If you’ve ever had anything stolen from you, then you are aware of the terrible feeling you get from having your possessions taken away. On the Internet, if you’re a writer or an artist, it is even more irritating to see your hard work being used without proper credit to you, or even the credit being taken by someone else. If you hate seeing images and writing being taken and used without credit, you definitely wouldn’t do the same to another, right? Well, at least not with the intention of doing so…

Whether you’re writing a blog post, term paper, or report for work, you’ll definitely find it imperative to cite your sources… especially for images that are not your own. There are two main, reputable manuals the outline the style in which to list your references. MLA (Modern Language Association) is used mostly by academics, and the CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) is most relevant to book and journal publishers.

MLA Style Image Sourcing

The MLA goes into pretty extensive detail on how to source images, based upon image type. Typically the sources are saved for the last page or bibliography.

A Map or Chart
Cite a map or chart as you would an anonymous book or pamphlet. Include the appropriate designator after the title. Example:

Wisconsin. Map. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, 1997/98. US Markets – Long-Term Performance. Chart. Austin, TX: Martin Capital Advisors, 2007.

A Cartoon or Comic Strip
Cite the artist, the title of the cartoon in quotations, and the appropriate designator identifying the type of document it is. Example:

Sipress, David. Cartoon. New Yorker 18 Oct. 2004: 16. Trudeau, Garry. “Doonesbury.” Comic Strip. Star-Ledger [Newark] 4 May 2002: 26.

Images Created Offline
For works housed outside of an online home, include the artist’s name, the year the work was created, and the institution (e.g., a gallery or museum) that houses it (if applicable), followed by the city where it is located. Include the complete information for the site where you found the image, including the date of access. Examples:

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo del Prado, Madrid. 22 May 2006 <http://museoprado.mcu.es/i64a.html.>.
Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive. “Klee: Twittering Machine.” 22 May 2006 <http://artchive.com/artchive/K/

All Other Images
For other images, cite as you would any other Web page, but make sure you’re crediting the original creator of the image. Examples:

brandychloe. Great Horned Owl Family. 22 May 2006 <http://image46.webshots.com/
brandychloe. Great Horned Owl Family. 22 May 2006 <http://community.webshots.com/user/brandychloe>. Path: Albums; birds; great horned owl family.

Chicago Manual of Style Image Sourcing

Each example is given first in humanities style (a note [N], followed by a bibliographic entry [B]) and then in author-date style (an in-text citation [T], followed by a reference-list entry [R]).

Websites may be cited in running text (“On its Web site, the Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees states . . .”) instead of in an in-text citation, and they are commonly omitted from a bibliography or reference list as well. Examples:

N 11. Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees, “Evanston Public Library Strategic Plan, 2000–2010: A Decade of Outreach,” Evanston Public Library, http://www.epl.org/library/strategic-plan-00.html.

B Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees. “Evanston Public Library Strategic Plan, 2000–2010: A Decade of Outreach.” Evanston Public Library. http://www.epl.org/library/strategic-plan-00.html (accessed June 1, 2005).

T (Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees)

R Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees. Evanston Public Library strategic plan, 2000–2010: A decade of outreach. Evanston Public Library. http://www.epl.org/library/strategic-plan-00.html.

Blog Entries & Comments

Weblog entries or comments may be cited in running text (“In a comment posted to the Becker-Posner Blog on March 6, 2006, Peter Pearson noted . . .”) instead of in a note or an in-text citation, and they are commonly omitted from a bibliography or reference list as well. The following examples show the more formal versions of the citations. Examples:

N: 8. Peter Pearson, comment on “The New American Dilemma: Illegal Immigration,” The Becker-Posner Blog, comment posted March 6, 2006, http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2006/03/the_new_america.html#c080052 (accessed March 28, 2006).

B: Becker-Posner Blog, The. http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/.

T: (Peter Pearson, The Becker-Posner Blog, comment posted March 6, 2006)

R: Becker-Posner blog, The. http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/.

The standard web formatting for providing image sources (for when they actually are provided) varies on specifics, but has the same general characteristics. In my last place of employment, I was the Lead Editor in a team of editors going through user-generated content for online publication. Image sources were required for every single graphic or photograph within an article. The acceptable formats were as follows:

  • Underneath the image itself, provide these elements: “image source” or “via [artist/photographer]” and the link to the original url where the image was found, within context (i.e. where you could see any copyright information).
  • On the image itself, it is possible to write in very simple html the original url so that a simple click on the image would take you to the source.
    The HTML code for this is as follows: <a href=”URL”><img src=”URL” alt=”” /> </a>
  • Another option (and the least preferred for an article published online) is to just compile and list/link to all of the image sources at the very end of the article. It is easier for the writer, but very inconvenient for the reader to find the source for the image they’re seeking.

How do you source your images?