Pictures worth 1,000 words
The most memorable elements of a web page are often the graphics. In order to use graphics on your page, you must consider how to acquire them and also understand the file formats and limitations dictated by the web.
There are a number of ways to acquire graphics for your page. You can create them yourself, scan them, or buy commercial clipart. You can also copy graphics from other web pages, but this should be done only if you have permission, since most graphics on the web are under copyright protection.
I. Finding the format
Before you embark on selecting graphics for your page, it's important to first understand the types of files the web will accept. While graphic files are available in different file formats, the two formats used on the web are JPEG (.jpg) and GIF (.gif). GIF files will load faster on a web page than JPEG files, but JPEG files produce sharper images.
If you have images that are not in JPEG or GIF format, you may be able to convert them. In the desktop publishing program PageMaker, for example, you can click on the graphic to select it and then go under the File menu, highlight Export, and select the format.
Adobe Photoshop is another program that allows you to convert and edit graphics. Students can use Photoshop in various campus computer labs. Faculty can use Photoshop in the Instructional Support Centers.
You can also search the web for public domain or shareware programs that will allow you to edit and convert graphics into JPEG or GIF format. Two popular sites that you might browse are CNET's DOWNLOAD.COM and TUCOWS.COM. Search these sites for the word "convert" or look under image editors.
In addition to the format of the graphic file, you should consider the size of the file. Try to use files that are no larger than 30 Kilobytes (KB). Larger files can be slow to fully appear on the screen.
II. Getting the graphics
There are a number of ways that you can acquire graphics. If you are artistic, you can use a drawing program to create them. If possible, make sure to save the file in GIF or JPEG format.
If drawing is not in your skill set, but you have images, such as photographs, you can use a scanner to copy the images into the computer and save them as GIF or JPEG files. Make sure that the resolution is no higher than 72dpi (dots per inch). A computer screen cannot produce images higher than 72dpi, so a higher resolution will not improve visual quality, but only increase the size of the file.
Scanners are available in some campus computer labs. Faculty can use scanners in the Instructional Support Centers.
When scanning, however, be careful about your choice of images. While it's okay to use your own photographs, you should not scan images from magazines, newspapers, or books unless you have permission. Also, you cannot use corporate images or logos, such as Disney or Star Trek characters, because they are registered trademarks.
Finally, you can also find web sites that offer web graphics. Search the web for "public domain graphics" (with quotation marks) to find them. To copy a graphic from one of these sites using a PC, right-click on the graphic and highlight Save this Image as... to save it on your computer. On the Mac, click and hold down the mouse button on the graphic and select Save this Image as... to save it.
III. Incorporating the code
Once you have the graphics, you can place them on your page with a few simple commands.
For example, you can center a graphic on a page with the following command:
<P Align=Center> <IMG SRC="filename" ALT="description of graphic">
Note the use of the Alt command in the coding. The description you include will appear when you place the mouse over the graphic on the page. It is especially important to include this information for readers with disabilities who must rely on text-to-speech software for accessing web pages.
You can also use one of the following commands to place the graphic to the left or right of text.
<IMG SRC="filename" ALT="description of
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