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Images Research Guide: Citation & Copyright

Why Cite Images?

There are many important reasons to cite images you use:

  • Give credit to the creator of the image.
  • Provide information so others can find and reuse the image
  • Participate in ongoing scholarly conversations about images

How to Cite Images

There are many ways to cite images. Most important is to include all relevant information so others can locate, understand and evaluate any images you use.

Academic Styles of Citing Images:

APA Style (Sixth Edition, 2010)

MLA Style (Eight edition, 2016)

Non-Academic Style:

Image Credits

APA Style (Sixth Edition, 2010)

Reference List

General Format:

Creator, C. (Year of Production or publication). Title of work [Description, Medium, or other relevant information]. Retrieval information or location of work.


Image Found on the Web
Euloth, G. (2012). Sleepy Kitty, Purr, Purr, Purr [Photograph]. Retrieved from

Image from a Database
Amero, E. (1951). Fiesta [Print]. Retrieved from Artstor.

Image from a Book
O’Keeffe, G. (1923). Alligator Pears in a Basket [Charcoal drawing]. In Sayre, H.M., Writing about art (6th ed.) (p. 39). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.

Image from a Museum or Archive Website
Lawrence, J. (1977). The Studio [Painting]. Retrieved from

Image in a Museum
Mirra, H. (2016). Standard Incomparable [Textile]. Pasadena, CA: Armory Center for the Arts.

In-text Citations

General Format:

(Creator Last Name, Year)

If there is no creator, use (Title, Year)


(Amero, 1951)

Figure Captions

General Format:

Figure 1. Author, A. A. (Year). Title of material. [Description of material]. Retrieved from http://www.xxxx


Figure 1. Amero, E. (1951). Fiesta. [Print]. Retrieved from Artstor.

MLA Style (Eighth Edition, 2016)

Works Cited List

General Format:

Previously, researchers made citations by following the MLA’s instructions for the source’s publication format (book, DVD, Web page, etc.). Now, there is one standard, universal format that researchers can use to create their citations:

Author. Title of source. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Note: Containers are the elements that “hold” the source. For example, if a photo is posted on Flickr, Flickr is the container. Sometimes a source is nested inside of two separate containers, like an image found in a book read on an ebook platform like Ebook Library (EBL). Both the title of the source and its container (or multiple containers) are included in a citation.


Image Found on the Web
Euloth, Glenn. Sleepy Kitty, Purr, Purr, Purr. Flickr, 2012, Accessed 11 August 2016.

Image from a Database
Amero, Emilio. Fiesta. 1951. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Artstor, Accessed 11 August 2016.

Image from a Book
O’Keeffe, Georgia. Alligator Pears in a Basket. 1923. Writing about Art by Henry M. Sayre, 6th ed., Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009, p. 39.

Image from a Museum or Archive Website
Lawrence, Jacob. The Studio. 1977. Seattle Art Museum, Seattle. Seattle Art Museum, Accessed 11 August 2016.

Image in a Museum
Mirra, Helen. Standard Incomparable. 2016, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA.

In-text citations

(Creator Last Name, Page Number)

If there is no creator, use (“Title", Page Number)

For images found online, do not list a page number.


Figure Captions

General Format:

Fig 1. Ann Author, Title of Work, Museum and/or Publication information.


Fig 1. Emilio Amero, Fiesta, National Gallery of Art, 1951, Washington, D.C.

Image Credits (Non-Academic Style)

A credit statement can be an alternative to a full academic citation, and especially useful when writing for the Web. Provide a link to the image if you can.

General Format:

Title by Creator, date (if available), via source (Creative Common License Type, if applicable).


Sleep Kitty, Purr, Purr, Purr by Glenn Euloth, 2012, via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Open Attribution Builder:

If you are using an openly licensed image, try generating an image credit with the Open Attribution Builder.

Open Attribution Builder. Enter image info, then copy and paste text or code.

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