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How to Cite an Image or Photo in Chicago Manual of Style

To cite an image or photo in Chicago style, you need the creator’s name, image title, date of origin, and the source of the image, in that specific order. These are the necessary parts for how to cite an image in Chicago style, although there are variations depending on what and how you’re citing (explained below). 

Most Chicago Manual of Style citations for images use the following formula, according to the most recent 17th edition: 

Last name of creator, First name. Image title. Year of origin. Medium. Source of

image, URL if applicable. 

The “medium” is simply the type of image, such as “Painting,” “Photograph,” or “Table.” The “source of the image” is wherever you saw the image, such as the name of a museum, website, or social media platform. The formula is a little different if you found the image in print, so below we explain in more detail how to cite images from a book in Chicago style. 

In general, though, this formula works when referencing both primary and secondary sources in the bibliography. A complete citation should look like this example: 

Tipton, William. Fortifications on Little Round Top. 1870. Photograph. Library of

Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2018652217.

If you’re familiar with how to write a research paper in Chicago style, you might remember that you have two options for in-text citations: the author-date method and the footnote method. 

The author-date method is the simplest. Just put the image creator’s last name and the year of origin in parentheses, directly in the text after the relevant passage, like this: 

(Last name of creator Year or origin) 

(Tipton 1870)

The footnote system is a little more involved and uses two different types of footnotes, the full note and the short note. 

Use a full note the first time a source is referenced in a paper. For images, the full note mostly follows the same formula as the bibliography entry, except that information is separated by commas instead of periods and the creator’s name is written normally as “First name Last name.” Don’t forget the footnote number at the beginning. 

1. William Tipton, Fortifications on Little Round Top, 1870, photograph, Library of

    Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2018652217.

All other references after the first use a short note. The short note for images follows this format: 

#. Last name of creator, Image title.

In practice, it should look like this: 

1. Tipton, Fortifications on Little Round Top.

That covers the basics of how to cite an image in Chicago style, at least from online sources. However, sources like print media, museums, or art galleries follow different citation guidelines, so below we cover the particular rules for those. At the end, we explain how to reproduce an image in your paper using image captions in Chicago style. 

How to cite images from a text in Chicago style

Images from print media have special concerns for citations. You’re not just citing the creator of the work, but also the author of the book that features the work. 

For the bibliography entry, follow this formula for how to cite images from a book in Chicago style:

Last name of creator, First name. Image title. Year of origin. Medium. In Book title,

by First name Last name of author, page #. Location of publisher:

Publisher name, Year of publication. 

Note that if the book author is the same as the image creator, you only need to list their name once at the beginning. A complete example should look like this: 

del Sarto, Andrea. The Madonna del Sacco. 1525. Painting. In A History of Art for

Beginners and Students: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, by

Clara Erskine Clement, 106. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1887. 

In-text citations using the author-date method follow the same formulas as other sources, like so: 

(del Sarto 1525)

If you’re using the footnote method, your full note should instead follow this formula: 

#. First name Last name of image creator, Image title, Year of origin, medium, in

Book title, by First name Last name of author (Location of publisher:

Publisher name, Year of publication), page number. 

Again, the full note separates information with commas, which is different from bibliography entries that use periods. In practice, it should look like this: 

1. Andrea del Sarto, The Madonna del Sacco, 1525, painting, in A History of Art for

Beginners and Students: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, by

Clara Erskine Clement (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1887), 106. 

How to cite an image from a museum or gallery in Chicago style

You don’t need a copy of an image to use it as a source. The formula for how to cite a photo that you saw in a museum or art gallery in Chicago style is just a small tweak on the original formula we listed at the top: 

Last name of creator, First name. Image title. Year of origin. Medium.

Museum or gallery name, Location. URL if applicable. 

Note that if you viewed the image on a museum’s website, be sure to include the URL at the end of the citation. If you viewed the image in person, no URL is needed. 

In practice, your bibliography citation should look like this: 

Klimt, Gustav. The Kiss. 1909. Painting. Belvedere, Vienna.

sammlung.belvedere.at/objects/6678/der-kuss-liebespaar.

In-text citations in the author-date format follow the standard guidelines: 

(Klimt 1909)

Full notes for citing images from museums follow this formula: 

#. First name Last name of creator, Image title, Year of origin, medium, museum

name, location, URL if applicable. 

1. Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1909, painting, Belvedere, Vienna,

sammlung.belvedere.at/objects/6678/der-kuss-liebespaar.

How to write an image caption in Chicago style

If you want to reproduce someone else’s image in your paper, you have to be careful to avoid different types of plagiarism. A carefully written photo caption in Chicago style adequately credits the original creator, as long as you include all the necessary information. 

For starters, all images in Chicago style are referred to as “figures” and are numbered sequentially as “Fig. 1,” “Fig. 2,” etc. Sometimes you see figures broken up by chapter or section, like “Fig. 1.1,” “Fig. 1.2,” etc. 

After the figure name, the rest of the information follows this formula: 

Fig. #. Image title. Medium by First name Last name of creator, Year of origin.

Source of image, location if applicable. 

In practice, your image caption in Chicago style should look like this: 

Fig. 1. The Kiss. Painting by Gustav Klimt, 1909. Belvedere, Vienna.

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