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How to Use the Google Book Clip Tool

Updated on January 22, 2014
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I love everything weird and colorful in this world and I try to live a life that will make the world a little better once I'm gone.

Using Google Book Clip to Add Content and Images To Your Blog or Website

Did you know that you can use Google Books and its "clip" tool to display portions of millions of books that are in the public domain? That's right. You can now search an enormous library of old books and display bits and pieces (of text or illustrations) on your blogs, websites, and squidoo lenses.

You can quote the source, directly showing an scanned image from the original document or book. You can quote works whether they be textual, illustrations, photographs, maps, charts, sheet music, or tables. You can display public domain artwork as decorative elements on your page. The possibilities are endless.

There are literally millions of books sitting in libraries around the world rarely touched. They hold within them amazing stories, extraordinary artwork, fascinating information, and useful raw data. Because the content of these books has been hard to search, and often inaccessible to people far away, this information could have been lost to history, but now with Google Books, these books live on.

Google Books do not come without their limitations. Some countries block Google Books from being displayed (China being one), but they are an extra weapon to add to your arsenal.

Learn how you can now share these books with the Google Clip tool.

  • Content - Clips from Google Books can provide useful and rich content to add to your web pages. The ability to add illustrations, photos, quotes, charts, sheet music, or maps and to your page can increase its usefulness to the reader.
  • Clickouts - Google Book Clips link back to their original source. Being hyperlinks, this gives your visitors a connection to more information, and it gives you a chance to get clickouts from your page.
  • Traffic - Making your Google Book Clips SEO friendly by adding the ALT tag, you can get traffic from image searches relative to your topic.
  • Legal Images - Having free and legal illustrations to improve the aesthetic of your page is important. Very specific topics can be difficult to locate pictures for, but with access to Google Books in the public domain, there are millions of images available for use.
  • Quotes and References - Give your writing credibility by adding quotes and references, whether textual or illustrative, to your page.

Have You Used Google Book Clips?

Have you used the clipper tool on Google Books?

See results

How to Use the Clipper Tool

While looking at any book in the public domain, at the top right of the page you will see a button that says "Clip". This is how you will choose just the part of the page you are interested in. Think of it as a copy and paste alternative.

Click on "Clip" one time and then draw a box around the area you would like to turn into an image and share on your website. Do this by clicking in one corner, holding it in and dragging to the opposite corner. As you draw your box will highlight in light blue.

When you have finished your selection, a box will automatically appear displaying three fields. The first is used to translate text (we don't need to use this one). The second holds the URL for the clipped image, and the third has the HTML code you will need to add to your page with a link back to this page. Copy and paste this "embed" code to your site.

It is as simple as that.

Choose the Code to Embed Image

Imagine the Possibilities

Take a look at these images, all from books, and clipped from Google Book Clip. These could all make perfect additions to a lens on a related topic. They would add content and improve the page aesthetically. You can surely imagine the usefulness of images such as these:

Will Google's Book Scan Project Transform Academia?

Making Your Google Book Clip SEO Friendly

The Beautiful ALT tag

Adding the ALT tag to your Google Book Clip is a great way to both add some context to your image, as well as make your page stand out in image searches. You can give the image a title and perhaps a credit to the source.

Again using the snowy owl example from the top of this page, here I've added the ALT tag "The Snowy Owl (from The Birds of America by John James Audubon)". This will help my page get better placing in an image search for "birds of america", "audubon birds", "audubon snowy owl", etc.

alt="The Snowy Owl (from The Birds of America by John James Audubon)" width="150" src="" />

Google Book Clips As Dividers

Years ago, books were beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. They were adorned with gorgeous drawings, sketches, woodcuts, etc. Hundred's of years later, those images are no less lovely. Using Google Book Clips, you can give these illustrations a new life, while at the same time directing people back to the original source. Browse old books for great dividers such as these:

Embed An Entire Book

As well as embedding a clip from a book, you can also embed an entire book on your blog or website. (NOTE: because this is done using iframes, you cannot add an entire book to a squidoo lens, but you can add a link to it).

To embed a book in the public domain, while viewing the book, click "Link". This will pop up a box with two pieces of code. The first is the URL for the book (set to the page you are looking at or the search term you have entered - so check it before using it). The second piece of code is what you will need to embed an entire book into a site. You can view an example here: Elizabeth of Bavaria. (Thanks to Chef Keem)

Changing the Image to Suit Your Space

Changing the size of the image is as simple as adding the width attribute to the img tag.

For example the code for the snowy owl above was altered to be a width of 150 pixels (as it was originally far too large to look good on the page), and also aigned to the right side of the area. Here is the code for the snowy owl, so you can see where to place the width and align tags:

width="150" align="right" src="" />

Wait, I can't find the clip tool on this book?!?!

For copyright reasons, only books in the public domain can be clipped to websites and blogs.

The best way to find books in the public domain is to use the advanced search on Google Books, and then clicking the button of Public Domain only.

More About Google Books - The Highly Useful and Highly Debated Google Books


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    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 

      7 years ago from Kentucky

      Didn't know about this, thanks so much!

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      10 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Forget to mention -- blessed by a Squidoo angel.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      10 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Wow! Thanks for a really useful lens. Got me thinking of some of the very old books I have in less than prime condition I might be able to scan if they are in the public domain.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      How cool is that! Not only the clip tool, which is awesome, but.... Google Books, at ALL! Wow, I'm so excited about that! Gotta' go check that out right n---

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Terrific! The information here is invaluable to one extremely non-geekie. Not "anti-" just something on the order of geek challenged. I'll be using google book clip for sure. S-A Blessed.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      I cant wait to give this a try. I am glad you squidcasted it, or I may not have found it.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is useful information.. Would remember it when I need to add something from books!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      11 years ago

      I have used this idea many times now. Thank you! I wish I had been able to do this when I first read this lens ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel ~

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      11 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Kab, just want you to know that when I view this page from China (without a VPN) I don't get the images from Google books. There are images that look like torn paper, and other things that say Image Not Available.

      The public domain thing is only available in USA. So it's something to consider if a fair amount of your traffic is from outside USA. I did use this tricky, however, on my latest lens. The way I got around it is to use the picture location URL Google Books gives you and add it to my Tagfoot images. Then Tagfoot gives me HTML that I can add to a lens. Worked quite well! So thanks for the idea even though I had to devise a workaround.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      11 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Found this lens via a search. Excellent information! I am just now discovering Google books clip tool. THANKS!! (One note -- many of the public domain books are not available if you're accessing them from a non-USA IP.)

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      11 years ago

      Oh, this is great! I've used Google Books before but did not know about this. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Michey LM 

      11 years ago

      Useful lens, Thanks a lot


    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      11 years ago

      Great stuff... Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      11 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Wow! What a great resource. Thank you for making this page.5*

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      11 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great tool! Thanks!

    • Rich-H profile image


      11 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Great tutorial! Another very useful tool. Thank you :)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great information!

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      11 years ago from California

      Great stuff! I hadn't heard of Google Book Clip tool yet. Thanks and bear hugs, Frankie

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      11 years ago from California

      Wow, this is some good info. Never heard of Google Book or Clips. Thank you, and especially thank you for the tips on the Alt Tag :)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      This is definitely something I will use. Thanks!

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      11 years ago from France

      I hadn't heard of this being available, great tips on how to use it.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Glad you shared this on Tagfoot - bookmarking as I will want to come back to it. I love it when people find free stuff that wont cause a problem with copyright. Thank you and SquidAngel Blessings for you!

    • profile image

      Sue Dyson 

      11 years ago

      This is a great resource! Thank you SO much. I'm looking forward to "playing" more =)

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      11 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      it is really a great lens kab. very very useful to me. special thanks for this informative lens.

    • RickyRobi LM profile image

      RickyRobi LM 

      11 years ago

      This is a great tool! Now, if I could only remember to use it when it comes time.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Such a great share, kab. Heard about this lens on SquidLog. :)

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      11 years ago

      Was just reading about this today. You have given me some great ideas! Thank you! Very well written and easy to understand. Fived and Faved!

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 

      11 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks for this brilliant tutorial on how to use the Google Book Clip Tool, Kerri. I'm so glad I checked into Twitter this morning and noticed your tweet. A hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this great lens! :-)


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