All The Tropes:Uploading and Adding an Image to a Page

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

If you're reading this, it's a safe bet you've noticed that a lot of pages here at All The Tropes have pictures on them, and you'd like to add a picture to a page that doesn't. Great! That's the kind of proactive and community-oriented thinking we like to see here on the Wiki. But maybe you're not sure just how to do that. Well, have no fear: what follows is a step-by-step guide to the process.

First, we've had some problem with wiki vandals overwriting images in drive-by vandalism, so you have to be a Autoconfirmed or Confirmed Troper in order to upload images now. If you make enough edits (that aren't reverted!) to existing pages, getting into that group is just a matter of time. If a member of the mod team notices that you consistently make high-quality edits, getting into that group can happen faster. So the first step to be able to upload images is to work on other parts of All The Tropes and show that you can be trusted with this right.

(And even then, if you haven't yet been granted Autopatrolled rights, your upload will still go to the Moderation queue for review by the mod staff.)

Select an Image

Now presumably you have an image in mind already. But if you don't that's okay. We have a page here called How to Pick A Good Image which will help you choose something that works. Just make sure that when you add your image to the page it'll be more than Just a Face and a Caption.

Also, All The Tropes prefers using Public Domain and Creative Commons licensed images when they exist. Please use copyrighted images only where there is no other alternative.

Once you've picked something, download it to your computer.

Important Information About the Image

We're presuming that you've used Google or another tool to find a cool pic to upload. That's fine. But after you download that image and before you leave the site where you found it, you need to make a quick note of two or three things that you'll need when copying the image to the wiki:

  1. The URL of the original image. This is very important. We've already had at least one catastrophic loss of data since 2012, and as part of that we lost a lot of images. Having the URL where you got the image lets us retrieve a new copy if something like that happens again. Most browsers let you right-click on the image and pick a menu option reading something like "Copy image location" or "Image address".
  2. The URL of the page the image was on at the website where you found it. You can get that right from address bar of your browser. Nothing is permanent on the Web, after all,[1] and this gives us a way to find the image through the Wayback Machine should the website have disappeared by the next time we need to get a copy of it.
  3. Finally (and most importantly, according to our lawyers), the licensing/copyright information for the site where you got the image. This one is "optional"[2] (sort of; you're going to need the licensing information later), not because we're willing to take the fall for you if legal issues raise their hoary heads, but because some sites make it all but impossible to actually find this information. If you can't find it, don't sweat it. But please make the effort. If you're copying the image from Wikipedia, Wikimedia[3], or DeviantArt, the license information is usually right on the image page, and you can easily copy it.

Once you have it, stash this info in a text file -- you're going to need to copy'n'paste it in a later step.

I Created This Image

If you're the original artist or photographer, fantastic and thank you. In that case, you probably already know where your artwork is on the Web, and don't need to make a note of it. You also don't need to make a note of the licensing terms, because you presumably know what license you're going to offer to us already.

Meaningful Image Names

A lot of websites use long strings of letters and numbers for their filenames. We'd rather not have that. Before you upload anything to us, please make sure it has a human-readable name that's somehow relevant to the image's content and/or origins.

Resizing Images

It's often a good idea to resize images before uploading them; making an image anywhere between 350 to 450 pixels wide is usually ideal. Image height is far less critical unless it is much wider than it is tall, in which case you might want to consider a different image or crop the one you have. This isn't essential - you can set a maximum width later by using the thumbnail markup on the wiki page where the file will be displayed - but shrinking a huge image will leave more disk space for other images later. (Moderator tip: If you're running Windows, you can use the freeware program IrfanView to resize images cleanly, and to convert them to JPG or PNG format so that they can be used on the wiki. That software has literally been around for decades and as of 2020 is still being supported. Windows PowerToys also includes an image resizer among its features. And there are also any number of websites that offer image-resizing services.)

In general, though, please don't upload images larger than about 1 MB, or measuring larger than 1500 pixels on their longest axis. Large images start running into practical and software issues, in addition to taking up far more disk space than they need to. The wiki software cannot do anything with images larger than 12.5 megapixels other than just display them -- thumbnailing simply won't work. Plus, there's no rational reason for having an image that large on the wiki -- it would be so large that it would effectively blank out a page. Over-sized images may be deleted or resized at the discretion of the admin staff.

Uploading the Image to the Wiki

Uploading an image is a simple process. Over in the menu along the left edge of every page in most skins, there is a link reading "Upload file". (It's actually there twice, once at the top, the sixth item, and once more down under the "Tools" submenu at the bottom.) Click it and it will take you to a page where you can pick the file you want to upload on your computer, add a description, pick a license type, and add categories.

Let's go over these in a little more detail.

Source File

In a separate bordered area you will see a button marked "Choose File". Click that and with the file open dialogue that appears navigate to and select the image you want to upload.

File Description

Here's where you get busy.

Destination filename

This will be automatically populated when you select your file. This is your last chance to change the name to something human-readable if you left it as something like "ZZ8762346222A.JPG" or if we already have a file with the same name -- you can revise the destination name as you see fit.

Here's an example: the filename in the "Direct file link" URL is 47 characters of alphabet soup, while the filename we gave the file when it was uploaded here is 17 characters and human-readable.

Oh, and please don't give the file an entire sentence as a name; that's just ridiculously unwieldy. (Don't laugh, we inherited a few files with names like that from TVT, and we're trying to clean them up as we find them.) Anything over 50 characters is too long, and we'd rather see file names that are 25 characters or shorter. (Not counting the extension, of course.)


Probably the second most important area to fill out. Those two URLs we asked you to stash earlier? Put them here, with enough text to make it clear which is which. If the image is or came from a work, mention that. If you know or have a pretty good idea who the actual owner of the image is, put it here. (It's okay to be uncertain, as long as you make a good faith effort in trying to identify the owner. If you aren't sure, just say that you're not sure, please.) Add anything else about the image that you think might be useful, important or simply of interest to another wiki reader.

Here's a good example. Here's another.


Tucked under a block of blue-tinted buttons which insert boilerplate markup into the Summary box, you will find a drop-down list labeled "Licensing". It defaults to "None selected".

This is the most important control on the page other than the "Choose File" button. You must select a license when uploading an image. This is a legal requirement for the wiki, and repeatedly uploading files without choosing Licensing for them will get you tempbanned.

Now that we've scared the crap out of you, let's just tell you it's not that hard. Here's what you do:

  • If you're the original artist or photographer, thank you again, and select "I created this image myself." Then tell us in the summary what license terms you're offering to us. This also applies to images you created by combining and editing other images to a sufficient degree that they become a derivative work, like this one or this one.
    • If you got the image from the original artist and they gave you permission to use it on the wiki, choose the very last option, "This file is copyrighted, but use is permitted by the copyright holder". Don't forget to list in the summary box whatever license terms they specified, if any.
  • If you have the license information from the website where you got the image, scroll through and pick the entry that matches it. If you can't find anything that looks right, don't panic.
  • If you got the image off Wikipedia or Wikimedia,[3] pick that option -- and you'll need to go back to the image's page and get the license terms explicitly given there if you didn't already get it all earlier. Copy them into the Summary field, along with the tag {{fairuse}} for files that are not available under a free license or in the public domain. (Here's an example.)
  • If the image is old enough to no longer be under copyright -- which is probably older than you think, because US copyright terms start at 70 years these days -- or the original creator explicitly gave up his copyright, choose "Public Domain".
  • If nothing matches the information you got from the original website, or you found nothing at all, pick the first option, "This will be used in a way that qualifies as fair use under US law.", also simply just called "Fair Use". This option is almost always safe to use if you have no other information at hand, but it requires that the wiki use the image on a page somewhere. If an image is marked "Fair Use" but isn't used, it will probably be deleted by an administrator sooner or later.

If you forgot to specify a license for the file when you uploaded it, you can add the license information by editing the description page - there's no need to re-upload the image. However, you need to know the template that matches the license - we have a list here.


This one is right below the licensing drop-down list and looks like this:

Categories (+)

Click the plus sign, and type a category name into the edit box that appears. It's got a progressive search built in, and will offer you categories that match what you have started to type. It won't offer you a category that doesn't exist, but it will allow you to enter one

You are required to add at least one of the following categories to every image you're uploading:

  • If you're uploading the image for use on a work page, put the name of the work here.
  • If the image is going onto a creator page, put the creator's name here.
  • If it's going on a trope page, put the trope name here.
  • If it's going on a trope page and you know the work that the image came from, put the trope name here, click the plus sign again, and put the name of the work there. (Thus, the names go into two boxes, one for each name, and the page gets two categories.)

You can add more, if they're relevant. You don't have to, though.

  • If it's a still from a movie or television series and you recognize the actor(s), go ahead and put their names in as categories - one input box for each name. If you don't recognize the actor(s), no worries.
  • If it's a poster for a movie - not a DVD case image, but an actual theatrical poster - please add the category "Lobby Card".

Finishing the Upload

Once you've picked your file and filled in all the blanks, hit the "Upload file" button at the very bottom of the page. In a few seconds your file will be up on the wiki, and you'll see a new page displaying it with the information you entered. The top of that page will have a banner that reads something like "File:Name of Your Uploaded File.jpg". Highlight that and copy it.

Adding the Image to the Page

Compared to what you just went through, this part is easy. Go to the page where you want that image to appear and edit it. Insert a blank line where you want the image to go -- for basically any page, the first image is always at the top, and goes on the second line, under the page type markup and before the page quote (if the page has a quote) and the description text. (Unless the page has an infobox, in which case, see "If the page has an infobox" below.) If there's a {{Needs Image}} template on the page, delete it and put your image there. (On a Characters subpage, an image of a character goes just below the header that names the character, and above the character description and trope list.) Type two left square brackets, and then paste in the filename you just copied from the page you came from. The line will look like

[[File:Name of Your Uploaded File.jpg

If your image is small enough -- no larger than 400-500 pixels horizontally -- you can then finish the markup like this:

[[File:Name of Your Uploaded File.jpg|frame]]

That's a vertical bar, the word "frame" and two right square brackets. "frame" puts a border around the image and positions it flush against the right edge of the page, which is where we want page images to be.

Thumbnailing the Image

If it's bigger than 400-500 pixels horizontally, you're going to want to shrink it. It's a vector image (SVG format or something else) that needs to be scaled, you'll have to set the image width. There are a couple ways of doing this; we suggest you use this markup unless there's a reason not to:

[[File:Name of Your Uploaded File.jpg|thumb|400px]]

Vertical bar, the word "thumb", another vertical bar, "400px", and two right square brackets. This means "put a thumbnail image 400 pixels wide inside a frame and make it flush against the right edge of the page". If that looks too big to you, feel free to use a smaller number; 350px or 300px are both good compromises between size and viewability.


It's possible to link the image directly to another page, so that clicking on it takes you there. To do so, add "|link=Page Name" to the image markup -- that's a vertical bar, the word "link", an equals sign, and the name of the page. Like so:

[[File:Name of Your Uploaded File.jpg|thumb|400px|link=Page Name]]

This is good practice, though not required, if you know the work the image comes from and that work has a page here - or, if it's a photo of a real person, you know who the person is and we have a creator or Useful Notes page for that person. (Although it's pretty obviously unnecessary if the image is on the work's or creator's page.)


If you want to add a caption to the image, that's simply done by adding yet another vertical bar followed by the text of the caption before the two closing square brackets. You can mark up the caption pretty much any way you want, including links to other pages, using the usual Wiki syntax. You can even add HTML line break tags (<br/>) if you really need to.

Close the file markup

If you haven't already added two right square brackets to the end of the line, do that now.

Markup for an image with every last feature we've talked about here would look like this:

[[File:Name of Your Uploaded File.jpg|thumb|400px|link=Page Name|This is a ''caption'' -- with a link to [[Another Page]] in it.]]

Of course you don't have to use all of these, in case we haven't made it clear, but it's better to know how, right?

If the page has an infobox

As of mid-2023, only characters, Literature and Episode recap pages have infoboxes, and their use is not mandatory. If there's already one on the page, or if you're adding one, here's how to add an image to the infobox.

You'll see a line "image = " in the infobox. Put the name of the image on that line, after the equals sign, but do not include the "File:" part of the name. The infobox will do all the hard work of resizing and positioning the image for you.

If you want to add a caption to the image, add it to the "caption = " line in the infobox.

Finishing Up

At this point, all you have left to do is save the page -- after noting in the edit reason that you've added a page image -- and you're done.

My New Image Replaced One That Was Already There

We usually prefer that image replacements get discussed and agreed upon before they're made. (On occasion, a mod will replace an image without asking first, but that's done only to protect the wiki or when we already have duplicate files and we're using one copy everywhere. Don't laugh - we had at least three copies of the famous "Dewey defeats Truman" photo at one time.) But if we had that discussion and the consensus was to replace the image, no worries.

If the image you replaced isn't used by any other pages, please put a {{delete}} template on it so the wiki staff is alerted and can deal with it. Many of our images are licensed under "fair use", which requires use. If the image is no longer used anywhere on the wiki, we are legally required to delete it.

  1. Which is why we don't simply let people use images hosted on sites other than Wikimedia Commons on this site.
  2. It's optional in that the software will let you upload a file without it, but wiki policy says it's required for legal reasons.
  3. 3.0 3.1 All The Tropes has the ability to reach directly into Wikimedia Commons, so you don't need to download an image from that site and upload it to this one. Just pretend you already downloaded and uploaded the file, and go straight to "Adding the Image to the Page" in order to use the file.