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Image search and citation: Image citation

Image Search and Citation

Citing an image from a paid database

To cite an image from a database you will need to provide information about the image itself, plus the information about the database that provides access. Britannica Image Quest provides a citation in both MLA and Chicago style, however the citations are often incomplete and should not be used.

In many cases you can simply put the url in a text box directly under the image in your presentation or print document. Check with your teacher to be sure this is ok. Look at the example toward the bottom of this page for another way to cite your image.

Decades project: cite your images on a separate page from the MLA-style research bibliography you create in Noodlebib. Use this format:
Photo credit: Creator (or copyright holder)/Title/URL or image ID.

An MLA Works Cited entry looks like this:

West, Ted. Disembarking Beatles. 11 Mar. 1965. Britannica Image Quest. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.


A Chicago style bibliography entry looks like this:

West, Ted. Disembarking Beatles. Photograph. March 11, 1965. Accessed March 14, 2014.

A Chicago style footnote or endnote entry looks like this:

     1. Ted West, Disembarking Beatles, photograph, March 11, 1965, accessed March 14, 2014,



Citing a free image found online

At Menlo, we have been accustomed to putting the url of an online image into a text box under the image in a print document or online presentation. Sometimes this results in a very long url however. There is a better way, which will give credit to the image creator and will also reflect the copyright status of the image. Follow these steps:

Be sure you are using an image that has a license statement like those provided by Creative Commons

Take note of the image title, the author, and the license type

Assemble the information from #2 in this way: Title/Author/License

If you are creating a print document, your citation is finished.

If you are creating a digital document or presentation, create three hyperlinks: Title should link to the original image, Author should link to the author's home or profile page if available; License should link to the license for that particular image. Place that linked text below the image. When finished it will look like this:

Beatles on Stage/rickvg/CC BY-NC-SA

More information about attribution can be found here: Best Practices for Attribution.

Copyright vs attribution

Copyright refers to the ownership of a document, an image, a piece of music, etc. The copyright holder decides who can use his or her work, and how it can be used. Everything you see on the Internet is copyrighted by the owner/creator; much of what you see online cannot be used without the express permission of the owner.

Attribution refers to the process of giving credit to the owner of a work. Providing attribution - i.e. creating a citation - does not take the place of getting permission for use. Even if a work is labeled "copyright-free" you must provide attribution.

Fair use refers to the rights for use of a copyrighted work under certain conditions. Generally speaking, use within a classroom setting is permitted but posting copyrighted works online requires permission.

Are you confused?

Help is available!

Email your questions to

Mrs. Rettberg