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A guide to resources for finding images in UVic Libraries

Subject guide

Profile Photo
Christine Walde
Christine Walde,MLIS
Room 404, University Librarian's Office
Mearns Centre for Learning-McPherson Library
University of Victoria
PO Box 1800 STN CSC
Victoria, BC V8W 3H5
Subjects: Art, Journalism, Theatre

Additional citation guides

For further guidance with citations, see UVic Libraries' Citation Help page and the Citation Management Software Libguide.

For authoritative prescriptions on how to use each style, see the official guide to APA style, the MLA handbook (available online through UVic), or the Chicago Manual of Style (also available online through UVic).

Citing images in MLA format

In-text citations of images in MLA format follow the same (Creator, page number) convention as citations for books and journal articles. Use the artist's name as opposed to the author's, and omit the page number if using a web source.

The basic format for citing an image in your reference list in MLA format looks like this:

Creator last name, first name. Title of Work. Year. [Source], URL.

The remainder of this guide will detail what this citation looks like for a few common examples. The [Source] section will tend to vary, depending on where you found the image.

For several authoritative examples see Appendix 2 of the MLA Handbook, which provides examples of citations in many formats. Scroll down to see example citations of paintings, photographs, sculptures, illustrations, and slides.

Titles of images in MLA

Works with clear titles deliberately provided by their creators should have the titles italicized. If the work is untitled, provide a short, descriptive title for it. An example of a short, descriptive title might be "Photograph of toy rubber duck floating in bathtub," "Painting of woman entering automobile," or similar. Attributed titles can be drawn from the image, if the image contains appropriate text. See the MLA guide sections 5.28-5.29 for more information on attributing titles.

You should make an effort to discover the title of an image if possible. Using tools like Google Reverse Image Search to search using a digital image file can be a simple way to gather more information about a photo.

If you cannot locate the original title of the work and must attribute a title instead, the title should be in plain text.

Creator last name, first name. Title of Work. Year. [Source], URL.

Titles of cartoons or printed illustrations (as opposed to fine art) should be put in "quotation marks".

Images from online sources

If you found the image in a database, website, or online museum catalogue the MLA reference list citation should look like this:

Creator last name, first name. Title of Work. Year. Website title, URL.

Some examples:

Ashoona, Shuvinai. Untitled from The Polar World. 2017. The Art Gallery of Ontario,

Clausen, Ron. Victoria BC British Columbia Parliament Building dome 2005. 2005. Wikimedia Commons,

If the full name of a creator is unknown, it is acceptable to cite the user's screen name - in other words, if you can identify the real name, then use that, but if not, then cite 'librarydude42' as the creator.

Images from a book

If you are citing an image as reproduced in the book, MLA will usually allow you to simply use the format for citing a book, and indicate the specific page number the image is found on.

If you would prefer to cite the image as its own entry in your reference list, you may do so with the following format:

Creator last name, first name. Title of work. Year. Art Gallery [if known]. Title of book, by Author's name, publisher, year, page number.

Bastien, Alfred. Canadian Gunners in the Mud, Passchendaele. 1917. The Great War and Modern Memory: The Illustrated Edition, by Paul Fussell, Sterling Publishing, 2009, p. 173.

Images with an unknown creator

You should make an effort to discover the photographer of an image if possible. Using tools like Google Reverse Image Search will allow you to search using a digital image file. This can be a simple way to gather more information about a photo's creator.

If the individual creator is unknown, you may cite the group or organization responsible for the image as the creator. This may be appropriate for cases such as images printed in a newspaper with no individual photographer credited, or photos taken by government agencies - and may lead you to crediting "The Globe and Mail" or "National Aeronautics and Space Administration" as the author. For instance:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Curiosity at 'Glen Etive.' 2019. NASA,

If there is no individual or group creator for the image, you may cite using the title and no author. The example below does not list a date as this information is unknown.

Queenstown Publicity. Archives New Zealand.

Images without a title

If you cannot find the title of an image, you may cite the image using either the file name - if a descriptive file name has been provided by the creator - or provide a short descriptive title in plain text yourself.

The example provided below is a citation for an untitled image found online by a creator known only by a screen name.

Phil. Photograph of the Assabet Woolen Mill building in Maynard, Massachusetts. 2020. Flickr,

Including images in your paper

If you include an image in your paper, MLA conventions require you to label it with a figure number, caption, and citation information. Discussion of the image in the body of the paper should make reference to the image by figure number as shown below:

Good examples for formatting an image to include in your paper can be found in UVic's LibGuides (see Figure 1).

If the paper is intended for broader circulation - if it will be published or posted online - you should ensure that you have the permission of the copyright owner to do so. Though MLA does not explicitly prescribe that you include licensing or copyright information under the image, it certainly does not hurt to do so.

An example might look something like this:

Photograph of a houseboat in Victoria, B.C.

Fig. 1. A houseboat located in Victoria, B.C. From Michal Klajban; Fisherman's Wharf Park, Victoria, British Columbia 08; Wikimedia Commons, 2018,,_Victoria,_British_Columbia_08.jpg. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 license.

Images included in your paper should also have reference list entries as laid out earlier in this guide.

A reference list entry for the photo above would look as follows:

Klajban, Michal. Fisherman's Wharf Park, Victoria, British Columbia 08. 2018. Wikimedia Commons.,_Victoria,_British_Columbia_08.jpg.

Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.