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Citing Sources: Audiovisual/Images - MLA

This guide indicates the appropriate form for layout, in-text citations, and bibliography for MLA, APA, and Chicago formatted papers.

Why Do We Have to Cite Images?

Simply, images are created by someone. Whether a person took a photograph, painted a piece of art, or created a digital image does not matter. If it was not created by you then give credit to the person who did create it.

You also have to check to see if the creator has given you permission to use the work. Please make sure you review the Copyright considerations when using images.

When you find the image you want to use, make sure you keep the following information so you can make the citation::

  • Image creator's name (artist, photographer, etc.)
  • Title of the image
  • Date the image (or work represented by the image) was created
  • Institution (gallery, museum) where the image is located / owned (if applicable)
  • Date of access (the date you accessed the online image)
  • Website and/or Database name

General Information about Using Images with MLA

The MLA Handbook indicates that images (illustrations and tables) should be placed as close to the text they relate to as possible (4.5). Each image should include a caption directly below it which will include the citation information. If the caption provides the full citation and if the source is not used in the text, then no entry is needed for the image in the Works Cited list.

A few notes:

  • The citation of an original work of visual art differs from the citation of an image/reproduction from a secondary source, such as a book or a website. The examples provided focus on images from a secondary source.
  • It is good practice to cite clipart.
  • You may not always be able to find each source detail mentioned in the format guidelines. Just do your best to provide as much information as possible in your citations. 
  • As with other citations, if you cannot find the information for the citation you can't include it.
  • Check with your teacher. Many teachers prefer a short citation below the image and the full citation to be included in the Works Cited list.
  • You cannot cite Google Images. You must go to site where the image was originally found.

How to format the caption

  • caption goes directly under the image
  • Each image must be labeled Figure - usually shortened to Fig.#.
  • Citation follows
  • The caption is a note so the punctuation is a bit different than the Works Cited entry. For ease of use, St. Paul's teachers are okay with using the same format at the Works Cited entry.

Ideal situation - have all information. Image is found on the web.:


Fig. 1. Artist’s last name, First name. Title of artwork (italics if it is a work of art). Year. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork. Title of database or website. Publisher/sponsor of database or website. Medium consulted. Date of access.<URL>.



Fig. 1. Artist's last name, First name. Title of the artwork.

Works Cited page (remember the hanging indent):

Artist’s last name, First name. Title of artwork. Year. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork. Title of database or website. Publisher/sponsor of database or website. Medium consulted. Date of access.<URL>.


Fig. 2. Title of image or your own description of the image. Title of the website where it was published (not Google!). Publisher. Date it was published (if you know it). Web (medium). Date that YOU saw it (today's date). Abbreviated URL.  

This can be a lot of information to put under the image. Another option is to use a shortened citation and include the full citation in the Works Cited list.

Fig. 1. Machol, Dan. "Turtle." Flicker, 30 July 2007, <URL>. Accessed 13 May 2015.


FIg. 1. Machol, Dan. "Turtle." (complete citation will be in the Works Cited page)