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NCI Digital Media Guidelines

  • Updated: 09/10/2013


The guidelines on this page apply specifically to the main NCI website ( Owners of NCI component sites may wish to consider these for use on their own sites.

Images can be a powerful and direct means of communicating ideas and feelings about an organization and can create a personal connection with an audience. Imagery used for the main NCI website has been selected to give a consistent look throughout the site. Here are some recommended attributes for NCI website imagery.

  • Use realistic or natural portraits of people interacting as everyday individuals; avoid images that look overly staged or set up.
  • Represent NCI’s major audiences: patients, health professionals, and researchers.
  • Be positive and encouraging in tone when possible.
  • Use cropping to focus on the idea or feeling and not specific contents.
  • Use images that are bright and colorful, with a good amount of white or clarity.

Example of images

Content-Specific Images: Size and Placement

Standard size and placement of images should be used for overall site consistency. The following general guidelines should be observed:

  • The width for a smaller size image is 190 pixels – roughly one-third of the main content area’s total width of 571 pixels. The height should be proportional and complementary to the existing content and layout of the page.
  • When using a larger image, the width should be no more than two-thirds of the main content area width of 571 pixels – roughly 380 pixels. Again, the height of the image should be proportional and complementary.
  • Text in the main content area should wrap around images.
  • Each image should allow for padding on either the left or right, depending on placement within the layout. When text wraps around the image, 20 pixels should be allowed between the image and the text to allow for proper spacing.

Use of Images

NCI Visuals Online contains images from the collections of the Office of Communications and Education and the Office of Media Relations, National Cancer Institute. Contents include general biomedical and science-related images, cancer-specific scientific and patient care-related images, and portraits of directors and staff of the National Cancer Institute.

NOTE: NCI staff may see a larger selection of potential images by clicking on the “staff” link in the Visuals Online page footer. If you reuse an image, make sure it’s in the public domain. If an image is copyright protected, you will have to contact the rights holder to obtain reuse permission. Contact information for reuse is posted on the details page for each copyrighted image in NCI Visuals Online.

To contact NCI staff about Visuals Online, please send an e-mail to or call 301-594-9527.

For more information, see NCI’s “Copyright and Reuse of Graphics and Text” website policy.