How to cite an image in Chicago style

Note: This article mainly covers notes and bibliography style. For author-date style, click here.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, it’s recommended to just cite images in notes, omitting them from the bibliography. List an image in your bibliography only if you cite it frequently,  if it’s essential to your argument, or if your university requires you to.

Follow the format shown below to create a note and—if necessary—a bibliography entry for an image viewed online. Make sure to cite the page where the image is hosted, not, for example, the Google search results where you found it.

Bibliography Author last name, First name. Image TitleFormat description. Website Name. Month Day, Year. URL.

Cheng, Minder. Double-Crested Cormorant. Photograph. Flickr. March 21, 2021. https://flic.kr/p/2kQcKZ3.

Full note Author first name Last name, Image Title, Format description, Website Name, Month Day, Year, URL.

1. Minder Cheng, Double-Crested Cormorant, photograph, Flickr, March 21, 2021, https://flic.kr/p/2kQcKZ3.

Short note Author last nameShortened Image Title.

2. Cheng, Double-Crested Cormorant.

Citing an artwork from a museum

When you viewed an artwork in person at a museum, gallery, or other location, provide information about the institution housing it. Include a URL if the museum website has a page dedicated to the artwork.

Bibliography Author last name, First name. Artwork Title. Year. Format description. Institution Name, City. URL.

Goya, Francisco. The Drowning Dog. 1820–23. Mixed method on mural transferred to canvas. Museo Del Prado, Madrid. https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-drowning-dog/4ea6a3d1-00ee-49ee-b423-ab1c6969bca6.

Full note Author first name Last nameArtwork Title, Year, Format description, Institution Name, City, URL.

1. Francisco Goya, The Drowning Dog, 1820–23, mixed method on mural transferred to canvas, Museo Del Prado, Madrid, https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-drowning-dog/4ea6a3d1-00ee-49ee-b423-ab1c6969bca6.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Artwork Title.

2. Goya, Drowning Dog.

Citing an image from a book

An image you encountered in a book, journal article, or other print source should be cited by first listing information about the image itself, then listing information about the source it was contained in, including the page number where the image can be found.

Use italics for the title an image originally created outside the context of the book or article (e.g. an artwork) and quotation marks for the title of an image original to the book or article (e.g. an infographic). Use plain text to describe an untitled image.

An example citation of an artwork from a book is shown below.

Bibliography Author last name, First name. Image Title. Year. In Author first name Last name, Book Title, Page number. City: Publisher, Year.

Bruegel, Pieter, the Elder. Christ Carrying the Cross. 1564. In Rose-Marie Hagen and Rainer Hagen, Bruegel, 24. Cologne: Taschen, 2019.

Full note Author first name Last nameImage Title, Year, in Author first name last nameBook Title (City: Publisher, Year), Page number.

1. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Christ Carrying the Cross, 1564, in Rose-Marie Hagen and Rainer Hagen, Bruegel (Cologne: Taschen, 2019), 24.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Image Title, Page number.

2. Bruegel, Christ Carrying the Cross, 24.

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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 Cheng, Minder. 2021. Double-Crested Cormorant. Photograph. Flickr. March 21, 2021. 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 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 Author last name, First name. Year. Book Title. City: Publisher.
Reference list Hagen, Rose-Marie, and Rainer Hagen. 2019 Bruegel. Cologne: Taschen.
In-text citation (Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Christ Carrying the Cross, 1564, in Hagen and Hagen, 2019, 24)

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)
May 25, 2021 at 2:16 AM

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