Should inline images be recommended?

+30 votes
Hi WikiTreers,
Over the past year or two, some leading members started experimenting with "inline" images, i.e. images inside the biography of a profile.
This has seemed like a generally good idea.
Some months ago we went ahead and added copy-and-paste code to image pages to make it easier. But then a couple days ago we removed the code, pending this discussion. Having the code essentially means we're officially recommending doing inline images. We don't generally recommend things as the style or standard without carefully discussing them here and considering the pros and cons.
What are the pros? The obvious one is that it can look good. It's also possible that Google might like it, i.e. they might see the profile as a richer page that's more worthy of ranking in search results. But that's a small issue. What are other pros?
What are cons? One potential problem that I realized the other day: Encouraging inline images is encouraging creative design.
How, you may ask, can creative design be a bad thing? Why wouldn't we want to encourage members to be creative with the appearance of profiles? It can certainly produce good results.
There are technical problems that emerged in the long, painful discussions on CSS and HTML. But we could make coding mistakes unlikely with clear instructions and copy-and-paste code.
The larger problem is that there's a tension between design creativity and content collaboration.
Creative design isn't really something that you can work with others on. Beauty is in the eye of beholder. Trying to collaborate on creativity opens up a realm for disagreements that can't easily be resolved. Again, this came up in the CSS and HTML discussions.
WikiTree was designed for collaboration, not as a hosting service.
WikiTree exists so that genealogists can work together to grow a single family tree. Our primary challenge is putting together the content with careful sourcing. Design is secondary, at best.
If creatively designing profiles distracts our community from its core mission, that's a problem.
Some content formatting is necessary. Members need to create footnotes, make text italicized or bold, do subheaders, lists, blockquotes, etc. This is necessary to make the content clearer and more readable.
Do inline images support the text in the same way as these other formatting things? Or are they mostly about making a profile pretty?
in Policy and Style by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

just a note - don't have the only posting of an image be inline... the file will be deleted. Chris, I forget the specifics, but I had uploaded some images & then "unlinked" them from everything, just having the inline links. Because they weren't being used by a profile or space page, WikiTree thought they weren't needed & deleted them.  Cheers, Liz

P.S. I like being able to use inline images. (The one I remembered losing was the map image imbedded in the Locations section on

WikiTree is very popular, and there is quite alot of contributors that have so many documents on any one profile. It takes patience to view them all. Allowing at least a thumbnail within a Bio allows viewers to see what is available. WikiTree is a Premier site and members just need to have the Markups to make  the profiles they submit make Wikitree the best. Everyone has to understand what they can do
Hi Chris,

A pro for me is that I use an inline photo as a source. When I research and find that someone was married in an old church I go there and visit and take some pictures. Same way with a cemetery, gravestones are a great source. I try to arrange my photos in a cereative way but that is secondary to me, my prime use is to show something that pertains to the profile.

The main problem I see with wikitree is that there aren't enough sources or I can't see the source material. I link pictures of the original census as well as transcription of the census. I rescently added a picture of a poster on that picture shows what was happening at that time and the viewer can draw their own interpretation of it.

I never used code until I used wikitree. I am a novice at best and I love pictures and would miss  them if they are gone.

I agree, the inline images can be very useful and make a page more interesting to view--I'd even consider it a means of possibly encouraging more folks to join in on wikitree, rather than a source of 'issues'.   In many instances, particularly when you have a large number of images added to a person, allowing inline images adds to the ability for those looking at the page to more easily follow the documents used to source the bio/data for a wikitree profile page--it serves as a form of fluidly integrating documentation.  I've really enjoyed using this method on my ancestor Thomas Franklin to help create a nice flowing bio "story" for his lifetime.  laugh


Very nicely done Lisa!  Thomas Franklin's profile is attractive, informative, and well-sourced!

Thx Liz..It may take me some time, but I hope to someday have ALL my mainline ancestors full documentation uploaded.  I've got over 30 years of research and I keep getting msgs from folks who find me on wikitree and want their branch I end up stopping what I'm working on and getting 'sidetracked' onto another branch!  LOL
THANK YOU!!! Gotta go find my unlink images. Eek! -P Rich
If we do allow inline images we need to be very clear that they must not be copyrighted because some have posted images obtained from online services like and The License and Restrictions section states in part "You may not post content from this site on another website or on a computer network without our permission."
what dale said.

Yes!  i absolutely think they should be encouraged!!   Isn't a picture worth a thousand words!!

They add so much understanding and insight and they make the article far more interesting!

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but there can be a lot of agreement among beholders as anyone familiar with art museums and their contents knows.

Please encourage images within bios!!!




I uploaded an image but it was the wrong one.  It is the SECOND image, I cannot remove it, no matter what.  Can you check and find out why?  I think it has something to do with a Red Privacy and that I used "source".  I tried to change all tht but it remains.  It does not belong there . . . . After it is gone, I have one other to upload.  I want to make them "inline" but looks like this is frowned upon, it would make it easier to understand a document I've transcribed.  It isn't necessary tho.  I need some advice.  Thank!


I cannot make it primary nor can I see a Remove.  THe photo is now gone but there is still the small thumbnail on the main page.  When does that go away?


I don't see it there now, nor do I see a problem with removing either or both of the two remaining images.  Let me know if you still have a problem.  

Thanks for looking Patricia.  The thumbnail disappeared in the meantime but when I later tried to upload it again, it kept telling me it was already uploaded - even when I changed the title of the original image.  I realized it was telling me to use that original image . . . so OK and it worked. It never did get removed.  Thanks to all who tried to get me up to speed!  They needed to be in line, too confusing to be a primary.  Now only two show on the main page (fine) but all three are in order in the bio.  Thanks again!! Barb

14 Answers

+21 votes

I believe that yes we should allow photos within the bio of a profile.

Also, eliminating them is going to take away something from the Space Pages, that are making good use of pictures to make the page appealing and interesting.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

Hi Anne,

I don't think this question is talking about images in Space Pages - it specifically refers to "images inside the biography of a profile".


Unfortunately, I believe that no distinction is made between what is permitted on space pages and what is permitted on profiles.  My strongest hope is that someone says I am wrong about this, because I strongly feel that space pages (and category pages, for that matter) should include a lot of eye candy.  The Holocaust project decided to use Category pages to present information about each category and subcategory in the project, for two reasons:

  1. It seemed less complicated to simply use the category page, rather than creating a separate space page and putting links back and forth.
  2. The fact that the category pages do not have nearly half of the page space removed by that right column on space and profile pages made it look much more appealing.

Illustrations are critical to imparting the emotional impact of the events to people who view the pages.  At the moment, only the main category page is near completion - please see it at

When you look at it, please note that there is absolutely nothing on that page that was not included in the "recommended" set of codes that resulted from the last blood-letting on this topic.  I admit that it took a huge amount of work to make that happen withing the limitations that had just been imposed on us.  If you click the edit tab, you'll see all the hoops I had to jump through in order to do that. 


The Holocaust category page looks good. Center isn't on the list!? Nor is div unless wrapping an image.

The HTML and Inline CSS page specifically refers to "inside WikiTree profiles". It also has a section "More Creative Freedom on Private and Free-Space Profiles" which says:

Members have somewhat more freedom to express their creativity on Private profiles and Free-Space Profiles.

There are no formatting rules in place that specifically mention formatting category pages that I can find.  Rob Ton remarks upon this in the G2G discussion What is the style rule on HTML and inline CSS?  

A thought just came to me... while we have explicitly said that more creative expression (in terms of using HTML/CSS) is allowed on free-space profiles and Private profiles we have not specifically mentioned category, template, and help pages.

Of course, there's always the chance that a new rule will change that.


The page you're referring to has been changed since the Holocaust Category page was made.  At the time, the div tag was there.  An example of its use was given, which included an img tag within the div, but nowhere did it specify any limitation on what content and/or elements could be wrapped in a div tag.

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "center".  There used to be a center tag in HTML, but in version 3 (which came out around 2000) that tag was deprecated and in version 4 it is no longer supported at all.  The use of the align attribute of a div or span tag, with value of "center", superceded the old center tag.  As a matter of fact, in version 5 of HTML, the align attribute is now deprecated and has been replaced with specification of it within the style attribute, which can be used in many tags.

I can't figure out what "somewhat more freedom" means, specifically, plus for members who need documentation on the use of whatever is included in "somewhat", there is no place on WikiTree where it is provided.

The term "inline css" is a particular thorn in my side.  There is no such thing - the term itself is an oxymoron.  "CSS" is an acronym that means Cascading Style Sheet, which is a separate file in which styles are specified that apply to tags.  The "cascading" part refers to the ability to define different classes for the same tag, depending on what other set of tags they occur within and/or by specifying a class attribute by name within a tag.  A style attribute can be used within a tag to override the formatting inherited from the CSS file.  I apologize if this sounds like gobbledy-gook, but it is a fairly technical concept.  My point is that "inline" and "css" are mutually exclusive, therefore the term "inline css" is gobbledy-gook to me.
+19 votes
There are times when I have taken a screen shot of a pertinent document, etc & would like it in the bio, not off to the side or out of sight if there are more images.
by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
+16 votes

I understand your focus on the data and collaboration. It is the very reason for the site, but I'm not sure that design can be ignored. Give people a freeform area to collect and display information, and they are going to want to give structure to that data. Without clear guidelines on how to structure that data (and even with them) people are going to be get creative.

That the freefrom biography space is intended to be used for most categories of information sets this site apart from most other sites in the space. It would be a shame not to embrace that difference. An attractive profile will do more to draw in a cousin than a very stark listing of information.

I say allow and encourage inline images. Maybe provide a wiki markup or template that would make inlining simpler as well. Cutting and pasting in HTML is, as we know, a source of errors, and leaves maintainability issues.
by Tyler Bindon G2G3 (4.0k points)
+12 votes
When you are listing the pros and cons, isn't the general idea to choose the side that tips the balance?

It would be great to have inline images and artistic flexibility within the profiles at least for those whose artistic talent is better than mine . . . a population group that basically encompasses the planet. That artistic freedom is counter-balanced by the already delicate subject of personal "control" of profiles which shouldn't exist but does.

I'd like it, but I fear it I guess is my opinion. Don't know if that is a helpful response, but it is the best I can phrase.
by John Beardsley G2G6 Mach 3 (37.5k points)
+13 votes

Moving my answer from the other question:

The images  make the bios  more interesting and as I noted below some ancestors are just ordinary folk.

So if we continue adding/ using the images are we wrong?  If we have all the images just on the right side it clutters it up and not everyone can enter in the order necessary which would involve uploading and un-attaching if  not right order and then re-uploading if you want it to make any sense (wouldn't this clutter the system up?)

I cannot write the narratives like the others can.  Small snippets here and there as most my ancestors were just ordinary folks.
I kinda like when it a mix;  narrative at top pertinent images, if you have them where applicable and the vitals  and sources below. 
In that way everyone can find the information they seek. 
There are people with various degrees of how they research genealogy.  
In fact I really don't like when the bio is all narrative and on some you can spend a lot of time reading to find out  that it does not apply to who you are looking for and you have to check the source and  in most cases all it says is what the source is and not any particulars. (example: 1880 census with no hints to where to find the census)
A lot are very interesting reads, but for the case of just researching by genealogist of various levels, it can be frustrating.  I bookmark those I want to read later. 
by Jacqueline Clark G2G6 Pilot (159k points)
+18 votes
To me, the illustrations, photos, and documents within the text enhance the profiles and make reading the biographies more appealing. To use a hackneyed phrase, it's the icing on the cake. The cake is the substantial part that is by far the most important, but the frosting makes it more attractive and adds to the flavor.

It's nice to have a photo or document in the same area as the information that it goes with. If left on the right hand side, the matching illustration may be lower down on the page or even on the next page so it doesn't serve the purpose it's intended to serve as effectively.
Whatever is decided, WikiTree is wonderful. :)
by Debby Black G2G6 Mach 8 (81.0k points)
+10 votes
I only have them in my personal profile and plan to avoid placing them in other profiles until this issue is resolved, but I see very little wrong with placing photos of people or documents inline with the profile as they can add interest to the biography.  Moderation is the key because we do not want the bio's to look like a scrapbook.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+18 votes
+1 for inline images.
by PM Eyestone G2G6 Mach 3 (33.9k points)
+12 votes
I like adding a visual of the information I have added example in point is our first major collabrative profile I enjoyed finding the data that people asked if I had and the even  learnt some new things, I had no Idea that the research I had collected could help in so many ways visually, creatively, but most importantly, informatively,

There were so many photo I could have added, but decided not to, for two reasons 1 it would have either been too long a profile, or cluttered it unnesscessarily, and 2: even though the photo's were in my possession, I had not or could not source them, so I left them out

The cons you asked about are:

1. too much unnessary clutter

2. unsourced images

3. over sized photo

the pros properly done:

1 creativity by a manager or Our fellow collabarators

2. More Interesting profiles which would bring in more members

3. More sourced profiles which would lead to

4. Better informed genealogists

5 Giving others Ideas for their profiles, which in turn would lead to more of 2, 3 and 4

but thats just to $0:02c worth
by Paul Curran G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
edited by Paul Curran
+12 votes
Generally is sounds like a good idea.  But keeping the focus on being well sourced would be my primary concern.  Ideally, will I be able to download it in a GEDCOM.  If not, will I be able to understand it as a source that is verifiable and have it as a useful document?  If not, then it moves towards being pretty, I LIKE pretty especially if it fleshes out the personality of the profile in quesiton.   But I NEED good sources that further my research.
by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (396k points)
Michael, I can not speak for others but I would only use images of source documents with an actual link or at the very least enough information so that others could find the document for them selves. I would hope that this would be made a pert of the final decision. I have found that most sources in any form do not make the transition when using GEDCOM's and that is why I make hard copies of any source documents that I find.
+19 votes

I'll begin with stating that I agree with the seeming majority that inline images should continue being "allowed".

I think, when it comes to profile-relevant photos and images of sources, the "problem" of creative design dispute is largely a non-issue as these images 'belong' with a specific part of the narrative. This is simply part of the collaboration of writing a profile.

I think the "problem" of creative disputes does however become much more likely where non-relevant images are used - The most common example would be the generic images used repeatedly in place of horizontal lines (flowers, geometric shapes, etc.) These sorts of aesthetic touches are much more 'in the eye of the beholder'.

While it is tempting to suggest that only profile-relevant images be allowed (solely for the purpose of reducing the chance of creative disputes) I think that sometimes any image - even if it is non-relevant is needed just to break up a wall of text.

If I really wanted to open a can of worms I would suggest that photos should ONLY be visible in the narrative OR in the photos tab... and that the photos on the right should disappear as they are often, for lack of a better term 'out of context' with the narrative.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (274k points)

Gaile -

I updated the parameter names and changed them on your example Stern-185 - since Bachmann-116 is public I can't change the parameter names on it, so you will see a Canadian Flag displayed where the image should be (my easter egg - when you don't specify a file name it shows a Canadian Flag by default ... I'll probably replace that with a wikitree logo, question mark later, or some other place holder)


That's a very good point about the need to use the Clear template to end wrapping potentially leading to problems if users can't figure out where to put it and/or leave it off.  I will change my recommendation to making the align parameter advanced, with options of "l" and "r" with automatic wrapping if they are used and I would still eliminate the wrap parameter.  My reasoning is that I can't imagine anyone ever wanting to align an image either left or right unless it is for the purpose of wrapping the text.  If the image will stand alone then it seems like centered is the way it belongs.

Another place to simplfy could be to not offer a height option for size - people should be able to adjust the width to produce whatever height looks good, plus if someone tries to specify both width and height, it will either lead to problems or distort the image if they have not carefully preserved the original ratio.

I think most everyone who uses this will be inclined to copy/paste it and then just type the values in.  I do that for the military and migration ones.  It makes it so much clearer what the parameters are when they have names rather than just a single letter.  I have seen many instances of the old <span> tag with style parameters to control display of images that were done incorrectly (which is how I could be so sure they were pasted).  I saw one profile where the parameters float-left and margin-right were used in some instances and float-right and margin-right in others - it seems obvious that the person kept pasting it and only changed the float-left and float-right as needed, remaining blissfully unaware of the relationship of the margin location/

... which leads me to another suggestion - I would really like to see a roster of tech mentors that people could ask to help them when they start using this.  There are plenty of people who want to use inline images.  Some may have difficulty with this at the start and others may be too intimidated to try - a mentor could provide the support to get them up to speed quickly and ensure that they're doing it correctly.
oops - sorry about Bachmann-116 - I'll open it right away, since I referenced it in a code example.  I had it open before - it was a POTW nominee - then made it public just before Christmas because she is my husband's grandmother and I entered his whole family as a surprise Christmas gift to him - I didn't want to leave any of them open so that he could be in control of that.

I'm having trouble making it work on Bachmann-116.  I changed all the letters to words but still see the Canadian flag.  I tried removing the caption parameter, since it wasn't being used, also tried removing the wrap, changing it back to "w", and even leaving it off completely - all results are still the Canadian flag.  I would appreciate it if you could take a look at it - I'm ready to give up!  THANX!!!
Never mind - the cluebird just hit!  I had changed the "i=" to "image=".  I just looked at the other example I had given you and you changed it to "file=".  That fixed everything!

I think file is a better word for it than image, also, since the template name is Image.


Just a follow-up on your comment about width and height - these are standard options for wikimedia image links - you either specify width in pixels or you specify height in pixels (preceded by an x to indicate it is a height) - the image template is simply passing the value through to this existing functionality.

The concern about aspect ratio is largely a non-issue - the sizes you specify in wikimedia image links are maximum sizes not absolute sizes. Regardless of the size given the aspect ratio of the image is maintained, and if two values are given you are simply setting a maximum size in each dimension.

As an example,, one of the images on the template page, at full size, is 1169×783. (roughly 1.5:1 ratio). If the size parameter is given as 100x100 the image displays as 100x67. Set to 500x100 the image is displayed as 150x100. Set to 100x500 it displays as 100x67. As you can see the image is sized as large as possible within the constraints and maintains it's aspect ratio.

Also the ability to control by height is an important option if you want to have two images with different dimensions side by side - it can just look odd if one is a different height than the other. For purposes of illustration the second pair of images on have different dimensions but are sized to the same height so that they look 'right' on the same line.



I think that you are correct on the images on the right hand side of the profile. They are out of context and should disappear.
WikiTree is so lucky to have you, Rob. Very nicely done!

Maybe have separate templates for Image Right and Image Left?

If Image Right and Image Left were separate templates, wrapping and clearing could be built-in, right? I assume most everybody would want centered images without wrapping and left/right-aligned images with, so it may not need to be an option; just separate templates.

One thing to keep in mind: We can make this more user-friendly by doing what we did before with copy-and-paste examples on the image details pages. I would bet that most users would end up copying those examples, and may never even know what a "template" is.

Thank you!

Thanks for the compliment Chris,

The only way to build-in clearing and wrapping in a single template would be to provide all the wrapped text as a template parameter which then becomes a giant problem for template argument size limits and a waste of system resources in parsing pages for display - I would 100% recommend against it.

Wrapping automatically on left or right alignment can be built into one template just as easily as two or three - building multiple templates however increases the chance that a change on one template will be forgotten on another similar template and that the templates will 'diverge' in look/feel.

So now that it seems that wrapping left and right aligned images is the prevailing preference,  the question becomes do we even want to allow for "nowrap" on left and right aligned images or do we just remove that parameter entirely?


I have now made the change to make wrapping images that are left or right aligned the default.

I have also enlarged the advanced example in hopes of making it clearer how to use the {{Image}} template and the {{Clear}} template together.

I am happy to see many people testing the draft template - so far I think is probably my favourite example of the template in use.

+10 votes
My biggest concern is function. If anybody has viewed my pages, they will know I don't focus on pretty by any means. My most frequent use of images is source data. I have my father's birth certificate scanned and ready to upload...but have not because of this debate. I can't reference that to an online source in my sources, I would only be able to say "in my possession"... Even more common is old census records. Until 1850, US Census images are not available through FamilySearch unless you have a paid membership to I can find them on and search through until I find the page, but even then a link doesn't seem sufficient...what if that link changes...why should I expect others to deal with that half-baked viewer to scroll through the barely legible list of names? But, if I save that page as an image, then crop it to show the data I am referencing, I can put that image of the original census record directly below the source citation. A lot of times it's not pretty at all, but SO much better than just a link to a transcription of the record on FamilySearch.

That's my only concern and I think it would be a pretty big loss to the value of the site to say it's not allowed. We need more sources, not more limits on the type of sources.

Now I need to go track down my images and find somewhere to link them to before they get automatically deleted...

-P Rich
by Phillip Rich G2G6 Mach 4 (43.9k points)
Phillip, I agree with everything you said but you need to be careful about copyright on anything that you post here. I think that most would agree that the recommended citation for Familysearch is fine and even the "in my possession" is fine for most. I do hope that they do allow in line images but I would rather see your sources than one I have been encountering from a long time member who still only uses "first hand information" for profiles dated in the 1800's that are created even today. The Familysearch License and Restrictions section states in part "You may not post content from this site on another website or on a computer network without our permission" and I would take that to mean that we should not post images from there unless we have received priop permission to do so.
+6 votes
As I said, when I added my 2 cents worth before or Tuppence in old money, I like adding images to my profiles, what I neglected to say outright, was the images I add to my profiles are images that add weight to what I have said in text and I also add a source to them, they are not there to look pretty, they are there so other genealogists can see the documentation or so everyone can get a feel the times of old.

Some contain images are of things that are no longer around any more, have been vandalised, or in some cases are very dificult to read and therefore could be of use to some one the same branch or even an offshoot the same tree

so another Tuppence worth, and I will have had a zac's worth of free speech, and I hope the powers that be, will have found, at least found a point or two in favour of replacing the code, or returning the the previous code back until there is a better solution to this dilemma
by Paul Curran G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
edited by Paul Curran
+5 votes

Although this is just a small cross-section of the Wikitree community, it would seem that the vast majority would like to have the inline images, with the priviso that they not copyright or if the are they have the copyright owners consent which is easy to apply for and state this in the sources some copyright give consent as long as noone is trying to make money from the item, with all that said: are we going to see the link returned to allow us to put the image inline once more in the biography or are we going to have to wait for more people to weigh ib in on this question

by Paul Curran G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
Hi Paul. Thanks for this. I'd forgotten to get it settled.

We'll move ahead on a recommended style for inline images.

I'm inclined to think we should do it without span or div, since those can be used for virtually any styling. It would add confusion if we're encouraging them. We'll work on this now.
what about just using <center></center> it does the same thing , I know it is old but it can surfice until we can get something better


Regards Paul
Hi Paul. We don't want to recommend centering. I think too many people would assume it was also recommended for text and headlines. Rob is working on a template. We should have something up soon.
I came to this discussion rather late.  I've been visiting family in Fort Worth.  I, too, enjoy seeing a few RELEVANT images within a biography.  However, what I seem to be seeing more and more of late is a profile consisting of two or three small paragraphs and a dozen or more images, only some of which may actually be relevant to the subject of the profile.  I fear that more and more of us are choosing pretty over content and definitely pretty over sourcing.  It's as though an assumption is made that the images are taking the place of sources.  Not good.  We've got to get back to stressing sources.

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