Information Policies and Instructions

Copyrights and Credits

USGS-authored or produced data and information are considered to be in the U.S. Public Domain. While the content of most USGS websites are in the U.S. Public Domain, not all information, illustrations, or photographs on our site are. Some non USGS photographs, images, and/or graphics that appear on USGS websites are used by the USGS with permission from the copyright holder (as required by USGS policy on use of copyrighted material). These materials are generally marked as being copyrighted. To use these copyrighted materials, you must obtain permission from the copyright holder under the copyright law.

When using information from USGS information products, publications, or websites, we ask that proper credit be given. Credit can be provided by including a citation such as the following:

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey 
Department of the Interior/USGS
U.S. Geological Survey/photo by Jane Doe (if the photographer/artist is known)

Additional information on Acknowledging or Crediting USGS as Information Source is available.

If you have questions concerning the use of USGS information, please send an email to

USGS Visual Identity System

To reinforce visually who we are and what we do, the USGS uses a visual identity system that provides planning and design solutions for USGS information products. A key component of the visual identity system is the USGS identifier. This identifier is trademarked and must be used in accordance with the rules outlined at Visual Identity System. Information on who may use the USGS identifier and how to obtain a copy of it is available at Use of the Trademarked USGS Identifier by Non-USGS Organizations.

For relevant USGS policy on the Visual Identity System, refer to the Survey Manual chapter entitled, “USGS Visual Identity System.”


If you have questions on the USGS Visual Identity System, contact the USGS Visual Identity System Help Desk.