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APA Style Guide: Images

This guide is designed to help students learn about APA style and cite sources for their research.

Quick Tips

There are special requirements for using clip art and stock images in APA Style papers.

Common sources for stock images and clip art are iStock, Getty Images, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, Pixabay, and Flickr. Common sources for clip art are Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint.

The license associated with the clip art or stock image determines how it should be credited.

  • Sometimes the license indicates no reference or attribution is needed, in which case writers can reproduce the image without any reference, citation, or attribution in an APA Style paper.
  • Other times, the license indicates that credit is required to reproduce the image, in which case writers should write an APA Style copyright attribution and reference list entry.

Follow the terms of the license associated with the image you want to reproduce. The guidelines apply regardless of whether the image costs money to purchase or is available for free. The guidelines also apply to both students and professionals and to both papers and PowerPoint presentations.

Although for most images you must look at the license on a case-by-case basis, images and clip art from programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint can be used without attribution. By purchasing the program, you have purchased a license to use the clip art and images that come with the program without attribution.

Clip Art or Stock Images

Image with no attribution required.

If the license associated with clip art or a stock image states “no attribution required,” then do not provide an APA Style reference, in-text citation, or copyright attribution.

For example, this image of a cat comes from Pixabay and has a license that says the image is free to reproduce with no attribution required. To use the image as a figure in an APA Style paper, provide a figure number and title and then the image. If desired, describe the image in a figure note. In a presentation (such as a PowerPoint presentation), the figure number, title, and note are optional.

 

Figure 1 A Striped Cat Sits With Paws Crossed
Note. Participants assigned to the cute pets condition saw this image of a cat.

Image that requires an attribution

If the license associated with clip art or a stock image says that attribution is required, then provide a copyright attribution in the figure note and a reference list entry for the image in the reference list. Many (but not all) images with Creative Commons licenses require attribution.

For example, this image of a sled dog comes from Flickr and has a Creative Commons license (specifically, CC BY 2.0). The license states that the image is free to use but attribution is required.

To use the image as a figure in an APA Style paper, provide a figure number and title and then the image. Below the image, provide a copyright attribution in the figure note. In a presentation, the figure number and title are optional but the note containing the copyright attribution is required.

The copyright attribution is used instead of an in-text citation. The copyright attribution consists of the same elements as the reference list entry, but in a different order (title, author, date, site name, URL), followed by the name of the Creative Commons License.


Figure 1 Lava the Sled Dog
Note. From Lava [Photograph], by Denali National Park and Preserve, 2013, (Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/denalinps/8639280606/). CC BY 2.0

Also provide a reference list entry for the image. The reference list entry for the image consists of its author, year of publication, title, description in brackets, and source (usually the name of the website and the URL). (As noted above)
 

Example of Reference:
Denali National Park and Preserve. (2013). Lava [Photograph]. Flickr.
       https://www.flickr.com/photos/denalinps/8639280606/
 

Examples of In-Text Citations:
Parenthetical citation:
(Denali National Park and Preserve, 2013)
 

Narrative citation:
Denali National Park and Preserve (2013)

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