List: What’s Not Allowed In YouTube Thumbnails (2024)

Article last updated on:
April 08, 2024

There are several things you should avoid including in your YouTube thumbnails to avoid having your thumbnail removed or age-restricted.

Our information is 100% based on YouTube’s rules:

4 Things to Avoid in YouTube Thumbnails

These 4 things are forbidden in YouTube Thumbnails: Graphic content (e.g. nudity, violence), misleading or fake information, hate speech, and copyrighted material.

YouTube Thumbnail Policy

Picture comes from this official guide: Thumbnail Policy.

1. Graphic Content

Avoid any visuals that showcase nudity, excessive violence, or graphic content intended to shock or disgust viewers.

2. Misleading

Your thumbnail should accurately represent the video content.

Using misleading images or clickbait to lure viewers can lead to viewer frustration and mistrust, and YouTube may penalize such practices by limiting the video’s visibility or demonetizing it.

3. Hate Speech / Harmful Content

  • Thumbnails promoting hate speech, discrimination, or harmful behaviors towards individuals or groups are strictly prohibited.
  • YouTube is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive community, and content that violates these principles is subject to removal or channel penalties.

4. Copyrighted Material

Ensure you have the rights to all images, logos, and other materials used in your thumbnails.

Using copyrighted content without permission can result in copyright claims, leading to:

  • The removal of your thumbnail (or video)…
  • Or more serious actions against your video or channel.

Always opt for original content or assets you’re licensed to use.

Shortlist: No-Nos in Thumbnails

Inappropriate ContentNudity, sexually suggestive content, violence, gore, disturbing imagery, vulgar or offensive language.
Misleading or Deceptive ContentClickbait, sensationalized text or imagery, false promises, misleading editing (fake expressions, out-of-context screenshots).
Design IssuesLow-resolution images, blurry or pixelated visuals, unclear or unfocused composition, excessive text, difficult-to-read fonts, poor color contrast.
Copyright InfringementUsing images or content you don’t have the rights to.

By following these guidelines and avoiding the mentioned elements, you can create engaging and informative thumbnails that comply with YouTube’s policies and accurately represent your video content.

Frequently Asked Questios

1. Can you have blood on YouTube thumbnail?

Blood in YouTube thumbnails is generally discouraged, especially if it’s graphic or presented in a way that could shock or disgust viewers. It’s always safer to opt for less graphic thumbnails.

2. Can I use any picture for YouTube thumbnail?

You can use a wide range of pictures for YouTube thumbnails, but there are some key rules to follow:

  1. Ownership or Permission: Use images you own or have permission to use. Avoid copyrighted material unless you have the rights or it falls under fair use.
  2. Content Guidelines: The image must adhere to YouTube’s content guidelines, avoiding inappropriate or misleading content.
  3. Quality and Relevance: Choose high-quality, relevant images that accurately represent your video content to attract viewers genuinely interested in your content.

This brings us to…

3. Is there copyright on YouTube thumbnails?

Yes, copyright can apply to YouTube thumbnails just like any other creative work. For images, artwork, or logos in your thumbnails, you need to ensure you have the right to use those elements.

This means either using:

  • Your own original content;
  • Content that is in the public domain…
  • Or content you have permission to use through licenses or fair use exceptions.

Using copyrighted material without permission can lead to copyright claims, potentially resulting in your thumbnail being removed or other actions against your video or channel.


This guide just studied everything about what your thumbnails shouldn’t be.

Hope you found what you needed!

Thank you for reading this,

About the author

David is the head of the editing team at ThumbnailTest. With his help, the editorial team is able to provide you with the best free guides related to YouTube thumbnails and A/B testing.