APA Bibliographic Entries for Images and Figure Captions

APA Bibliographic Entries for Images and Figure Captions

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. For more information please consult section 10.14 of the official guide to APA style and/or refer to Carleton's guide on using APA

Basic Elements of an APA Style Image Citation

Organization/Creator’s last name followed by comma and first initial. (Year of creation or publication). Title of work [Description or medium]. Retrieval information, publication information or location of work.

  • If there is no creator or organization information then begin the citation with the title. If a creator’s proper name is unknown you can use their screen name.
  • If the title is unknown you can use a description based on the image within square brackets.
  • If there is no date available, use "n.d.," or a date range (1984-1987) or an approximate date (ca. 1917).

APA Citation Examples

These examples are meant to provide guidelines. If the image you want to cite lacks the elements required for a full citation, first check to see if you can find the same image from a more informative source. If no alternative is available, then add as much information as you can to your citation.

APA Reference List Examples

  • Artwork in a gallery or museum seen in-person

Milne, D. (1924). Old R.C.M.P. Barracks [Watercolour]. Ottawa, Ontario: Carleton University Art Gallery.

  • Image from a book or article

Cahén, O. (1952). Cover illustration for Maclean’s, January 15, 1952 [Tearsheet]. In Jaleen Grove, Oscar Cahén: Life & Work. Toronto: Art Canada Institute, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.aci-iac.ca/oscar-cahen/key-works/macleans-cover-illustration

  • Image from a museum or gallery website​

Milne, D. (ca.1912). Billboards [Painting]. National Gallery of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artwork.php?mkey=6432.

  • Image from a specialized database or online image library

Maslowski Photo. (2008). Wood Duck [Photograph]. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library. Retrieved from http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/natdiglib/id/1941/rec/17.

  • Image from an image sharing site like Wikimedia Commons or Flickr

Najjar, A. (2005, April 30). Palmyra Tetrapylon, Syria. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palmyra_Tetrapylon,_Syria.jpg.

APA In-text Citation Example

(Milne, ca.1912)

Note: If the creator is not known then use the title of the work (Billboards, ca. 1912), and if the title is not known then be sure to use the information that comes first in the full citation from your reference list.

APA Figure Reference and Caption

Images in a paper are referred to as figures (including maps, charts, drawings paintings, photographs, and graphs) or tables and are capitalized and numbered sequentially: Figure 1, Table 1, Figure 2, Table 2. Place them as close as possible to their reference in the text. Include the complete citation information in the caption and the reference list. When an image is reproduced always include copyright status or creative commons license details in the caption as required by the source. Please see below for an example:

As evident in the poster If you want it – take it – with a Kodak (Eastman Kodak Co., ca. 1900) a hunter prepares to “shoot” his prey with a camera rather than his rifle making the photographic image of the elk a kind of trophy and a further testament to his hunting prowess (see Figure 1).

Kodak camera advertising poster featuring a hunting scene
Figure 1. Kodak advertisement appealing to the sportsman. Eastman Kodak Co. (ca. 1900).  If you want it – take it – with a Kodak [Poster]. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-90e1-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.

Full citation included in the Reference List

Eastman Kodak Co. (ca. 1900).  If you want it – take it – with a Kodak [Poster]. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-90e1-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.

Additional Resources on APA Citation

Content last reviewed: February 3, 2021