How to cite an image in Chicago style

In Chicago style, it’s acceptable to just include information about images in the text, rather than writing a formal citation.

Informal image citation
Goya painted The Drowning Dog directly onto a wall in his house some time between 1820 and 1823. The painting depicts . . .

If you’re required to include a formal citation, you can follow the format shown below to cite images found online in notes and bibliography style. Make sure to cite the page where the image is hosted, not, for example, the Google search results where you found it.

Format Author last name, First name. Image Title. Month Day, Year. Format description. Website Name. URL.
Bibliography entry Cheng, Minder. Double-Crested Cormorant. March 21, 2021. Photograph. Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/2kQcKZ3.
Footnote 1. Cheng, Double-Crested Cormorant.

Citing an artwork from a museum

When you viewed an image in person at a museum, gallery, or other location, write the image title in italics and provide information about the institution housing it.

Format Author last name, First name. Artwork Title. Year. Format description. Institution Name, City.
Bibliography entry Goya, Francisco. The Drowning Dog. 1820–23. Mixed method on mural transferred to canvas. Museo Del Prado, Madrid.
Footnote 1. Goya, Drowning Dog.

Citing a map

If you need a formal citation for a map, you can follow the format below. List the cartographer as the author and the title (if any) in italics, followed by any available information about the size and scale, and where the map was accessed (e.g. in a book, museum, website, article).

Format Cartographer last name, First name, cartographer. Map Title. Year. Size and scale information. Institution Name, City. URL.
Bibliography entry US Geological Survey. California: Yosemite Quadrangle. 1909; repr., 1951. 30-minute series quadrangle, 1:125,000 scale. National Map, Historic Topographic Map Collection. http://nationalmap.gov/.
Footnote 1. US Geological Survey, California: Yosemite Quadrangle.

Online maps may lack a title or date. A description in plain text should be substituted for a missing title, and an access date should be included. For example, you’d cite Google Maps as follows.

Format Description of map. Google Maps. Accessed Month Day, Year. URL.
Bibliography entry Map of Des Moines, IA. Google Maps. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://goo.gl/maps/bWR8TDSkbi5LAkJ88.
Footnote 1. Map of Des Moines, IA.

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Image citations in Chicago author-date style

In Chicago author-date style, an in-text citation for an image consists of the author’s last name and the year the image was created.

These citations correspond to entries in your reference list. Reference list entries are similar to bibliography entries, except that the year comes immediately after the author’s name.

Format Author last name, First name. Year. Image Title. Month Day, Year. Format description. Website Name. URL.
Reference list entry Cheng, Minder. 2021. Double-Crested Cormorant. March 21, 2021. Photograph. Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/2kQcKZ3.
In-text citation (Cheng 2021)
Format Author last name, First name. Year. Artwork Title. Format description. Institution Name, City.
Reference list entry Goya, Francisco. 1820–23. The Drowning Dog. Mixed method on mural transferred to canvas. Museo Del Prado, Madrid.
In-text citation (Goya 1820–23)
Format Cartographer last name, First name, cartographer. Year. Map Title. Size and scale information. Institution Name, City. URL.
Reference list entry US Geological Survey. (1909) 1951. California: Yosemite Quadrangle. 30-minute series quadrangle, 1:125,000 scale. National Map, Historic Topographic Map Collection. http://nationalmap.gov/.
In-text citation (US Geological Survey [1909] 1951)
Format Description of map. n.d. Google Maps. Accessed Month Day, Year. URL.
Reference list entry Map of Des Moines, IA. n.d. Google Maps. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://goo.gl/maps/bWR8TDSkbi5LAkJ88.
In-text citation (Map of Des Moines, IA, n.d.)

Frequently asked questions about Chicago style citations

How do I include an image in my paper in Chicago style?

In Chicago style, when you don’t just refer to an image but actually include it in your paper, the image should be formatted as a figure. Place the figure before or after the first paragraph where it is mentioned. Refer to figures by their numbers in the text (e.g. “see fig. 1”).

Below the figure, place a caption providing the figure number followed by a period (e.g. “Figure 1.”), a reference to the source (if you didn’t create the image yourself), and any relevant information to help the reader understand the image (if needed).

The caption is single-spaced and left-aligned, and followed by a blank line before the continuation of the main text.

How do I cite a source with no author in Chicago style?

In a Chicago footnote citation, when the author of a source is unknown (as is often the case with websites), start the citation with the title in a full note. In short notes and bibliography entries, list the organization that published it as the author.

Type Example
Full note 1. “An Introduction to Research Methods,” Scribbr, accessed June 11, 2020, https://www.scribbr.com/category/methodology/.
Short note 2. Scribbr, “Research Methods.”
Bibliography Scribbr. “An Introduction to Research Methods.” Accessed June 11, 2020. https://www.scribbr.com/category/methodology/.

In Chicago author-date style, treat the organization as author in your in-text citations and reference list.

How do I cite a source with no date in Chicago style?

When an online source does not list a publication date, replace it with an access date in your in footnote citations and your bibliography:

Example: Chicago bibliography entry with access date
Scribbr. “How to Write a Research Paper.” Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.scribbr.com/category/research-paper/.

If you are using author-date in-text citations, or if the source was not accessed online, replace the date with “n.d.”

Example: Chicago author-date citation with no date
(Scribbr, n.d.)
Should I use short notes or full notes for my Chicago citations?

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, the usual standard is to use a full note for the first citation of each source, and short notes for any subsequent citations of the same source.

However, your institution’s guidelines may differ from the standard rule. In some fields, you’re required to use a full note every time, whereas in some other fields you can use short notes every time, as long as all sources are listed in your bibliography. If you’re not sure, check with your instructor.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 6, 2021 at 9:16 PM

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