Citing Images

Citing Images

No matter where you get your image (Google image search, ARTstor, museum website, scan from a book) or how you use it (Power Point, in a paper for class, a flyer), you MUST provide a citation for every image you use. This is as simple as adding any of the following information known about a work to the bottom of the digital image.

To attribute a work to its source, without a specific citation format, make sure to provide as much information as possible, including:

  • Author or Creator name
  • Title
  • Year of creation
  • Material
  • Repository information (museum, library, or other owning institution)
  • Image source (database, website, book, postcard, vendor, etc.)
  • If from the web, the URL of the website
  • Date accessed (for online retrieval)

For example:

Red Panda by Johannesen, 2009. Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)



See the Australian Research Council document Attributing Creative Commons Materials for more information on how to cite.

For basic metadata guidelines (for student and faculty use in papers, class projects, or presentations, or to add metadata to your personal photographs), here is a handy guide (courtesy of the Embedded Metadata Working Group).    

example from this guide:


Creator Walters Art Museum
Title Penannular Brooch; detail; hoop

Anonymous (Irish Celtic); Penannular Brooch; 6th-7th century (Early Medieval); bronze with traces of gilt; 12.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 cm; 54.2341; Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD, USA; ID: 2120; Public Domain

Keywords metalwork; pins (jewelry); penannular brooches; Celtic; Early Medieval; spirals (geometric figures)
Copyright Notice Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License and GNU Free Documentation License



If you are using a specific citation for a paper, e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago Style, the formatting for citing images can be adjusted to each style. If you do not have to use a particular citation style, you still must attribute a source to the image by providing all information available.

Review the libraries’ Citation Help  page for further examples of citation styles.

Citing images from a physical book or journal in a bibliography is slightly different from citing images found online. Examples of photographic reproductions of artwork (e.g. images of artwork in a book):


·         From Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, sixth ed.

Nast, Thomas. “The Tammany Tiger Loose: ‘What Are You Going to Do about It.’” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, 11 November 1871. As reproduced in J. Chal Vinson, Thomas Nast: Political Cartoonist, plate 52. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1967.


·         From The Purdue Owl MLA Formatting and Style Guide

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo del Prado, Madrid. Gardener's Art Through the Ages. 10th ed. By Richard G. Tansey and Fred S. Kleiner. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace. 939. Print.


·         From University of Michigan APA Citation Guide

Rousseau, H. (1896). The ship in the storm [Painting]. Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris. By Claire Fresches et al. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art. 232.

(if plate # is known, add after the page #)

Citing Digital Images

Chicago/Turbain MLA APA


Author/Artist’s name (last, first). Painting or Image Title  OR        “Photograph Title,” year. medium,  dimensions. repository, city. URL


(via ARTstor)


van der Weyden, Rogier. Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1430-1432. Diptych panel,. 18.5 x 12 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. Available from: ARTstor, (accessed November 27. 2012).


Artist's name (last, first), title  of work. Date of creation. Medium. Institution and city where the work is housed. Name of website, mode of publication, date of access. [Note: URL not needed in this style]


(via Museum Website)


Foggini, Giovanni Battista. Carlos II on Horseback. 1690. Bronze. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo National del Prado. Web. 19 November 2012.


Author last name, first initial. (Year image was created). Title of work or description. [Type of work], Retrieved from: URL (address of website)

(via Online Newspaper)


Getty Images. (1952). Lucien Freud [Photograph], Retrieved from: (

Notes (Footnote/Endnote) or citation within a paper or slide presentation

Fig. 2. Rogier van der Weyden, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1430-1432.  Diptych panel, 18.5 x 12 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. Available from: ARTstor,

Fig. 14. Giovanni Battista Foggini. Carlos II on Horseback. 1690.  Bronze, 97 cm x 44 cm x 68 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo National del Prado. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. Digital Image.

Notes (Footnote/Endnote) or citation within a paper or slide presentation

Fig. 5. Getty Images. (1952). Lucien Freud [Photograph]. Retrieved from CNN blog:

Note: if image is found in a database, do not add URL but the database name (e.g. Oxford Art Online, ARTstor)