I’m Writing a Book. Is It Okay to Use Clipart in My Book?

We know it can be difficult to decide if clipart is appropriate for a book cover or ebook but we’re here to help! To answer this question, let’s break down what exactly clipart is and how it’s used. Clipart consists of illustrations that are typically found in Microsoft products such as Word or PowerPoint. It usually includes pre-drawn graphics and diagrams like circles, squares, flowers, arrows and also images.

Is it okay to use clipart in my book (or other images found online)?

There are many creative ways to get your message across, and using pictures or graphics is one of them. It’s not uncommon for authors to include a few images throughout their work as they make their points, but what about if you want an image on the cover of your book?

Are you allowed to use clipart on the cover of your paperback or ebook?

Many people don’t know that you can purchase or use rights-free images to use in your book and on your book cover.

Using clipart in your book

If you plan on using clipart in your book, it’s important to know that there are two ways you can go about doing this. One way is by using a royalty-free image on the cover of your paperback or ebook. The other way is to use clipart in the interior of your book as illustrations and for chapter headings.

However, most clipart you might come across online has been used illegally and you should never use images you obtain or come across online, as they are not royalty-free. It is only safe to do so, if you have received permission from the original designer.

The clipart found in Microsoft Word, is royalty-free, and if you have Microsoft Word installed on your computer it is likely that there are some clipart options available to you. However, the quality of the clipart found in Microsoft word is generally not suitable for printing. You will want to use clipart or images of 300dpi quality as a minimum.

If you want to use a royalty-free image for the cover of your book, then make sure that the images are in the public domain or have been purchased from a company like Dreamstime.

What are the best clipart sites?

  • Canva

    Canva.com provides a large number of stock images and is also useful for creating your own artwork using templates and tools like the color wheel, text boxes, shapes, etc.

  • Dreamstime –

    Dreamstime is another good option as they have royalty-free photos at various price points that can be purchased by credit card or PayPal.

  • Pixabay –

    Pixabay offers both photos and illustrations that are free to use. The photo or illustration can be uploaded and then cropped as needed before downloading it in the desired format.

  • Foter –

    Foter is a good option for public domain images from Wikimedia Commons, plus they also have illustrations and vector graphics that are free to use.

  • Vecteezy –

Vecteezy is full of illustrations and graphics. Many are free to use as long as you credit the illustrator (the exact usage rights will be detailed on each document).

Additionally, you can purchase a membership and have access to their entire library of art. If you purchase a pro membership you will not need to credit the designer and can use the images to illustrate an entire book if you wish.

Is it safe to use clipart in my book?

From a legal standpoint, always make sure you understand the copyright laws of your country. The general rule is that artwork is copyrighted and you can’t use it without permission. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:

Public Domain- Any image created before 1923 is public domain.

Creative Commons- Certain licenses allow for attribution and use of an image with certain restrictions. It will usually say “Attribution Required” or “NonCommercial.”

Fair Use- Images used under fair use guidelines don’t require a license but the guidelines vary depending on what type of work it is being used for.

How do I know if an image is public domain?

Public domain content typically includes content that has expired copyright protection or was never subject to copyright law. To be sure, you can search for the image on Google and see if it’s attributed to anyone. If not, it is likely public domain. But you will need to double check as it has to belong to somebody .

A free alternative to Google Images is the Online Art Archive, which has an extensive database of public domain artwork. You can also find purchasable clipart at Etsy or in stock photography libraries like iStockphoto.com or Getty Images.

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