How to Cite Images in PowerPoint

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Embedding an animated image, using a humorous cartoon to illustrate a point and adding a photo to a slide are just some of the ways you can unintentionally plagiarize the work of others in a PowerPoint presentation. Whether you intended to take credit for the images or not, using the work of others in your projects without permission is a crime. The creator of the image can pursue legal action and you might lose the right to keep your creative work or pay damages to the artist. Avoid criminal charges by adhering to a simple two-step process: "ask and assign." Always ask artists for permission before using their work and assign credit to them through citations.

Find the author, year of creation and title of the image. Note the date of access and website the image was taken from. Write down the city and state of origin and current location of a hard-copy image. Contact the webmaster or a museum curator if this information is not readily available.

Select a format such as American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago-style or Modern Language Association (MLA). Ask your professor or supervisor for guidance when unsure which style-format and citation-style to use. Look through previously completed reports and check your departmental handbook for policy regarding the format used in your office for PowerPoint presentations; certain offices have their own unique style format.

Click the "Text Box" button under the "Insert" tab in PowerPoint. Click on the slide where you want to place the citation. Bibliographic information can be placed in a caption under the image, at the bottom of the slide containing the image or at the end of the presentation. Follow the accepted style format regarding the placement of citations.

Cite images retrieved from an online database in the APA format -- for example, Smith, John (Photographer). (2008). Starlet [Photograph], 29 April 2011, from: For APA citations, list the components of the citation in the following order: Last name, First name (Role of the Artist). (Year of creation). Title of work (italicized) [Type of work], Date of access, from: URL.

Substitute the date of access and URL for the following if using a hard-copy image such as a painting with the city and state abbreviation of country of creation, and the name of the institution where the piece is housed as follows: Smith, John (Photographer). (2008). Starlet [Photograph]. NYC, NY. Museum of Photos.

Reference offline images in Chicago-style -- for example, Smith, John, Starlet, 2008, gelatin silver print, 12" x12", Museum of Photos, NYC, NY. Order the information in the citation as follows: Last name, First name, Title of work (italicized), year of creation, medium and support, measurements, name of institution where the piece is housed, and present city. Cite images retrieved online as follows: Last name, First name, Title of work (italicized), year of creation. Present city. URL (Date of access).

Cite in MLA format by listing the Last name, First name, Title of work (italicized), year of creation. Type of Work. Name of institution where piece is housed, and present city. Name of source website in title case. Date website was last revised. Date of access. URL -- for example, Smith, John, Starlet, 2008. Photograph. Museum of Photos, NYC. Web. 16 May 2009. 29 April 2011. Omit the name of source website, date created and date accessed if the piece is an offline work of art -- e.g,. Smith, John, Starlet, 2008. Photograph. Museum of Photos, NYC.


  • There is no universally-accepted way to cite images in a PowerPoint presentation or any other reporting medium. Some use an abbreviated format, such as a footnote citation, on the slide featuring the image. Others just insert full bibliographic entries at the end of the presentation, similar to those found in the reference section of a report. Ask your professor or supervisor, or consult your organization's style guide for recommendations.


About the Author

Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.

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