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How to Cite a Picture in MLA

Images and photographs add diversity and visual information that sometimes just isn’t possible with words alone. But, how do you cite a picture and add it to your MLA 8 works cited list? Learn the ins and outs of citing an image in your MLA work and a little about the legalities.

Citation generator

How to Cite a Reproduced Image in Text MLA

Sometimes, it makes sense to reference images visually to prove a point. This is especially true if you’re writing a paper about art or paintings. It can also be true of other humanities type work. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know how to add the picture to your text and then cite it correctly in your MLA paper. Adding original images is a good way to strengthen your primary sources.

Step 1: Discussing the Image in Text

When including the image in the text, refer to the figure through the abbreviation and number: fig. #. For example, if this is your first image, it will be fig. 1. Your 19th image will be fig. 19. This will look something like:

How to Cite an Image In Text MLA

To understand the difference between the contrast, see fig. 1.

Step 2: Picture Caption

For the reproduced image, you include a caption that discusses the picture. This will be followed by the citation information:

How to Cite a Picture In Text MLA

Artist’s name, Work title (italicized), Date, Complete publication information of the source, including page, figure, or plate numbers.

Works that are cited under the image don’t need an additional reference on the works cited page.

labeled figure for MLA online picture

Step 3: Works Cited MLA Citation

There is some vitally important information that you need to include about images. It doesn’t matter if they are scanned or online. The important information to cite the picture is the same, but it might come in a different order for your MLA works cited entry. If available, you need:

  • Artist’s name
  • Title
  • Date created
  • Publisher’s information
  • URL or DOI

Now that you know what you need, breaking down the formatting is a snap. 

How to Cite a Scanned Image MLA

For a scanned image, you need to include where you pulled the scan from.

Format for MLA Scanned Image Citation

Creator’s last name, first name. Title of work in italics. Date. Location. Book title in italics. Author(s), Publisher, Page, figure, or plate numbers.

MLA Scanned Image Citation Example

Raine, Mary. Juvisy France. 1947. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Modern Art, by Jason Daley, Hillsbrook, p. 268.

Online Photograph of Physical Work in MLA

An online photograph of a physical work in MLA includes the URL in addition to the gallery information.

Format for MLA Online Photograph Citation

Creator’s last name, first name. Title of Photograph or Description of the image. Year of creation. Gallery or museum where the image is physically located. URL of the website.

MLA Online Photograph Citation Example

Raine, Mary. Juvisy France. 1947. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/photograph/juvisyfrance.

How to Cite an Online Image in MLA

When you cite an online image, you need the website and the URL.

Format for MLA Online Image Citation

Creator’s last name, first name. Title in italics. Date of creation. Website name in italics, URL of the website.

MLA Online Image Citation Example

Kahlo, Freida. Self Portrait With Monkey. 1938. Detroit Institute of Arts, https://www.dia.org/kahlodalimediakit.

find information online painting for MLA citation

Reference to an Image or Photograph

There may come a time when you reference an image that you do not include as a figure. In this situation, you want to italicize the work title and cite it with the first element in your works cited for online images. For those from books, you want to include page numbers, if available. For example:


The Dance (Rosseau) shows…

Scanned Image:

The Dance (Rosseau 22)

Legalities for Citing Pictures

Plagiarism is bad. We all know this to be true. Therefore, if you are going to use an image in your work, you must cite it correctly. This can ensure that you are giving credit where credit is due. It will also ensure that you don’t violate copyright laws by using the image in your writing. However, professional writing that is deemed for publication might need to ensure that using the image will be okay, even with appropriate citing.

How MLA Stands Out

MLA format is designed for writing about the arts. The way MLA formats in-text citations for figures within papers is designed to make it easy by using the container system. It focuses on the author or creator in the citations to really highlight them. But it is pretty similar to the other styles. MLA 8 says that including access dates to websites is optional. Add an access date to an undated article or image, only if you feel it’s helpful to the reader.

Adding Images and Photographs

Adding images, photographs, and pictures to your paper can be fun. Not only will it break up the monotony, but they make great sources of information. Now that you have mastered how to add them, follow the steps and give it a try.

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