How to Cite a List of Illustrations in MLA

When writing a research paper, it sometimes helps to add images to give extra insight or demonstrate a point visually. The most important rule for citing images is the same as the one for citing words or ideas: if you did not create it, you must cite it. Citing images requires the same information as for citing words, including the creator's name, publication information, dates, and medium.

In-Text Images

Generally, images in research papers appear as close as possible to the corresponding text. While most other types of in-text citations appear in parentheses, citations for images are included in captions located directly below the images, flush with the left margin of the text. The caption serves as both a label (using the word Figure, abbreviated Fig., and corresponding number) and descriptor for the image. If the caption includes all of the publication information for the image, or if you created the image, then there is no need for a corresponding Works Cited entry.


Another option for including images in your paper is to list them in an appendix. The appendix appears before the Works Cited page with a centered title that is not in bold, italicized or underlined. Sometimes it is appropriate to group images into multiple lists, labeled Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on.

Each image will have a caption with the abbreviation Fig. and a numeral as well as information about the image. The images can be referenced in-text with a parenthetical reference.

For example, (see fig. 1).

Most Common Works Cited Page Entries for Images

When citing illustrations in a book, the order of information in the Works Cited entry depends on what is referenced in the text.

If the author as well as the illustrator are referenced, then illustrator's name appears after the title of the book, preceded by the abbreviation for illustrator, illust. If the paper only references the illustrations, begin the entry with the illustrator's name, followed by the abbreviation illust., followed by the book's title and the author's name.

Photographs and works of visual art begin with the creator's name first, followed by the title of the work, the year created, the specific medium (such as Oil on canvas), and the name of the museum or collection.

Images taken from the web follow the guidelines for other works of visual art, but also include the name of the website or database, the medium (Web), and the date of access.

Works Cited Entries for Maps, Charts, Cartoons and Comic Strips

Entries for maps, charts, graphs, cartoons and comics follow the rules of other basic entries. Citing a map, chart or graph is similar to citing an article within a book or an article on a webpage, but with an added descriptive label (map, chart or graph) where the title of the article would normally be.

The citation for a cartoon or comic strip depends what type of publication it appears in (magazine, newspaper, etc.). The citation follows the rules for that publication but also includes a descriptive label (cartoon or comic strip) after the title.

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