Skip to Main Content

Finding and Using Images

Citing Images

Attributing the creator is necessary anytime you use an image. Whether you had to obtain permission or it was freely available to use, it is necessary to give credit to the creator or copyright holder. Make sure to read the usage rights statements on websites to understand if there is specific wording that needs to be used. 

There are potentially three places you will need to cite.

  • In-Text Citation
  • Image Caption
  • Works Cited or References  

Here are some examples for citing in MLA, APA and Chicago formats. 

Citing Images in MLA

  • All visual illustrations/images (except for maps, diagrams, charts, tables, etc.) should be labeled Fig or Figure, then an Arabic numeral that corresponds to the figure.  (ex. Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.)
  • When referring the figure (in-text) do not capitalize fig or figure.
  • Figure captions provide titles or explanatory notes.
  • If the caption includes the complete bibliographic information about the source (and the source is not cited in text) no entry for the source in the works cited is necessary.
  • MLA no longer requires the URL in the citation. If an instructor requires the use of URL’s, MLA suggests placing angle brackets (<>) around the URL.

You will need to include as much information as possible:

  • Name of creator/username of the image.
  • Title of image (in quotation marks). If no title exists, create a brief descriptive title. 
  • Medium of work. (ex. illustration, map, cartoon, photograph, etc.)
  • Date of resource creation (if available).
  • Title of webpage or article.
  • Name of site (in italics).
  • Larger institution or organization (if applicable).

Last-name, First-name or Username. “Title of Image.”  Medium of work. Date of resource creation. Title of webpage or article. Name of site

Image Caption:

Fig. 1. “Aurora Over Calgary and Spokane.” NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.    

Works Cited:

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “Aurora Over Calgary and Spokane.” Photograph. 19 Feb. 2012. Flickr.

Citing Images in APA

  • All visual illustrations/images should be labeled Figure, and then numbered consecutively in italics.  (ex. Figure 1).
  • When referring the figure (in-text), make sure to capitalize Figure. Do not refer to the image as “the figure below” or “the figure above.”
  • Image should be centered in the paper.
  • Image captions include title of image and a brief explanation. Also provide source and copyright information.
  • Do not put a period after the URL.

You will need to provide as much information as possible:

  • Name of creator/username of the image.
  • Role of the creator in parenthesis such as artist, sculptor, etc.
  • Year of creation in parentheses. If there is no date available, put (n.d.)
  • Title of image (in italics). If there is no title, create a description of the work.
  • Type of work (ex. illustration, map, cartoon, photograph, etc).
  • Retrieved from URL or database name.

Last-name, first-name initial. (Role of the creator). (Year of creation). Title of image or description of work. [Type of work]. Retrieved from URL/database


The aurora borealis (see Figure 1) is a natural multicolor light display produced by solar wind particles seem in high latitude regions.

Image Caption:

Figure 1. Aurora Over Calgary and Spokane. This figure illustrates the aurora borealis aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr.


NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. (2012). Aurora Over Calgary and Spokane. [Digital Image].  Retrieved from


Citing Images in Chicago (17th ed.)

  • Only citation style that requires the inclusion of the work's dimensions (if known).
  • If citing in its original context, include the medium (e.g. oil on canvas, photograph, etc.).
  • If there is no creator or organization information then begin the citation with the title. No title? Create a descriptive title and place within square brackets. No date? Use "n.d."
  • When including images in your work, label them as fig. 1, fig. 2, unless they are tables (which are labelled table 1, table 2).

Author-Date (social sciences, sciences):

Creator's Last name, First name. Date created. Title of Work. Medium, Date of Work. Title of Source, Location, Date of Publication. URL.


McCurry, Steve.1984. Afghan Girl. Photograph, December 1984. National Geographic, cover, June 1985.

In text citation: (McCurry 1984)

Notes & Bibliography (arts, history, humanities):

Creator's first and last name, Title of Work, date, medium, dimensions, location, or collection (publication details in brackets for footnotes), date accessed and URL.


McCurry, Steve. Afghan Girl. December 1984. Photograph. National Geographic, cover, June 1985. 

First note:

5. Steve McCurry, Afghan Girl, December 1984, photograph, National Geographic, cover, June 1985,

Shortened Note:

6. McCurry, Afghan Girl.

MORE Details and Example Citations for Chicago from: Carleton University's Macodrum Library and DiMenna-Nyselius Library

Last Updated: Feb 13, 2024 2:32 PM