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Images for Designers and Art Researchers

Citing Images

When "citing" an image, find out whether a caption or a citation (or both!) are needed.

  • The caption contains a description of the image and a credit line.
  • The citation contains enough information as necessary to locate the image.


A caption looks like this:

Title or Description. Credit Line.

caption appears next to the image and identifies or describes the image, and credits the source.  There is no standard format for captions.


Point out any aspects of the image that you think are noteworthy or relevant.  You may want to include:

  • Names of people who deserve creative credit for the image (photographer, designer, stylist...)
  • Title or Description of Work
  • Date of Work
  • Medium (photograph, digital photograph, painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, poster, artists' book)
  • Dimensions

//Architecture & Interior Design//
architect or designer, type of illustration (e.g., interior, exterior, plan, elevation, drawing), location (street address, intersection, neighborhood, city, state/province, region), year built, year designed, year pictured, block & lot, GPS coordinates, official name of site.

model or person, label or house, type of garment, fabric or material, collection or season, runway look number, location.

type of print, name of series, location.

Credit Line

  • Suggested terms to credit a source: "From..." "Collection of ..." "Courtesy ..."
  • The credit line can be brief if you are also including a full citation in your paper or project.
  • For books and periodicals, it helps to include a date of publication.  You can also include the author, title, and page number.

******* When reposting digital images publicly, you must follow any stated rules in a source's "Terms of Use," Image Credits," or "Image Permissions" section.


A citation looks like this:

Name. Title (or Description). Year.  Source.

A citation appears in a note or in a bibliography and should follow the conventions provided in a style guide.  However, there is no standard format for citations, either.  The key to a good citation is that provides enough information to help readers locate the image. 

  • Name: If the creator is unknown, you can substitute the name of the entity that commissioned the image (e.g., Paramount Studios, Chicago Public Library, NASA).
  • If source is an image database: include identifying numbers and collection information.
  • If source is a book, periodical, or website: cite using Chicago Notes-Bibliography style.

Additional Resources