We are developing multimedia information systems, concerning images, figures, characters and numeric values. In this paper, we describe a similarity retrieval method, that retrieves images or figures similar to given key images or figures. In this retrieval method, the topological structure of the key and that of the stored data are utilized to determine the similarity. For this determination, a level of similarity is designated by a user. According to this level, various traits of the stored image contents are retrieved (for example, whether the orientation of each element is concerned with the similarity or not). This retrieval method was applied to a house plan database and to a piping and instrumentation diagram database.