Ordering images

Digitisation of rare manuscript

British Library Digitisation Services provide a range of products to suit your needs, whether that’s private research or commercial publication

You can order images of British Library collection items that you find in our catalogues. The most common ones customers use are Explore the British Library and Explore Archives and Manuscripts.

Images of some of our collections are already available to buy and download straight away through Images Online, so you should check there first before ordering from our Imaging Services.

To order images from the British Library, use our online order form. You’ll need the following information:

  • The British Library shelfmarks of the items you want, from our catalogues
  • The title of the item you want
  • The page or folio numbers you want us to scan or photograph (using the page number marked in pencil)
  • The product you want, from the list below
  • How you want your order delivered
  • Your credit or debit card details

If you can't find the item you need on one of our online catalogues, or you require a page count to work a price out, please contact one of our Reference Teams, who can help you explore our collections and locate the material you want.

There are some restrictions on what and how we can copy items from our collections. You should also check how you can use the images you order from us to make sure that you will have the permission to use your images in the way you want.

Here's a guide to using the British Library's Imaging Services. It covers everything you need to know about ordering images from the British Library:

Customer Details

We’ll contact you by email or phone if there are any further questions relating to your order.


Standard method of delivery is electronic. If you require another format please contact us. Please note that not all of our collection is available for Express Service delivery.

Order Details

In the case of folios, please state whether front, back (or both) is required. Unlike pages, these have the same number for both sides of the leaf. The front is called 'recto' and is often abbreviated as r or a. The back of the leaf is called 'verso' and is usually abbreviated as v and sometimes referred to as b.


When ordering manuscripts, the page numbers are identified by the pencil markings on the top of the page. Some manuscripts may contain further numbering, please ignore these and use the pencil markings. If you need any clarification, then please contact us.

Order Copyright

There may be copyright in the images we supply. If you would like to reproduce copies of these images, please contact our Permissions department for more information.

Method of payment

Payments are required using credit or debit card or an account.

Image Format

Digital image for reference – This means that your image will be produced from scanning the original item. If your order is from a precious or rare item, it may need expert photography. If this is the case, we’ll contact you.

Digital image for reproduction – This means that your image will be photographed and reproduced in high quality. You can use the image as required, including for reproduction and publication, as long as you have the right permissions.

Additional information

If there is any other information you can provide that would help us to fulfil your order, please add here. E.g., “picture only required”. If you have a large request, these may need to be scheduled in to our studios timescales. In these cases, we will contact you. 

Please note, where a surrogate exists scans will be taken from the microfilm and will be in black and white. If colour is required please add this request to the additional information.

Further enquiries

If you require any further information regarding ordering images from us, please contact us.

More from Digitisation Services

Bulk digitisation

Find out how our digitisation experts can help you and your organisation digitise your archives


All the information you need on the cost of our services

Specialist digitisation

We have specialist expertise in handling a range of material types and managing complex preservation requirements

Contact us

How to get in contact with our Digitisation Services teams