Skip to Main Content

Images: Evaluating Images

A multidisciplinary guide to searching, evaluating & referencing different types of images

How to evaluate images


Images should be critically evaluated like any other source to determine their quality, reliability, and appropriateness.

To evaluate images you should examine their content, context, source, and image quality.

  • What do you see?
    • Does the image contain people, clothing, buildings, or identifiable environments?
  • What is the image about?
    • Does it convey a message/story?
    • Is something happening in the image?
    • Does the image contain any symbols – what do they mean and why have they been used?
  • How are the visual elements such as colour, shape, or layout presented?
  • What information is provided (e.g. description)?
  • How is the textual information provided?
    • Is it factual and informative, or is it bias and persuasive?
    • Does it affect the way you view the image?
  • Where did you find the image?
    • Is it from an image database, social media platform, etc.?
  • What are the origins of the image?
    • Who owns it? Who’s the creator?
    • When was it made?
    • Is the image trustworthy?
  • Can I use this image?
    • What are the copyright restrictions?
  • Is the image in a useable file format?
    • Can it be opened/viewed on multiple devices?
  • How is the image resolution?
    • Is it clear, grainy, pixelated or distorted?
  • Is it the original image, or has it been manipulated (e.g. cropped, colour changed, details removed/added)?

How to find an image's origin


You can use Google and Tineye's Reverse Image Search tool to trace the origins of an image.

Reverse Image Searches allow you to upload/paste an image from your computer and search the web for that specific image or similar images.

Mike Caulfield's free online book 'Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers', guides you step-by-step to find original sources more quickly by incorporating Google's Reverse Image Search.

Check out