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How do you cite images?

Last Updated: Jan 23, 2014  |  51 Views

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There are a number of differet ways to site images. you can find citations guides on the library learning commons webpage  here.

Some images require more unique citations. Below you'll find more information on a variety of sources:

Creative Commons:

All Creative Commons (CC) licences require the user to attribute the creator of the image, but how that attribution can be provided is flexible depending on the type of licence and the medium in which the image is being used. Depending on where the image will be used different citation formats are necessary to convey all the required information. In an online environment hyperlinks can be used to minimize the length of the image citation; in a print resource the citation will be longer because all the required information must be written out in full. In some cases it may be most appropriate to use a shortened citation next to the image, then a longer citation on a references style list.

All CC attributions should have the same basic information:

•       Title of image

•       Creator name

•       Source of the image (usually in the form of a URL to image source page)

•       Any copyright information included with image (such as a watermark)

•       CC licence information (including link back to CC documentation page if possible)


For a detailed guide to attributing creative commons materials see: Attributing Creative Commons Materials created by CCI and Creative Commons Australia available here:

Online Image Databases:

Online image databases are sites such as Flickr, or Wikimedia Common. Some of them are free to use and some are commercial. The attribution or citation required depends on the individual database. Each database should have a terms of use or copyright statement laying out what is and is not permissible to do with the images in their collection and how the images should be attributed.

If there are no citation requirements specified by the database then the general rule of "creator, title, source" applies. In this case, the URL to the database site or the individual image page would be the best way to attribute source, although just the name of the database (ie: Flickr) would be sufficient for Copyright Act standards. Reference style guides, such as APA, MLA, or AMA, may have more detailed citation requirements; consult the appropriate style guide if you are following a particular style in your work.


Citing images from a website is very similar to citing images form online image databases. Check the website's terms of use (or copyright/ permissions section) to determine if the image is available for use and for any specific attribution requirements. If no specific attribution requirements are indicated then the standard "creator, title, source" (with the source being a URL to the image webpage) applies. Again, check with a reference style guide if you are lost.

****Note: Many websites and blogs use others' materials without permission. When considering using an image from a website, double check the website owner is the copyright holder, or has permission to use and share that image. It is not always easy to identify who is the true copyright holder of an image. So please use your judgment before you copy and paste and question whether it is reasonable to assume the website owner is the image copyright owner.

Answered by Heather BuffettBookmark and Share

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