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Arts and Design Citing Figures

This subject guide covers the topics related to the Arts and Design faculty.

Figure citing resources:

Definition and General Rules:

Figures: anything included in your document that isn't a text or a table such as: graphs, photographs, illustrations and charts.

General rules when dealing with figures:

  1. There are two options for the placement of figures in a paper:

    A) The first option is to place all figures on separate pages after the reference list.

    B) The second option is to embed each figure within the text.

  2. Each figure needs to be numbered in the order in which they appear in the document.
  3. Provide each figure with a brief but explanatory title. This should appear next to the figure number.
  4. For any images that are not your own work, place a caption under the image and include a full citation in your reference list. (A caption should be included at the bottom of the figure to acknowledge that the figure has been reproduced from another source.)

The caption should include:

  • The word Figure (with a capital letter and in italics)
  • A number (from 1, in numerical order)
  • A title for the figure. If there is no title in the original source add a brief description of the work
  • An in text citation for the reference of the source (if not your own work), which includes the Author(s), date and page number for the source, i.e. (Smith, 2010, p.13). Start the citation with the word Source:
  • In-text citations are used as captions.
  • In the text of your paragraphs, refer to your images by their figure number

For example:

Figure 1 shows that..

As can be seen in Figure 2…

5. If you reproduce or adapt a figure from another source (e.g., an image you found on the internet), you should include a copyright attribution in the figure note, indicating the origin of the reproduced or adapted material, in addition to a reference list entry for the work. Include a permission statement (Reprinted or adapted with permission) only if you have sought and obtained permission to reproduce or adapt material in your figure. A permission statement is not required for material in the public domain or openly licensed material.

Using your own images:

If the picture is your own, then there is no need to include a citation or a reference, but you need to use a caption. 

The caption includes:

  • Figure # above the photograph/figure.
  • title in italics beneath the figure #
  • description of the photograph under the photo
  • year you took the photograph, following the description.


Figure 1

The BUE Library

A picture of the BUE library's entrance

An image of the BUE library's entrance. 2021

When you want to refer to it you just refer to it by its figure number.


Figure 1 shows that ……

As mentioned in Figure 1 ……

Using figures for a presentation or an assignment:

1- From the Internet:

  • If the image can be accessed separately, cite as an independent source.
  • Otherwise, cite the source of the image. (The website or the image search).

Citation format: 

Artist/Owner & Artist/Owner (if there is more than one owner). (Year). Title (or Description of it if there is no title) [format e.g: image, photograph etc.]. Retrieved from –insert url here-


A picture of the Mona Lisa portrait

Figure 2. The Mona Lisa. (Leonardo da Vinci, 1503)

Reference list: Leonardo da Vinci. (1503-19). The Mona Lisa. [Image]. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica

2- Citing images and figures from books and articles:

Treat figures taken from a book chapter or a journal article the same as you would to direct quotes.

Put the in-text citation in the image caption between brackets including:

(Author/Owner, year of publishing, page number)

And then add the reference in the reference list. You can use the cite option in the Search-in-all to get the reference of the book you're taking the figure from. 



Figure 3. Advisory arts committee members. (National Art Council, 2019, p. 26)

Reference list: Sarah Jennings. (2019). Art and Politics : The History of the National Arts Centre, Second Edition: Vol. Second edition. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Citing figures to be used in a published work:

There is a difference between using an image made by someone else in your presentation or assignment and using it in a published work such as: a thesis, a dissertation, an exegesis, or other published work.

General rules for using figures in your published work:

  • First, seek permission from the copyright holder. This permission must be included in the caption, unless the work is in the public domain, or licensed for use with a Creative Commons or other open license.
  • Some Creative Common licensed images forbid from commercial use, so make sure to take that into consideration.
  • While APA style does not specify the inclusion of Creative Commons Licenses, it is standard practice to include both the license and a link to a description of the license when a CC license has been specified by the copyright owners.

1- Figures reproduced or adapted from journal articles:

For the caption use the following format: 

Figure number. Descriptive note. Reprinted [Or adapted] from "Title of article", by "Author –and author- (in case there are two authors), year, journal title, volume (issue), page number. Copyright year by name of copyright holder.

Note: the Journal title and volume are written in italic. 

For the reference list use the default format for articles.


The caption:

Figure 4. Student's study space. Reprinted from "Graduate conversations: Assessing the space needs of graduate students" by K. Kinsley, R. Besara, A. Scheel, G. Colvin, J.E. Brady, & M. Burel, M., 2015, College & Research Libraries, 76(6), 756-770. Copyright 2015 by Kirsten Kinsley, Rachel Besara, Abby Scheel, Gloria Colvin, Jessica Evans Brady, and Melissa Burel, Attribution-NonCommercial ( CC BY-NC.

The reference list:

Kinsley, K., Besara, R., Scheel, A., Colvin, G., Brady, J. E., & Burel, M. (2015). Graduate conversations: Assessing the space needs of graduate students. College & Research Libraries, 76(6), 756-770. doi:10.5860/crl.76.6.756

2- Figures reproduced or adapted from books/book chapters:

Use the following format for the caption:

Figure 1. Descriptive note. Reprinted [or Adapted] from Title of book, (p. xx), by A. Author and B. Author, year, Place of publication: Publisher. Copyright year by name of Copyright Holder.

Note: the book title is in italic.

For the reference list use the default citation format.


In the caption:

Figure 5. Pictorial representation of the container system for MLA referencing. Reprinted from MLA Handbook (8th ed., p. 32), by K. Fitzpatrick, 2016, New York, NY: Modern Languages Association of America. Copyright 2016 by the Modern Languages Association of America.

In the reference list:

Fitzpatrick, K. (2016). MLA Handbook (8th ed.). New York, NY: Modern Languages Association of America.

3- Figures reproduced or adapted from Web pages/online documents:

Use the following caption format: 

Web page

Figure #. Descriptive note. Reprinted [or Adapted] from "Title of web page", by A. Author and B. Author, year, Retrieved from URL. Copyright year by name of Copyright Holder.

Online document

Figure #. Descriptive note. Reprinted [or Adapted] from Title of web document, by A. Author and B. Author, year, Retrieved from URL. Copyright year by name of Copyright Holder.


The caption:

Figure 6. Tawny Frogmouth. Reprinted from "Tawny frogmouth whole body", Benjamint444, 2008, Retrieved from Copyright 2008 by Benjamint444 CC-BY-SA-3.0 (

The reference list:

Benjamint444. (2008). Tawny frogmouth whole body [Image]. Retrieved from


  • American Psychological Association. (2019, September). Sample figures. American Psychological Association. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from

  • Auckland University. (n.d.). APA 7th referencing style guide: Figures (graphs and images). Library Guides. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from

  • James Cook University Library. (n.d.). APA (6th edition) Referencing guide: Images & figures. Library Guides. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from
  • University of Queensland. (n.d.). APA 7th referencing style: Figures. Library Guides. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from
  • Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki. (n.d.). Apa referencing 7th ed.: Images. LibGuides. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from
Tags: Arts, Arts and Design, Design, Fashion, Fashion design, Fine arts, Graphic design, Interior architecture, Interior design, Photography, Textile

Subjects: Arts & Design