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How to Cite an Image in MLA Style

Images, like text, require proper attribution. If an image is not your own original creation, it must be cited. This includes photographs, drawings, charts, and any other visual content that enhances your work but is sourced from elsewhere.

There are several scenarios where citing an image is necessary:

  • Direct Use: When you directly include an image in your work.
  • Adaptations: When you modify an image.
  • Referencing: When you refer to an image’s content in your text.

Elements of an MLA Citation for Images

Basic Components of a Citation

An MLA image citation typically includes the following components:

  • Creator’s Name: The artist, photographer, or illustrator.
  • Title of the Image: In italics.
  • Title of the Container: The book, website, or database where the image is found.
  • Publication Information: Publisher and date of publication.
  • Location: Page number, URL, or DOI.

Differences Between Online and Print Images

Online images require additional details such as the URL and access date. Print images, on the other hand, focus more on the physical publication details like page numbers and publisher information.

Citing an Image from a Book

To cite an image from a book, follow these steps:

  • Identify the creator of the image.
  • Find the title of the image, if available.
  • Note the title of the book.
  • Include the publisher’s name.
  • Record the publication date.
  • Add the page number where the image appears.


Smith, John. Sunset Over Mountains. Nature’s Beauty, edited by Jane Doe, Publisher Name, 2020, p. 45.

Citing an Image from a Website

When citing an image from a website, gather the following:

  • Creator’s name.
  • Title of the image.
  • Title of the website.
  • Publisher of the website.
  • URL.
  • Date of access.


Doe, Jane. Ocean Waves. Beautiful Landscapes, Accessed 5 June 2024.

Citing an Image from a Database

Databases often provide extensive information for citations. Ensure you note the creator, title of the image, database name, publisher, and DOI or URL.

Example Citations

Johnson, Emily. Ancient Ruins. Artstor, Accessed 5 June 2024.

Citing an Image from Social Media

Social media images require attention to detail regarding usernames and platform specifics. Always include the handle and the platform name, along with the image title and URL.

Example Citations

@artist123. Morning Dew. Instagram, 5 June 2024,

Formatting Your MLA Image Citation

Placement of the Citation in Your Paper

Citations should be placed close to the image in your text, typically in the caption or in parentheses following the image.

Integrating Citations with Text

When discussing an image in your text, mention the creator and image title within the narrative. Follow this with an in-text citation.

Using In-Text Citations for Images

In-text citations for images should align with the full citation in your Works Cited list. This includes the creator’s last name and a brief title.

Useful Tools and Resources for Accurate Citations

For streamlined and accurate citations, consider using our tool WriterBuddy. It simplifies the citation process, ensuring you stay compliant with MLA standards.


When should I cite an image in MLA style?

You should cite an image in MLA style whenever you include an image that you did not create yourself, whether it is used directly, modified, or referenced in your text.

What are the basic components of an MLA image citation?

An MLA image citation typically includes the creator’s name, title of the image, title of the container (book, website, database), publication information, and location (page number, URL, DOI).

How do I cite an image from a social media platform in MLA style?

To cite an image from social media, include the creator’s handle, the image title, the platform name, the date posted, and the URL. For example: @artist123. Morning Dew. Instagram, 5 June 2024,


Citing an image in MLA style requires key details: the creator’s name, image title, the website or source, publication date, and URL. Including these elements ensures your citation is thorough and reliable, providing clear and accurate references for your readers.

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