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Visual Literacy: Image Anatomy 101

Provides information on citing images, copyright, presentation best practices, design guidelines, and more

Learn the Jargon

This page explains these terms used when working with digital images:


Pixel is short for "Picture Element," each of the minute, individual elements of a digital image or display.

Pixels vary in form and function depending on the type of display device.


Dead Pixel by Simon Wicks (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Resolution - the degree of sharpness of a computer-generated image measured by the number of dots per inch in a printed image or the number of pixels across and down on a display screen.

Higher Resolution:

Medium Resolution

Lower Resolution

Flowering Spurge by cotini (CC BY-NC-SA)

File Size

File Size is the amount of data in an image file, usually measured in "kilobytes" (KB), "megabytes" (MB), etc.


Compression - reduction of a file's size by changing its format.

Low Compression:

More Compression:

Highly Compressed:

Sealion by Todd Ryburn (CC BY 2.0)

File Format

File Format - standardized means of storing and viewing images on computers.  Each format uses a different compression scheme.