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Waidner-Spahr Library

Art & Art History: Citing Images in MLA Style

Captions in MLA Style

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 4.5

Visual material should be labeled as Figure and assigned a number in increasing order starting with 1. The caption should be placed below the illustration and include a citation to the source material. It also may be appropriate to add copyright information at the end of the citation. No additional citation is needed when the source is not cited within the text of the paper. If you are creating captions for works of art also see guidelines from the Art Bulletin and College Art Association.

Fig. 1. Manticore, woodcut from Edward Topsell, The History of the Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents…(London, 1658; 344); rpt. In Konrad Gesner, Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts (New York: Dover, 1971; print; 8).

Fig. 2. John Singleton Copley, Mrs. Joseph Mann (Bethea Torrey), 1753, Oil on canvas, 91.44 X 71.75 cm. (36 X 28 ¼ in.). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing about Art (Boston: Pearson, 2011; print; 143).

If work is being published include copyright information, ie who owns the right to publish the image or work of art.

Citing a Cartoon

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 5.7.9

Citation should conform to the medium in which you find the cartoon or comic strip, e.g., newspaper, magazine article, book, or website. Add the descriptive label Cartoon or Comic strip between the title and name of publication.

Chast, Roz. “Scenes from a Vacation.” Cartoon. New Yorker 31 Oct. 2011: 66-67. Print.

Weiner, Zach. “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.” Comic strip. N.p., 17 Nov. 2011.

         Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <>.

More Information

Citing Images in MLA Style


Cite these as you would for the resource in which the visual media is found. For specific works of art, see the section. Cite following the guidelines for the type of resource, but make a note of where the visual is included in the resource, ie page or figure number. Cite the creator of the image as the author and the title of the image instead of an article title.

Image in an Article:

Talbot, David. "Saving Holland." Technology Review 110.4 (2007): 52, figure 3. Print.

Vermeer, Dura. "High and Dry Concept." Technology Review 110.4 (2007): 56. Print.

Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. “An Arrowhead, Made from a Copper Nugget, Found at a Melting

         Alaskan Glacier.” Miller-McCune 3.6 (2010): 23, figure 4. Print.

Online Image:

If citing an image found using Google images, cite the original source – not Google.

Estrin, James. “A Worshiper at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.” New York Times.

         New York Times. 27 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2011. <


When citing a work of art, include the location of the piece and the owner or collection where it is housed along with the medium and size. See also captions and citing works of art below.

Dior, Christian. May. 1953. Silk. Length at CB ((a) to waist): 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm) Length at CB (b): 45 1/2

         in. (115.6 cm). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. N.d. Web. 4 Jan. 2012.


Image or Photograph from a Book:

Gruen, Bob. “Madison Square Garden, July 1972.” Life. By Keith Richard with James Fox. New York:

         Little, Brown and Company, 2010. Color plate 12. Print.

“Equality and Affection: Matched Costumes in ‘My One and Only Highland Fling.’” Astaire & Rogers.

         By Edward Gallafent. New York: Columbia University Press. 225. Print

Citing a Work of Art

Work of Visual Art including Photographs in a Museum Collection:

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 5.7.6 – see also citing a website if you are citing an image from the web.

MLA does not require you to include the dimensions, but it is safer to include it when citing for art and art history. Also see guidelines from the Art Bulletin and College Art Association.

Artist. Title of Work. Date of Composition or N.d. Medium. Dimensions. Collection. City where located.

Calder, Alexander. Untitled. 1976. Aluminum and steel. 910.3 x 2315.5 cm (358 3/8 x 911 5/8 in.).

         National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Heckman, Albert. Windblown Trees. N.d. Lithograph on paper. 11 3/8 x 16 1/8 in.

         (28.9 x 40.8 cm). Private collection.

If you use a reproduction include the publication information of where the reproduction is found and page, figure, or plate number.

Munch, Edvard. The Scream. 1893. Oil, pastel and casein on cardboard. 91 x 73.5 cm. National

         Gallery, Oslo. Edvard Munch: The Scream. Ed. Reinhold Heller. New York: Viking Press,

         1973. 57. Print.

Pollock, Jackson. Number 27. 1950. Oil on canvas. 49 x 106 in. Whitney Museum of American

         Art, New York. Imagining America: Icons of 20th-Century American Art. By John Carlin and

         Jonathan Fineberg. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. 106. Print.