Citing a Screenshot

Citing a Screenshot

When you take a screenshot you create an exact visual copy of another person's work and therefore you are required to cite the source of your image. If your screenshot is of a website, an online publication, software, or video game, cite the source as you would cite it for other content with an additional notation “screenshot by author." If you are using a preexisting screenshot from a blog or article, cite the original source as you do for other images.

You must check whether your use of the screenshot requires you to seek permission. Things to consider are:

  • The extent to which you plan to use it: Is it personal reference? Are you using it in a presentation? Will this presentation be added to a digital repository and therefore become infinitely copy-able? Are you putting this screenshot on a website? Etc.
  • You must refer to the policies of the creator(s) if you are taking a screenshot of software or a website. Google and Microsoft both have policies concerning the use of screenshots.
  • For an online publication, you must refer to the publisher's or author's requirements.1

Please note: If you cannot find all of the information used in the examples below or the examples don’t quite fit the image you are citing, then use the examples as a guide to refer to the image and its source as accurately and unambiguously as possible.

Example of APA style figure caption for a screenshot created by the author:Screenshot of Google map image of Tver, Russia
Figure 1. Google Maps. (n.d.). Tver, Tver Oblast, Russia. Map data ©2017 Google. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Tver,+Tver+Oblast,+Russia/@56.8595547,35.7493885,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x46b687ab1d6c94f3:0xf42b3a95f433bc9c!8m2!3d56.8587214!4d35.9175965. Screenshot by author.

Example of MLA style figure caption for screenshot taken from a website:Screenshot of urban scene from the video game "Mirror's Edge Catalyst"
Fig 1. Screenshot of an urban scene taken by Duncan Harris from the video game Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Electronic Arts, 2016. Harris, Duncan, "Glass Ensemble,” Dead End Thrills, barbarella.deadendthrills.com/imagestore/DET3/mirrorsedgecatalyst/large/glassensemble.png.

  • When using a screenshot found online always check the site’s terms of use. Duncan Harris, the creator of Dead End Thrills specifies that the images on his website are “free to download and use in non-profit ventures such as blogs, dissertations, lectures and profile pages.” See Dead End Thrills “about” page.

1. Adapted from Simon Fraser University’s “What do I need to know about using and citing screen shots?” From Simon Fraser University Library, Library Citation + Style Guides, accessed March 9, 2016, http://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/cite-write/citation-style-guides/using-citing-screenshot.

Content last updated: May 10, 2019