They say a picture tells a thousand words—so photographs can serve an important purpose in essays you’ve written or presentations you’re working on. Google Images, which contains images from thousands of websites at the click of a button, is one of the easiest places to find photos on the Internet. Knowing how to cite an image found on Google Images is, therefore, pretty helpful.
While you might know how to cite a thousand word long journal article, citing an image might seem more difficult, especially if you’ve obtained that image from an online source. Luckily, citing a picture you’ve found on Google Images isn’t all that different from citing a website you found after doing a quick Google search.
Say you’re working on an biographical paper or PowerPoint presentation about President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and you want your title page or opening slide to contain a photograph of the former president, who has the distinction of being the only president to serve more than two terms and who led the country out of the Great Depression and throughout much of World War II.
Google Images has you covered on the picture—the site has pages and pages of images, including this neat one of FDR sitting at his desk in the Oval Office—and if you want to cite the photo in MLA format, APA format, or Chicago style, we’ve got you covered on that.
Before continuing, you should understand that many of the images found through Google and other search engines are copyright protected. This means that you are not allowed to make money from the use of these images. For example, it is illegal to make and sell t-shirts that display this image of Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, according to Chapter 1, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, you are allowed to use images for research and classroom purposes.
Information Needed for the Citation
Now that you understand how to properly use digital images, let’s get back to the one we’ve found for the biographical project:
After finding the image that you’d like to use, to the right of the image, click the button that says, “Visit page.” This is where you’ll find the information you need to cite the image.
Here’s the specific information you’ll need to locate when citing an image you found on Google Images:
- Full name of the image’s creator, such as the name of the photographer or illustrator (if available)
- Formal title of the image (if available) or a description of the image
- Name of the website where the image lives (Do not use Google as the name of the website!)
- Publisher of the website where the image was found on
- Date this information was published on their site
- The URL
*Please note that if putting these citations in a printed paper, the lines should be double-spaced and indented.
How to cite an image from Google Images in MLA 8:
Last name, First name of creator. “Title” or description of the image. Title of the Website, Publisher, Date of publication, URL.
- In MLA, If the image has a title, place it in quotation marks and include capital letters for the first letter in each important word and for pronouns. If it does not have an official title, create a simple description. Only capitalize the first letter in the description and the first letter for any pronouns.
- Only include the name of the publisher if it is different than the name of the author and title of the site.
- For URLs, remove http:// and https:// from the citation
How to cite the example image in MLA 8:
Photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt at his desk. The Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/04/25/the-white-house-boo-boo-in-counting-roosevelts-executive-orders/?utm_term=.06cac0ac12e5.
How to cite an image from Google Images in APA:
Image creator’s Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of image [Photograph, Cartoon, Painting, etc.]. Retrieved from URL
- In APA, if the image does not have a formal title, describe the image and place the description in brackets.
- If the author AND the title of the image are both missing, create a description, place it in brackets, and include the year and the URL (see the example below)
- In APA, do not place a period at the end of the URL
How to cite the example image in APA:
[Photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt at his desk] (2017). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/04/25/the-white-house-boo-boo-in-counting-roosevelts-executive-orders/?utm_term=.06cac0ac12e5
How to cite an image from Google Images in Chicago:
Last name, First name Middle initial of creator of image. “Title of image” or Description. Digital Image. Title of Website. Month Day, Year Published. Accessed date. URL.
- If the image does not have an official title, create a description. Do not place the description in quotation marks.
- Only include the date the image was accessed if there is no publication date!
How to cite the example image in Chicago:
Franklin D. Roosevelt at his desk. Digital Image. The Washington Post. April 25, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/04/25/the-white-house-boo-boo-in-counting-roosevelts-executive-orders/?utm_term=.8d30c188c74c.
“Chapter 1: Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright.” Copyright Law of the United States, p. 19, www.copyright.gov/title17/chapter1.pdf.
Reproducing Figures and Tables
Reproducing happens when you copy or recreate a photo, image, chart, graph, or table that is not your original creation. If you reproduce one of these works in your assignment, you must create a note (or "caption") underneath the photo, image, chart, graph, or table to show where you found it. If you do not refer to it anywhere else in your assignment, you do not have to include the citation for this source in a Works Cited list.
Citing Information From a Photo, Image, Chart, Graph, or Table
If you refer to information from the photo, image, chart, graph, or table but do not reproduce it in your paper, create a citation both in-text and on your Works Cited list.
If the information is part of another format, for example a book, magazine article, encyclopedia, etc., cite the work it came from. For example if information came from a table in an article in National Geographic magazine, you would cite the entire magazine article.
The word figure should be abbreviated to Fig. Each figure should be assigned a figure number, starting with number 1 for the first figure used in the assignment. E.g., Fig. 1.
Images may not have a set title. If this is the case give a description of the image where you would normally put the title.