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Using Images: Citing Images

Citing Images

It is very important to cite images that you use, just as you would cite any other work that is not your own. When using an image in a paper or presentation that uses APA Style, treat the image as a figure (see Chapter 7, "Tables and Figures," in the APA Manual). Figures in a paper require a number, title, and note with copyright attribution. For presentations, the number and title are optional, but the note with copyright attribution is still required (with a few exceptions). They should also have a reference list entry.

Figure Note

The figure note contains information or comment on the figure (optional), and a copyright attribution.

Copyright attribution includes title, author, date, site name (if available), and location (URL), as well as information about the copyright and permission status (if necessary) of the item. It is used instead of an in-text citation.

For example, to use this image:

Keeping up with science poster

the note placed below it would be:

Note. The Works Progress Administration used posters to promote its programs. From Keeping up with science [Poster], by S. Weisberg, 1939, Library of Congress ( In the public domain.


Reference List Entry

A reference list entry should also be provided for the figure. For the example above, the reference list entry would be:

Weisburg, S. (1939). Keeping up with science [Poster]. Library of Congress.



  • Some images may be free to reproduce with no attribution required. In this case, the copyright attribution can be omitted. The figure number, title and note are optional.
    • Clip Art from programs such as Microsoft Word do not require attribution.
  • For photographs that you took yourself, no citation or copyright attribution is required.


street sign that says smile have a nice day

Image with a Creative Commons License


Note. From Smile [Photograph], by larryc, 2009, Flickr ( CC BY 2.0.

Reference List Entry:

Larryc. (2009). Smile [Photograph]. Flickr.

cartoon boy with big smile

Image in the Public Domain


Note. From Funny side up [Poster], by A.M. Bender, 1936, Library of Congress ( In the public domain.

Reference List Entry:

Bender, A.M. (1936). Funny side up [Poster]. Library of Congress.

Did you smile today?

Image with No Attribution Required

This image comes from Pixabay and is free to reproduce with no attribution required. Clip Art from programs such as Microsoft Word also do not require attribution.

fun slide

Copyrighted Image


Note. From Fun slide [Photograph], by snoba, 2012, Flickr ( Copyright 2012 by snoba. Reprinted with permission.

*If you do NOT have express permission to reuse the image, leave off the "reprinted with permission" statement. If you are using the image for an educational purpose, you may be able to use it without permission if it falls under fair use.

Reference List Entry:

Snoba. (2012). Fun slide [Photograph]. Flickr.

Other Examples

Sample references from Academic Writer:

The document below contains several examples of using and citing images in a presentation (e.g. PowerPoint).