How to cite an image in MLA
The format in which you cite an image in MLA style depends on where you viewed the image. Images are often found by searching online; in this case, you’ll cite the website where the image is hosted, in the following format.
|Format||Creator last name, First name. “Image Title.” or Description of image. Website Name, Day Month Year, URL.|
|Works Cited entry||Quinn, Pete. “European Grey Wolf Portrait.” Flickr, 21 Dec. 2019, flic.kr/p/2k6vq7V.|
Note that if you find an image using a search engine like Google, you should cite and link to the site hosting the image, not the search engine.
Including images as figures
If you include an image directly in your paper, it should be labeled “Fig.” (short for “Figure”), given a number, and presented in the MLA figure format.
Directly below the image, place a centered caption starting with the figure label and number (e.g. “Fig. 2”), then a period. For the rest of the caption, you have two options:
- Give full information about the source in the same format as you would in the Works Cited list, except that the author name is not inverted.
- Or give just basic information about the source, like the author, title, and year.
If you go for option 1, you can leave this source out of your Works Cited list, since you already give full information in the caption. With option 2, you do need a Works Cited entry giving full information. The example below takes the second approach.
Citing images from museums and galleries
To cite an artwork from a museum or gallery, mention the name of the institution and the city it is located in (unless the city name is already part of the institution’s name).
|Format||Artist last name, First name. Artwork Title. or Description of artwork. Year, Institution Name, City.|
|Works Cited entry||Rembrandt. The Night Watch. 1642, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.|
If you viewed the artwork on the museum’s website, instead of in person, you should include the website name (usually the same as the name of the museum) and the URL.
|Format||Artist last name, First name. Artwork Title. or Description of artwork. Year. Website Name, URL.|
|Works Cited entry||Goya, Francisco. Saturn Devouring His Son. 1820–23. Museo del Prado, www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/saturn/18110a75-b0e7-430c-bc73-2a4d55893bd6.|
Citing images from books
When you refer to an image you encountered in a book, it’s often sufficient to just cite the book as a whole. Include a figure and/or a page number to identify the image you’re referring to.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher, Year.|
|Works Cited entry||Aarts, Bas. Oxford Modern English Grammar, Oxford UP, 2011.|
|In-text citation||(Aarts, fig. 3.1, p. 67)|
If the Works Cited entry specifies a single page on which the image appears, you don’t need to add a page number in the in-text citation.
|Format||Image creator last name, First name. Image Title. or Description of image. Year. Book Title, by Author first name Last name, Publisher, Year, p. Page number of image.|
|Works Cited entry||Hals, Frans. The Clown with the Lute. 1625. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed., edited by Stephen Greenblatt, W. W. Norton, 2016, p. 35.|
A similar format is used to cite an image reproduced in a PowerPoint.
Citing images from journal articles
Images from journal articles can also often just be referred to in the text, citing the whole article with a figure and/or page number specifying the image’s location. This approach makes sense when the image was created by the article’s author(s).
|Format||Author last name, First name. “Article Title.” Journal Name, vol. Volume, no. Issue, Month Year, pp. Page Range, DOI or URL.|
|Works Cited entry||Abrahms, Max, et al. “Explaining Civilian Attacks: Terrorist Networks, Principal-Agent Problems and Target Selection.” Perspectives on Terrorism, vol. 12, no. 1, Feb. 2018, pp. 23–45, www.jstor.org/stable/26343744.|
|In-text citation||(Abrahms et al., fig. 2, p. 30)|
Where the image is not by the author(s) of the article, it’s better to list details of the image followed by the usual details for a journal article.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Image Title. or Description of image. Year. “Article Title,” by Author first name Last name, Journal Name, vol. Volume, no. Issue, Month Year, pp. Page Range, DOI or URL, p. Page number of image.|
|Works Cited entry||Rembrandt. View of Amsterdam. 1640. “Art in Social Studies: Exploring the World and Ourselves with Rembrandt,” by Iftikhar Ahmad, The Journal of Aesthetic Education, vol. 42, no. 2, Summer 2008, pp. 19–37, www.jstor.org/stable/25160276, p. 26.|
Frequently asked questions about MLA citations
- When do I need to include an image citation in MLA style?
Whenever you refer to an image created by someone else in your text, you should include a citation leading the reader to the image you’re discussing.
If you include the image directly in your text as a figure, the details of the source appear in the figure’s caption. If you don’t, just include an in-text citation wherever you mention the image, and an entry in the Works Cited list giving full details.
- How do I cite a source with no title in MLA style?