Images are an important part of any story an online publication posts.

They help grab a reader’s attention when scrolling through the homepage and break up a page full of text. The hardest part is figuring out how many images to use.

The number of images for stories varies based on each individual story. The best part is your clients have a variety of image types to choose from.

Every Story Needs One

It doesn’t matter how long or short the story is. Your clients need at least one featured image to go with their headline. Over 50% of Twitter and Facebook users access the social platforms to find the latest news stories. Without an image to share with the story, the majority of those users may never even notice the story. Considering there are approximately 1.8 billion active social media accounts, your clients don’t want to miss out on this large demographic.

Having at least one image insures your client has a visual to go along with the headline. Images are far more eye catching than text alone. In fact, stories with images are 104% more likely to be read and twice as likely to be shared. However, once readers click the link, they still prefer to see more images.

Enough To Tell A Story

It’s easy to know how many images to add if the publication is showing fashion trends or home improvement tips. Having an image for each section or tip helps describe the text. For other types of stories, it’s not so black and white.

Readers tend to only retain 20% of what they read, but 80% of what they see in an image. It’s one of the biggest reasons infographics are so popular. Laying out the most important facts in a story in image form helps the information stick better in readers’ minds.

Some publications use one or two infographics within stories to sum up the biggest points, especially in more data driven stories. Others use image based quotes or tweet link images to make facts or important aspects stand out.

Think About The Audience

It’s also important to consider where the majority of your client’s audience reads the stories. Are they mainly on desktops, mobile or a combination? For a mainly mobile audience, fewer images are best as the stories load faster and readers don’t have to scroll as much on smaller screens. Of course, responsive images help fix some of those problems.

A larger desktop audience means it’s okay to use more images. One per major point or section is usually acceptable. Learning more about the readers is key to finding the right image/text balance.

Add In Where It Makes Sense

Telling your clients to use more images could just result in a story filled with stock photography. If the images don’t make sense, readers get confused. The best ways to incorporate more images naturally include:

  • Image based quotes with important facts or even headlines
  • A single image with each sub-head, especially for longer sections of text
  • Charts with survey or statistical data to back up a story
  • Infographics to sum up posts at the end
  • Clickable images to tweet or share quotes from the story (ideal for long blocks of texts where other images don’t work as well)

Often times, online publications pick a pattern for adding images. For instance, they might use a featured image and then add in one image per sub-head or every other sub-head. Creating a custom layout for these types of stories helps ensure the client always remembers to add in enough images to please readers.

Experiment With Images

Some readers prefer more text than images and vice versa. Setting up A/B testing with different types of stories using varying amounts of images is the best way to see what the readers want most. You can then work with them to create layouts and design strategies to work in the ideal number and types of images.


As long as your clients are using at least one image, they’re on the right path. The longer the story, the more images your client needs to break up the text. Guide your clients through choosing the right number of images. With a little research, it’s easy to find the right balance to please your client’s target audience.

Already know how many images your clients need, but want an easier way to customize layouts? Just install the Conductor plugin and shave valuable time off creating any type of layout you need.

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