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Visual Literacy: Cite Images

This guide will help you to find, read, cite, edit and present images.

Why Cite?

Citing (or Attributing):

1. Lends authority (credibility) to your work
2. Allows readers to find the sources that you’ve cited
3. Gives credit to the source’s author(s)

Also take a look at our Citation Style Guides.

Citing vs. Attributing



When do you use a citation?

You must cite any image or visual media that you use when you are writing a more formal paper. Your instructor will let you know if he or she wants you to use citations and which style is required.

What information do you need to cite?

  • Artist
  • Title of work
  • Year
  • Medium
  • Institution housing the work
  • location of the institution

Where do you put a citation?

A citation is inserted in a paper in two places:

1. Within the body of your paper (in-text citations)
2. In a list at the end of your paper (usually called Works Cited, References or Bibliography

When do you use an attribution?

An attribution is less formal than a citation. Simpler. It is often used for presentations or papers or other formats that do not require a formal citation style.

What information do you need to attribute?

  • Where the image came from (URL)
  • Who created it
  • If it has a creative commons license

Where do you put an attribution?

Put the attribution right under the image or visual media


  van gogh



Van Gogh, Vincent. Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles. 1889. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Art Project. Google. Web. 2 May 2012.




Chekalin, I. (Photographer). (2011). The Orion Nebula. [Digital Image].  Retrieved from





Cat Breading by Pinguino (2012) (CC BY 2.0)