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Finding & Using Images Online

This research guide will help you to find various types of images on the open web.

Getting Started

Oil on canvas painting of fishes

You are working on an assignment for a class, you find a picture that's perfect for your presentation, you copy and paste it into your slideshow, you're all set because you found it on the internet, right? WRONG. You need to create a citation for that image just as you would for a journal article. 
 

We understand that determining whether or not you can use an image (and in what capacity) can be difficult, that is why we are here to help. To understand how/what images you can use you must learn these four terms: copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain. Look at the pages in this research guide for definitions and examples of each.

 

"Fishes" by Amelia Peláez del Casal from Artstor.


Helpful Tips:

  • Always provide a citation or attribution for your images; if you don't, it is a form of plagiarism.

Citations (in MLA format) look like this and go in your bibliography:

Peláez del Casal, Amelia. Fishes. 1943. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Artstor,

library-artstor-org.ezproxyness.helmlib.org/#/asset/AMOMA_10312310941

Attributions look like this and typically go directly underneath your image:

"Fishes" by Amelia Peláez del Casal from Artstor.

  • Always be sure to follow licensing guidelines. Simply attributing an image to an artist may not be enough.
  • Never list the search engine as the creator of the image. You may have found the image by searching with Google Images, but Google Images did not create the image.
  • Pay attention to image sizes. It is much easier to make a large image small than it is to make a small image large.

Citing Images

Images follow a different citation style than other kinds of text-based works (like books and articles) but do still need to be cited. Just giving a hyperlink to where you found an image online is NOT enough. In your bibliography, you'll want to include as much of the information below as you can:

  • Artist or creator’s name or username, last name first
  • Title of the work, in italics
  • Date of creation
  • Medium of the work
  • Institution or city in which the work is located
  • Website or database name
  • Medium of publication
  • Date of access

Each citation style formats image citations a bit differently, so be sure you are using the correct format for your assignment.

An APA citation for a work of art will typically look like this:

Artist, A. A. (Date of creation). Title of artwork: Capitalize the first word of a subtitle [Description of artwork]. Website/Database Name, Website/Database URL (do not use a permalink to the piece of art if it requires the user to log in. If that is the case simply put the URL of the database itself)

 


From a Museum or a Museum Website:

Artist, A. A. (Date of creation). Title of artwork: Capitalize the first word of a subtitle [Description of artwork]. Museum Name, Museum Location. URL

Chagall, M. (1930s). Village street [Oil on canvas]. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://collections.mfa.org/objects/34267

Gorsline, D. (1940s).  ["Moldy Mary" holding a cantaloupe] [Oil on canvas]. Collection of Charles W. Kaspar, Madison, WI. https://jb.asm.org/content/198/6.cover-expansion


From a database:

Artist, A. A. (Date of creation). Title of artwork: Capitalize the first word of a subtitle [Description of artwork]. Database Name, Database URL (do not use a permalink to the piece of art if it requires the user to log in. If that is the case simply put the URL of the database itself)

 

The following examples were found in various databases, however, note that APA 7 discourages the use of Database names in citations. Additionally, even though the works of art are retrieved from databases, the database states where the images are held. You would cite that as the location instead of the database itself.

 

Chagall, M. (1911). The Yellow Room [Oil on canvas]. Private collection, Switzerland. https://library.artstor.org/

Helicobacter pylori bacterium [Photograph]. (n.d.). Science Photo Library, https://www.sciencephoto.com/

Homer, W. (1909). Right & left [Oil on canvas]. The Granger Collection, https://www.granger.com

Miró, J. (1918). Portrait of Juanita Obrador [Oil on canvas]. Art Institute of Chicago, https://www.artic.edu/

An MLA citation for a work of art will typically look like this:

Artist or username. Title of Artwork. Date the image was created. Medium. Museum, City. Database name or title of site, URL. Date of access*.

 

*as with all MLA citations you do not need to put a date of access if there is a date of creation/publication. 


From a website:

Chagall, Marc. Village Street. 1930s. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, collections.mfa.org/objects/34267.

Gorsline, Douglas. "Moldy Mary" holding a cantaloupe. 1940s. Oil on canvas. Collection of Charles W. Kaspar, Madison, WI. Journal of Bacteriology, American Society for Microbiology, jb.asm.org/content/198/6.cover-expansion.

Helicobacter pylori bacterium. Photograph. Science Photo Librarywww.sciencephoto.com/media/11656/view. Accessed 23 Nov. 2020.

 


From a database:

Chagall, Marc.The Yellow Room. 1911. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Artstorlibrary.artstor.org/#/asset/external/%2FThWdC8hIywtPygxFTx5RngtU3IqeFo%3D.

Homer, Winslow. Right & Left. 1909. Oil on Canvas. The Granger Collection, Britannica ImageQuest
quest.eb.com/search/140_1642437/1/140_1642437/cite.

Miró, Joan. Portrait of Juanita Obrador. 1918. Oil on Canvas. Art Institute of Chicago, Artstorlibrary-artstor-org.ezproxyness.helmlib.org/#/asset/AMICO_CHICAGO_1031150660.


To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA: Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page. Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA: Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.