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Rhode Island School of Design

How to Cite Images

A guide to various ways of citing and captioning images.

MLA Style

MLA Caption Style

  • When citing an image, the caption should be labeled as Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.), assigned a number, and given a title or caption
  • For images found in a book or journal, include the publication information of the text.
  • A caption ordinarily appears directly below the illustration and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper.
  • Captions should be numbered consecutively.

Fig. 1. Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, Wichita Art Museum. Illus. in Novelene Ross, Toward an American Identity: Selections from the Wichita Art Museum Collection of American Art (Wichita, Kansas: Wichita Art Museum, 1997) 107.

Source: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook. 8th ed.
New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

Additional Sources

MLA Style Center

Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA Format

MLA Handbook (8th Ed) in the library

Citing Unidentified Images

When all or part of an image source is unknown or unknowable, use these points to guide your MLA image caption:

Unknown Artist, Author or Creator
List that source by title in your works cited list. The title should be followed by the name of the source in the citation, and the remainder of the citation composed as appropriate for the source type. Alphabetize reference list entries beginning with a title using the primary word of the title (excluding a, an, or the).

An Image without a Title
If an image is not titled, create a brief, descriptive title for it. Do not italicize this title or place it in quotes, and capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns.

Undated Sources
Use "n.d." (for "no date") in the appropriate place in your citation. When this is used after a period in a citation, capitalize the "n" ("N.d.").

Sources consulted:
MLA Citation Examples University of Maryland University Colleges Libraries

Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Archives of American Art