Finding images on the Internet can be very easy, but when citing them in academic research, it is important to provide accurate information about the sources. To do this, you will have to find the original source of each image and gather information afterwards. In the end, you will be able to organize the information in citations with the correct format according to the rules of the appropriate style guide.
Part 1 of 3: Finding the Original Source of an Image
Step 1. Go to Google Image Search
To properly cite an image, you have to locate the original source. To open Google's image search engine, go to the following link:
Another image search engine that you can use is Tineye
Step 2. Upload your image and click "Search"
Click on the small camera that appears next to the search bar and press "Upload an image." Select the photo in question on your hard drive and click search.
If you have a URL for the photo, you can search for it that way as well
Step 3. Click on "All Sizes" to see more results
The ones that appear at the beginning will only be images that are the same size as the one you uploaded. Click on the link that says "All Sizes" for many more results.
Step 4. Review the results to locate the original
Start clicking on the images that appeared to you and try to find the original source. You may need to do a little research. Just use your common sense to try to find the original owner of the image. There are some clues you can look for. The owner of the image is likely to be one of the following:
- the largest file
- oldest file
- an image hosted on a page that includes copyright or usage policy information
Step 5. Find the photographer or editor
Some images are created by photographers or digital designers for profit. These people create images for a living and may not want them to be used without their permission or without payment from the user. As much as possible, try to find out who took the photo or created the image.
Step 6. If necessary, ask permission to use the image
Citing an image appropriately is an important step, but that alone does not guarantee permission to use or reproduce it. If you plan to use an image on your blog or some other published document, look for the copyright information and usage guide related to it. Contact the owner and ask for permission to use it. Explain where you will show the image and why.
- In most cases, if you're using the image for non-profit or educational purposes and you cite the source exactly, you can.
- If you are going to use the image for commercial purposes, you will need to ensure that you follow the copyright guidelines and you may have to pay for its use.
- Images that have Creative Commons licenses can be used freely.
Part 2 of 3: Gather Information About an Image
Step 1. Determine the name of the creator of the image
In order to attribute ownership of an image, you will need to gather as much information as possible. Once you've located the original source for the image, try to find the name of the person who created it.
- This could be the name of the person who manages the website hosting the image.
- It could also be a username (especially if the source of the image is Tumblr, Pinterest, or some other social network).
Step 2. Find the title of the image
Find the legend, hover over the image to see if any additional information appears, or try saving to see the file name.
Step 3. Determine the date the image was created
If possible, try to determine when it was created. If it is a representation of an existing work of art or photograph, include the date the original work was created.
- If you are working with an image that is only for the web, see if the page where it is hosted has information about its use or copyright. You may find the creation date there.
- If you are citing a work of art that already exists, an internet search will tell you the date it was created.
Step 4. Find out where the original is
If you are going to cite a work of art, you will also have to mention where the original is located. Name the gallery, library, or museum. Also, mention the city in which the institution is located.
For example, if you are going to talk about The Persistence of Dalí's Memory, a quick search on the Internet will tell you that it is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York
Step 5. Make a note of where you accessed the image
Enter the name of the web page or database where you found the original image. If your page is run by an organization, sponsor, or publisher (such as a university publisher), you will need to include this information as well.
Step 6. Write down the date you accessed the image
Materials on the Internet change all the time. Therefore, it is important to note the date an image was accessed (the date you viewed or downloaded it). Including it is not always mandatory, but it gives your quote more credibility.
Part 3 of 3: Cite Images Following Different Style Guides
Step 1. Cite the image of a work of art in MLA.
To cite the image of a work of art in the MLA format, you must provide the name of the artist (last name first), the name of the work (in italics), the date of creation, the institution and the city in which it is Find the actual work, the name of the web page (in italics), the URL and the date of access.
For example: Dalí, Salvador. The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Persistence_of_Memory. Accessed August 9, 2017
Step 2. Use the MLA style to cite an image that only exists on the web
If the work is only on the Internet, the MLA format will be slightly different. Provide the name of the artist (or user), the title of the work, the name of the web page (italics), the name of the organization supporting the page (if any), the creation date, the URL and the date of access. You may not be able to find all the data, so only record what you can.
For example: Hindstrom, Jari. Young Girl Doing Cartwheel at Parade. 123RF, www.123rf.com/photo_14428384_young-girl-doing-cartwheel-at-the-park-with-narrow-depth-of-field.html. Accessed August 9, 2017
Step 3. Cite an image in APA
To cite images (works of art or from the web), you will need much of the same information, but the organization will be a little different. It includes the following: the artist's last name, the first initial, the middle initial, the year it was created, the title of the work and the format (in brackets), and the URL.
- For example: Dalí, S. 1931. The persistence of memory [painting]. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Accessed August 9, 2017 on Wikipedia,
- Try to find as much information as possible, but include only what you can. In some cases, the entry will be as simple as the following: [Untitled illustration of a banana]. Accessed August 9, 2017 at
Step 4. Use the Chicago style to quote an image
To cite images (works of art or from the web) with the Chicago style, you will need the name of the artist, the title of the work (in italics), the medium, the measurements of the work and the institution where it is located, the address URL and the date you accessed the file. If you are referencing a figure that was used in an essay, start the citation with its figure number.
- Again, it is only necessary to include the information that corresponds and that is available.
- For example: Fig. 5. Dalí, Salvador. The Persistence of Memory. 1931, oil painting on canvas, 24 cm x 33 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Available on Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Persistence_of_Memory (accessed August 9, 2017).