Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement

@ Glendale Community College, Glendale, Arizona, USA

Quick Image Placeholders for Content Development

Skip to the end of this post for a 5-minute video demonstration of inserting visual placeholders using

Why use placeholder images?

Writing content is a very different mental task than adding images. You may want to break up passages of text with icons or images, but locating those images can take you out of the process of writing clear and concise instructional content. Instead of pausing and finding or creating the perfect image, you can always quickly add a placeholder into your content. Adding a placeholder allows you to remain focused on the written content until you’re ready to begin locating appropriate images.

One way to create a placeholder is to add some text, like “illustration of tibia bone goes here“, or “need Helpful Tip icon here“. But a plain text placeholder is easy to miss during a visual scan of your page, and you wouldn’t want to accidentally leave it there when you publish your content.

An image placeholder can be inserted almost as quickly as text. But unlike plain text, an image placeholder will be much easier to spot when you are proofreading and polishing your content later on. Image placeholders also allow you to experiment with and preview what your page layout will look like with images inserted.

visual placeholder example
Example of a visual placeholder

OK, where do I find placeholder images? is a free image placeholder service for web designers, or for anyone else creating online content. You can rapidly generate a plain gray image in any size you need, quickly insert it into Canvas, and get right back to writing the instructional content your students need, knowing you left yourself a visual reminder to add an image later.

Where can I use a image?

You can add a visual placeholder from anywhere that you can insert an image by URL, including Canvas courses, Google Docs and Google Slides.

General steps to add a image

  • Visit and copy the base placeholder “image” URL
    example url:
  • In the Canvas Rich Content Editor, Google Docs, or Google Slides, go to the place you want to add a visual placeholder and follow the standard process to insert an image
  • In the Insert / Edit Image dialog box, find the option to insert by URL
  • Paste the URL and edit the dimensions if needed (the pixel dimensions are given in width X height format following the forward slash “/” in the URL)
  • Finish the insert process (usually there is a Save or Insert button)

See it in action

This video demonstrates using visual placeholders from in Canvas, Google Docs and Google Slides

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