Adding an Image to Your Paper

Sometimes, students will have the urge to stick an illustration, a graphic or chart into their paper.  It certainly helps you stand out—a visual aid will certainly pop to a teacher who’s wading through a huge stack of text.  When chosen properly, a graphic can help add context and help support your papers.

If you’re thinking about adding a graphic to your paper, there are some important things to keep in mind.

First of all, don’t use it to cheat!  If your professor says a paper needs to be four pages long, don’t try to cheat them by padding your paper out with pictures; they’ll notice.  I once had a student hand in a four-page paper to me…with two pages of bar graphs in the middle.  They were excellent graphs, meaningful and on point, but there just wasn’t enough text to satisfy the assignment.  They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but that’s not true when it comes to your paper’s word count.

Secondly, your graphic should add to and supplement your text, and not merely be decorative.  If you’re running through a bunch of statistical data, a chart displaying that data visually can help your reader better grasp what you’re trying to say.  If the visual of something is important to your point, a quick picture can help the reader more than a long-winded description does.  However, if you’re writing something on, say, Jane Austen, a picture of Jane Austen is unlikely to really give your reader anything useful.  Similarly, if you’re mentioning a statistic off-hand—say, “40% of all statistics are made up”—then you don’t need a pie chart graphing that out for your reader; it doesn’t say anything more than your sentence does.

Also, remember that if you’re using someone else’s picture—a useful infographic from the web, for example, or a photo someone else has taken—you have to cite and give credit just like you would have to do for a quote from a book.  Anytime you use content you didn’t create, you have to credit the original creator.  This goes extra if you’re submitting something for any sort of publication; you’ll need explicit permission, either from a creative commons license or by specifically asking the creator, to use it commercially.  Be careful about that sort of thing!

If you want to make sure your image really works in your paper, submit it to our editors here at Wordsmith Essays.  We don’t just correct grammar; we go through and give positive and helpful pieces of advice to help you improve the quality of your paper.  Stop by our order page today!


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