is underway, it’s limited by the resolution of the screen, i.e., 1920×1080.

Video inserted onto slides can result in even bigger file sizes, so do consider what you need and why.

You’ve found a good image. Can you use the content?

Copyright is something you need to adhere to by law. Just because content is available on the Internet, this does not mean its free to use. You should seek permission to use content that you do not own. Sometimes, this can involve a cost and a contract which stipulates the content size, where used and duration of use.

Do look for the copyright symbol on content (below).

Copyright symbol
Copyright symbol

This means it’s copyright protected. Even if content doesn’t have the symbol beside it, it’s still protected and not for use without permission. If you use someone else’s content without their permission, it’s copyright theft / infringement which can lead to legal proceedings.

You can read more here: Copyright, what you need to know. However, there are alternatives to using copyright protected content.

Creative Commons have a list of licenses applied to content which can be freely used. Do have a read through the different license types and the parameters of use. The license which is most open is CC0 and content under this license can be used and/or amended with the authors name accredited to the image.

Read more about Creative Commons.

So where can you find this content? We’re glad you asked. There’s a few creative commons sites which include:

When downloading from these sites, there are size options. We generally download the largest file size and keep it as a source copy. The image can be opened, resized and saved out as a smaller image for use elsewhere, i.e., Twitter or blog posts, etc. This helps streamline file sizes and makes makes content quicker to load on slower Internet connections.

In addition, you can use the advanced search features on Google to search for Creative Commons or CC0 images but do double-check the terms and conditions of content over and above this search as sometimes errors creep in. It’s your responsibility to ensure content is CC0 licensed and useable.


This is the digital accessibility part. Putting images into your presentations makes them aesthetic and the images should relate to the talk or teaching you’re about to deliver. However, let’s consider audience members with low or no vision and those who use screen readers for a variety of reasons.

Screen readers cannot ‘see’ images. They rely upon ALT Text descriptions being added to the metadata of the image within PowerPoint (or webpage). This behind-the-scenes description is what will be read out to the users of screen readers.

There’s a few best practices here.


  • Enter descriptions for visual content
  • If images are decorative, mark them as decorative and ignore adding a description

Please do not:

  • Enter file names as descriptions
  • Use the auto-generate feature, it’s not accurate and likely to misdirect students
  • Clutter the slide with lots of images, separate them out onto separate slides
  • Screen shot text as images, these are inaccessible

In PowerPoint, click on the image you want to add a description to. Click Picture Format, ALT Text and the ALT Text Panel will pop out from the right hand side.

Simply add your description in the text box.

PowerPoint - adding an ALT Text description to an image
PowerPoint – adding an ALT Text description to an image

You will find ALT Text in other areas of PowerPoint, i.e., in the Check Accessibility feature, the New Accessibility Tab and it can also be found by right-clicking the image and Edit ALT Text.

In summary

We know this is just an introduction to adding images and visual content to your slides. It’s maybe not even the interesting part at this stage, but certainly in terms of where the images come from, permissions, adding descriptions for digital accessibility, those are important things to know.

Next time

Next week, we’ll be looking at how to size, position and crop your images in PowerPoint. The following weeks, we’ll look at how to do basic manipulations, recolour and make images transparent.

Remember, the DigiKnow blog posts are released at noon on a Monday.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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