A Wikimedia Foundation brochure in PDF form that introduces newcomers to Wikimedia Commons and how they can contribute to it

Uploading images to Wikipedia is a matter of:

If you want to upload multiple images using the New wizard, use Commons:Special:UploadWizard.

Unfortunately, large numbers of images are removed from Wikipedia within hours or days of being uploaded due to inappropriate, insufficient or inaccurate copyright information. By diligently completing the above steps, you can save yourself and others a great deal of time and ensure that whatever you upload will remain a part of Wikipedia's knowledge base.

Here is a brief synopsis of the image requirements:

Allowed copyright statuses include (in descending order of desirability):

If you upload a file with a "fair use" designation, be sure to rely on competent copyright law authority; if there is any question about its status, you will have to defend its inclusion on Wikipedia. Images that fail to meet the fair use criteria will be promptly removed.

Don't take removal of an image personally. Wikipedia serves the widest of audiences and as such must be exemplary in its handling of sensitive things like imagery of living persons. In addition to relying upon competent authority regarding copyright status, we recommend relying upon common sense when considering whether an image of a living person might be considered offensive.

Before uploading images at Wikipedia:File Upload Wizard, make sure you read and follow the image use policy. Most images you might find on the Internet are copyrighted and not appropriate for uploading to Wikipedia. If you did not create the image, or if you are unable or unwilling to verify its copyright status, do not upload the image. Images whose owners have stipulated they be used for non-commercial purposes only are not allowed. For hints on how to find images appropriate for uploading, see the finding images tutorial. It might also be helpful to read Wikipedia:Preparing images for upload.

Steps in uploading a new image

Determine copyright status

For uploads to the English Wikipedia, you must first find out whether the image is legal in the United States (where the Wikipedia servers are located). Because of copyright treaties, this may additionally require you to verify the image's copyright in its source country. (A comprehensive explanation of this is at Wikipedia:Non-U.S. copyrights, and simple charts of copyright duration can be found at Wikipedia:Copyright situations by country and Commons:Licensing.) For your own protection, you should also consider whether your own country's copyright laws impose any requirements on you, the uploader.

Next, determine which Image copyright tag is applicable for your image file.

Copyrighted images with no license

If the image has not been released (to your knowledge) under a license and is still under copyright, you must gain permission to use the image from the copyright holder.

You can try the standard form at Wikipedia:Declaration of consent for all enquiries to attempt to gain that permission (and if successful, tag the image with ((Permission pending)) when the upload procedure is completed).

Alternatively, you can ask the copyright holder to post a notice on the website where the image originated[Note 1] stating that it is released under an appropriate free license (such as these; CC BY-SA 4.0 is simplest, because Wikipedia's text already uses that license).

Free license and public domain images

If, after looking over the Wikipedia:Copyright and Image copyright tags pages, you determine that the image is public domain or other free license (e.g. Creative Commons), then you may upload it to Wikimedia Commons. This is a shared repository for images and other media files. Images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons can easily be used here on English Wikipedia as well as by other language Wikipedias and Sister projects (the [[File:]] tag will find Wikimedia Commons images as if they were stored on Wikipedia). Another advantage of Wikimedia Commons is its category system that helps to organize and make images easy to find. An important caveat to Wikimedia Commons is that they do not accept fair use images.

See First steps/Upload form for further instructions on uploading to Commons. More general help can be found at Wikimedia Commons Help.

Fair use images

Main page: Wikipedia:Non-free content

If the image you wish to upload is not under a free license, but meets all of Wikipedia's fair use criteria, then you are permitted to upload it directly into the English Wikipedia with a fair use rationale. Keep in mind that it is not permitted to upload fair use images into Wikimedia Commons, but it is permitted to do so into English Wikipedia. In addition to fair use images, it is possible to upload any image directly to Wikipedia; though, doing so lacks some advantages of Commons.

Procedure to upload

Only logged in users with autoconfirmed accounts can upload images (meaning that the account must be at least four days old, and the user must have made at least ten edits). If you do not have an account, or you have not been autoconfirmed yet, please see Wikipedia:Files for upload.

You can upload an image by using the Upload file link on the left side of the main page under the heading 'Contribute' (which is a link to Special:Upload). On most browsers, you will see a "Browse..." button, which will bring up your operating system's standard file open dialog. Choosing a file will fill the name of that file into the text field next to the button. You must also check the box affirming that you are not violating any copyrights by uploading the file. Press the "Upload" button to finish the upload.

Note that some licenses, such as the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License v. 2.5, require that licensees attribute the work as specified by the copyright holder. After uploading, you may need to manually edit the "Licensing" section. For this example, you would add the correct attribution as a parameter to the ((Cc-by-sa-2.5)) template, which would then appear as ((Cc-by-sa-2.5|Attribution)).

File formats

Certain file formats are not accepted on Wikimedia Projects, and may need to be converted to a supported free format prior to uploading. Additionally, some file types produce better results than others. For more information on preferred file formats accepted for sound, video and image files at Wikimedia Commons, see Commons:File types.


Some filenames (such as highly generic filenames produced automatically by digital cameras) are disallowed, and attempting to use them will generate an error message.[Note 2]

Examples of good file names:

"City of London skyline from London City Hall - Oct 2008.jpg"
"KDE Kicker config screenshot.png"
"1863 Meeting of Settlers and Maoris at Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.jpg"
"Polyhedron with no vertex visible from center.png"
"The Consecration Of King Sinhala-Prince Vijaya (Detail From The Ajanta Mural Of Cave No 17).jpg"
"Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984).jpg"

Examples of bad file names:


For more information, please see Wikipedia:Image file names.

Find previously uploaded images

Please note that as with wiki pages, others may edit or delete your uploads if they think it serves the encyclopedia, and you may be blocked from uploading if you abuse the system.

Reupload existing image

To reupload an existing image, for example an infographic based on older data, go to that image file description page and find the link that says "upload a new version of this file", which opens a wizard to upload the new version. Describe only the changes that you have made to the file, as the general description of the file (including licensing, etc.) will remain from before. The new version will now automatically be accessed by the pages that link to the file, but will keep the old version in the "File History" section of the file description page.

If you cannot find the link to "upload a new version of this file" it's possible that you are not looking at the original source page of the file. It is common for files to be hosted at the Wikimedia Commons, even though they have an English Wikipedia info page in which case you'll have to find the file there (a notice should be provided that the file is hosted on Wikimedia Commons and will link to the file's "description page there") where you can reupload the file. Changes to the Wikimedia Commons version of the file will be seen in all Wikipedia references as well.

After reuploading an image to the same image name you often need to bypass your browser cache to see the new image. This also fixes the oddity that the new image might show on the image page, but with the old image size. Sometimes after uploading a new version of an image the thumbnails in articles still show the old image even if you have bypassed your browser cache (which is especially ugly if the new image is of a different size). Then you need to purge the image page. See Wikipedia:Purge#For images for how to do that.

Adding images to articles

The procedure for adding images to articles is the same, regardless of whether the image was uploaded to Commons or directly to English Wikipedia. To make your uploaded file appear in an article, you need to insert it: edit the article and add the syntax

[[File:Image name|thumb|Caption]]

where you want the file to appear.

Important: Image names are case-sensitive. For example, if an image is called Picture.jpg then neither picture.jpg nor Picture.JPG will find it.

See Help:Visual file markup for further instructions.

Technical aspects

Main page: Wikipedia:Image use policy § Format

The preferred formats are JPEG for photographic images, SVG for drawings and line-art illustration, PNG for non-vector graphic iconic images, Ogg Vorbis for sound and Ogg Theora for video. Please name your files descriptively to avoid confusion (see below). To include the image in an article, use a link in the form [[File:filename.jpg]] or [[File:filename.png|alt text]] or [[File:filename.ogg]] for sounds. To include an image as a thumbnail, use [[File:filename.jpg|thumb|Caption]].

Mini how-to

The Upload File Screen, which you will find at Special:Upload, has three fields:

File description page's Summary mark-up text

Here is an example Summary (including explanations of the Template:Information parameters) that you can copy and paste when you upload the file or refer to when you edit any file Summary that needs correction:

|Description = What can you see/hear?
|Source = self-made or URL, if existent name of institution and such things as catalog numbers or similar
|Date = date image was created and/or released; to avoid misunderstandings with different date formats, spell out the month (e.g. created 2. Oct. 1999), use ISO 8601 notation (e.g. 1999-10-02), or for new self-made works, use ~~~~~ (5 tildes) to insert the current date
|Author = first and last name of the author (in case of self-made works additionally ~~~ ) and/or the name of the institution
|Permission = Short quote of the permission of the copyright owner (if too long shortened with link to long version).
|other_versions = Wiki link to other versions if they exist within the Wikimedia Commons (e.g. a black and white version of a color image)

As for the description of the content, if it’s an artwork, provide brief historical background; in case of scientific data, a brief scientific abstract of the file. If you have detailed information about the image, for example the name of the species or the size of the object, please add it.

If you create images to upload that need to show the size of a depicted object, images with a ruler are better than images with a coin or similar item, since not everyone has access to the same type of item.

Submitting the information

After entering the information, submitting it will upload the image and save the summary. There is no preview, as there is for editing articles. Nevertheless, the Sandbox or a user page can be used to view and edit summaries before the image is uploaded, and after uploading, you can still click the edit button and make changes to the summary and the license, if you have made a mistake.

If there is already a file that was uploaded with the Destination Filename you chose, then you are given the options to save anyway and overwrite the old file (although it will remain in the image history) or returning to the upload form and entering a different filename.


For examples on how to upload images and use this template look at the following images:

Multiproject upload

Main page: Wikipedia:Moving images to Commons

The Wikipedia logo, with a big blue arrow leading to the Wikimedia Commons logo

Although it is possible to use one image within several Wikipedia articles (of the same Wikimedia project), it is not possible to use an image uploaded to one Wikimedia project (both sister projects like Wikisource and other language Wikipedias) in another one without re-uploading it in each of these projects. For this reason, all free images should be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, where they will immediately be accessible from all Wikimedia projects. Note that Commons only accepts free images (public domain or licensed under a free license). If the image is fair use, you can't upload it to Commons, so it will have to be uploaded separately to every project that uses it.[Note 3] To upload the image existing on Wikipedia to another project you will need to download the image to your own computer (often right clicking on it will give you this option), and then re-upload that to the place you want the image to be copied to. Interlanguage links can be added between the two.

If this is too confusing, just tag it with ((Copy to Wikimedia Commons)). This adds a notice saying "This is a candidate to be copied to the Wikimedia Commons" to the page; then someone will move it for you and remove the tag. This category has a significant backlog though, so it may be better just to move it yourself.

See also


  1. ^ It must be clear that the notice was posted by the copyright owner, so sites that are clearly professional in nature are more likely to be accepted as proof of license. Simply hosting content yourself with a false declaration is not acceptable, and may result in Wikipedia community sanctions against you, in addition to personal liability.
  2. ^ See Wikipedia:Image file names#Disallowed image names for how to disallow filenames.
  3. ^ Some Wikipedias, most notably the German Wikipedia, do not permit fair use content either. You should verify the local policy before uploading to other Wikimedia sites.