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How to Cite an Image in a Paper


When writing a research paper, you must cite all sources in footnotes or endnotes. There are several different styles of citation. Modern Library Association (MLA) style is used in papers on literature, art and other humanities. American Psychological Association (APA) style is generally used for psychology and education. Though some schools and professors dabble in lesser-used styles of citation such as Turabian and the Chicago Manual of Style (which is actually the normal style for published non-fiction and magazine articles), research papers generally require MLA or APA style.

MLA Style

To cite an original piece of art, use this format: Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Name. Title. Year of Production. Medium. Name of Museum or Private Collection, City Name. Italicize the title. The citation should look like this: Doe, Jim. Untitled #3. 1974. Oil on canvas. Mutter Museum, Philadelphia.

To cite an image of an original work of art -- one that exists in a museum, private collection, etc. -- found in an online database, use this format: Title of Work. Year of Production. Name of Museum or Private Collection. Name of Website. Web. Date of Access. <Web Address>. Italicize both the title of the work and the name of the website. Make sure it looks like this: A Winter Landscape. 1640s. The Hermitage. ABC Gallery. Web. 23 May 2011. <http://www.abcgallery.com/O/ostade/ostadeisaak11.html>

Cite an image that is only found on the Internet (or that has no information about its original location) like this: Uploading User. Title of Work. Upload Date. Name of Website. Web. Access Date. <Web Address>. Italicize the title and the website name. Make sure it looks like this: Watt_Dabney. Brad Boys on Bench London 1981. 11 March 2008. Flickr. Web. 23 May 2011.

Cite a reproduction of art in a book using this format: Artist's :ast Name, Artist's First Name. Title of Work. Year of Production. Museum or Private Collection, City. Title of Book. By Author's Name. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Page Number. Print.

Italicize the titles of the work and the book. Make sure it looks like this: Chicago, Judy. Place Setting for Sojourner Truth. 1979. Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York. Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture. By Michael Kammen. New York: Knopf, 2006. 323. Print.

Cite an unpublished photograph that you personally took by following this format: Subject of Photograph, Location. Date of Photograph. Personal photograph by author. File Type. Make sure it looks like this: Goldfish in Pond with Cat, Philadelphia. 17 March 2011. Personal photograph by author. JPEG file (or printed photograph, or Polaroid film).

Cite an unpublished photograph that someone else took by following this format: Photographer's Last Name, Photographer's First Name. Subject of Photograph. Date of Photograph. Format. Make sure it looks like this: Doe, Jane. Cat sleeps in corner. 8 June 2009. JPEG file.

Use this format to cite unpublished visual works in other media, as well -- instead of saying "JPEG file" say "Oil on canvas" or "Sculpture."

APA Style

To cite an image from a library database, use the following format: Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Initial. (Year of Production). Title of Work [Type of Work]. Museum or Private Collection, City. Retrieved from Name of Database.

Italicize the title of the work. Choose the type of work from words like "painting," "photograph," "sculpture," etc.

If the image does not have a title use this format: Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Initial. (Year of Production). Museum or Private Collection, City. Retrieved from Name of Database.

Cite a free image from the Internet using the following format: Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Initial. (Year of Production). Title of Work [Type of Work]. Museum or Private Collection, City. Retrieved from Web Address.

Italicize the title of the work.

Cite an image reproduced in a printed source by using the following format: Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Initial. (Year of Production). Title of Work [Type of Work]. Museum or Private Collection, City. Name of Book. By Author's Name. Publication City: Publisher. Plate or Page Number.

Italicize the name of the work and the name of the book.

About the Author

Jennifer Gigantino has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been published in various venues ranging from the literary magazine "Kill Author" to the rehabilitation website Soberplace. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and digital media from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Photo Credits
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