How to Cite Images: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers

Citing images in academic or research work is a crucial aspect that is often overlooked. Properly citing images is not only essential but also a legal requirement that allows you to protect the author’s rights and acknowledge the source of your information. If you are wondering how to cite images, then this article provides comprehensive insights into the different techniques you can use.

When citing an image, it is essential to identify the image’s creator, title, date of creation or publication, publisher, and the image’s URL or the place you accessed it. For instance, If you found the image on a website, you would need to include the website URL, name, and the date you accessed it.

However, if you found the image in a print resource, you would need to indicate the details of the print publication, including the author, page number, and year of publication.

The Importance of Photo Citation and Giving Credit

One of the most popular and effective techniques of citing images is by using the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style for humanities, the American Psychological Association (APA) for social sciences, or the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for professional publications.

Highlighting the specific guidelines for each of these citation styles can help you to choose the most suitable technique for your needs. Whether you are writing a research paper or academic essay, knowing how to cite images should be an essential part of the writing process.

Understanding Image Citation

When creating content, it’s essential to cite any images you use to avoid plagiarism and give credit to the original source. However, citation guidelines may differ depending on the content’s context, platform, and the image’s origin. In this section, I will walk you through the best practices for citing images and provide you with a clear understanding of image citation.

Know Your Image Source

Before citing any image, it’s vital to understand its original source. You can trace an image back to its source through reverse image search or by checking the image’s properties. Understanding the image’s origin helps determine the appropriate citation format to use.

Determine The Citation Style

There are various citation styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago, and each has different formatting guidelines. Determine the style most suitable for your content and follow the guidelines accordingly.

Include Relevant Image Information

A complete image citation includes the creator’s name, the image title, the site or source you found the image, and the publication date. For instance, a typical citation for a web image could look like this: “Last name, First name of the creator. Image Title. Website Name, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.”

Use Image Alt-Tags

Alt-tags describe the image’s content to visually impaired viewers. They also help search engines index your content. Therefore, when citing images, always use appropriate alt-tags.

Image Citation Tools

There are various tools available online to help you cite images correctly. Some of these tools include EasyBib, Citation Machine, and Cite This For Me. These tools use advanced algorithms to generate accurate citations instantly.

In conclusion, understanding how to cite images is crucial when creating any content. Be sure to follow the appropriate citation style, include all relevant image information, and use image alt-tags. Also, don’t forget to use image citation tools to make the citation process quicker and easier.

When to Cite Images

As bloggers, we often use images to complement content, and sometimes we may forget to cite them. However, citing images is essential because it acknowledges other people’s work and helps readers trace the source of the image. Here’s when and how to cite images.

  1. When you use someone else’s image: If you use images found online that someone else created, it’s essential to credit the owner and cite the source. Even when images are available for reuse, it’s always best practice to give credit to the owner.
  2. When you edit an image: If you take someone else’s image and edit it, it’s crucial to give credit to the original source. Even if substantial changes were made to the image, it’s still someone else’s work.
  3. When images are still under copyright: If an image is under copyright, it is illegal to use the image without permission from the owner. In such cases, always seek permission from the owner before using the image.
  4. When the image is essential to your article: Even if you have created your image, it’s best to cite the source if the image is vital to your article. This practice provides a context that readers can use to understand your content better.

Citing images may seem daunting, but using the correct citation format can make a huge difference. In upcoming articles, we will focus on how to cite images using MLA, APA, and other citation formats. But for now, always try to give credit to the owner and source of images you use.

The Importance of Properly Citing Images

Citing images is an essential part of research, especially in today’s digital age. It is not only a matter of giving credit where it is due but also a means of avoiding plagiarism. Oftentimes, we come across images online, and the temptation to use them in our work is high. However, we must not forget that all intellectual property, including images, is protected by copyright laws.

In this section, I’m going to explain why it’s essential to cite images properly. I’ll also provide tips on how to cite images to avoid any copyright issues.

Avoid Copyright Infringement

Image creators own the copyrights for their work, and reproducing them without attribution or permission is an infringement of their rights. Using images without proper citation could result in lawsuits, fines, and irreversible damage to your personal and professional reputation. Many people assume that if an image is available on the internet, it is free for use. This is not the case; the copyright laws apply equally online as they do offline.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Citing the images correctly is an easy way to acknowledge the artists or photographers’ efforts and give them credit. Properly cited images also show that you as a researcher have conducted thorough research, which enriches your work’s credibility. The person who views your work will recognize your work’s integrity through proper citation.

How to Cite Images

Citing images requires some knowledge of copyright laws and citation styles. Here are some tips on how to cite images:

  1. Identify the essential information: Before citing the images, it is necessary to locate and collect the essential information about the image, including the title, creator, date, and location.
  2. Select an appropriate citation style: The citation style you choose depends on the type of work you’re creating. Some popular citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago style.
  3. Choose the image source appropriately: The citation style may vary depending on where you found the image. If the image is from a database, it may have different citation requirements than an image from a website.
  4. Include citation in the caption: Adding a caption to the image with the citation information is an effective way to avoid confusion. Ensure the citation is in your work’s reference list or bibliography, depending on the citation style.

In conclusion, citing images correctly is an essential part of research and helps you avoid potential copyright issues. By acknowledging the creators of the images, you enrich your work’s credibility and stand out as a reputable researcher.

Different Image Citation Styles

When it comes to citing images, there are several citation styles available depending on the type of image you’re using and the citation format preferred by your instructor or publisher. In this section, I’ll outline some of the most common image citation styles and provide examples of how to cite images using those styles.

MLA Style

The Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style is commonly used in the humanities and is known for its emphasis on author and page numbers. To cite an image in MLA style, include the artist’s name, the work’s title, the date of creation, and the institution or museum that houses the artwork (if applicable). If you found the image online, also include the URL and the date you accessed the image.


Warhol, Andy. Marilyn Diptych. 1962. The Andy Warhol Museum. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. ARS, New York. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.

APA Style

The American Psychological Association (APA) citation style is often used in the social sciences and requires a more detailed citation format. To cite an image in APA style, include the artist’s name, the year the image was created, the title of the image, and the type of medium (e.g. photograph, painting, etc.). If you found the image online, include the URL and the date you accessed the image.


Warhol, A. (1962). Marilyn Diptych [Painting]. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved March 5, 2017, from

Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is often used in the humanities and requires a footnote or endnote citation format. To cite an image in Chicago style, include the artist’s name, the title of the artwork, the date of creation, and the institution or collection that houses the artwork (if applicable). If you found the image online, include the URL and the date you accessed the image.


Warhol, Andy. Marilyn Diptych, 1962. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. ARS, New York. (accessed March 5, 2017).

By following these different citation styles, you can ensure that your image citations are accurate and consistent. Remember to always check with your instructor or publisher for their preferred citation style and formatting guidelines.

How to Cite Images in MLA Style

Citing images is an essential component of any academic or research work. Failing to give proper attribution to images can be regarded as plagiarism, which can negatively impact your work and reputation. In this section, I’ll explain how to cite images in MLA style, which is the most commonly used citation style in the humanities.

When citing an image in MLA style, include the following information:

  • Creator’s name (if known)
  • Title of the image
  • Date the image was created or published
  • Publisher or website where the image can be located
  • Type of material (photograph, painting, illustration, etc.)
  • Date of access (the date you accessed the image)

Here’s how to format your citation:

Creator’s last name, First name. “Title of the Image.” Title of the Website or publication, Publisher, Date published or created, URL or DOI. Date accessed.

For example:

Smith, John. “Chicago Skyline at Night.” Unsplash, Unsplash, 25 Jan. 2021, Accessed 10 July 2021.

You can also use the following format for images from books:

Creator’s last name, First name. “Title of the Image.” Book Title, by Author’s Name, Publisher, Year, page number.

For example:

Hopper, Edward. “Nighthawks.” The Norton Introduction to Literature, edited by Kelly J. Mays, W. W. Norton & Company, 2016, p. 121.

In conclusion, citing images in MLA style is relatively straightforward. Just make sure you gather all the necessary information and cite your sources correctly. By doing so, you’ll avoid plagiarism and give proper credit to the creators of the images you use.