Have you ever been in this situation? You’ve worked hard to edit and revise your training content and its flow. You’ve worked even harder to put together some great quizzes to test your students’ knowledge. You even threw in some images to spice it up a bit. Now you’re looking at your completed course, and wondering if the images you’ve selected to support the content are the best they could be? More importantly, will the images distract from all your hard work perfecting the content?

Next time you find yourself in this situation, consider these tips to help you choose better imagery to support your content:

Avoid images that are cliché and stereotypical. This simply means, try to avoid images that are so overused that they are not effective or interesting any more. An example might be showing an image of an apple to represent the concept of knowledge. Another example might be selecting an image that contains an abundance of pink because your audience is mostly female. Try to avoid images that stereotype ethnicity, age, or gender.

Be careful with images that have been digitally altered. Just keep it real. That’s the best way to think about selecting images in this age of easily altered imagery. Let’s say you’re looking for an image to support the concept of computer network security, and you come across this image of a computer monitor with padlock onscreen. It has ones and zeroes in this cool digital font flying around the room and into this strong looking padlock. Perfect, right? Not so fast. Chances are that an unrealistic image like this will prove to be more of a distraction than a strong supporting image.

Look for images of real people doing real activities in a real environment. We live in an imperfect world, so why show a perfect model flying a kite while running through a field of perfectly grown flowers? I know it’s tempting to select images like this because, well, they’re perfect right? It could be that they’re so obviously unrealistic that they come across as inauthentic, not perfect.

Include a human element when the focus will be an object. When your focus is going to be on an inanimate object—say for instance, a cell phone—try to include a human element like a hand holding the phone, a finger dialing, or the back of the person’s head. By having the person using the object, or holding the object, it will add a human presence and create context.

Try to select images of people who don’t stare directly into the camera. These types of images can come across as contrived, or worse yet, confrontational. A much better approach is to select images that capture a moment or that are spontaneous in nature. Your subject should be engaged in the activity, and not necessarily aware of the camera. These images will feel more natural and authentic.

Crop your images to focus attention and draw in the viewer. Cropping an image isn’t always necessary. Images cropped correctly can help focus attention, frame the subject, and help create more interest. Be careful not to crop in so tight that the viewer can’t tell what is going on.

When selecting images that contain people, always strive for diversity. This is as simple as it sounds. Be diverse in your selection of age, gender, and ethnicity. By using diversity, your images will realistically reflect the world in which we live in and help your content be more inclusive.

Use these tips the next time you’re selecting imagery for your project, and you’ll end up with stronger, more interesting, and realistic images that do a better job of supporting your content.