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Finding and Using Images: Citing Images

This guide is intended to help you search for images to use in your projects and research. It is not a comprehensive list of image resources but rather an introduction to the process of locating appropriate images.

Why Citation Matters

Properly citing sources protects against plagiarism.

  • Plagiarism is using someone else's work without giving them credit. This is a form of academic dishonesty that is considered a serious offense and is handled under SAIT policies.
  • Properly citing a work is essential in an academic community but does not protect against copyright infringement.


The boxes below show examples of how to cite images in APA and IEEE citation styles.  

How to Cite Images in APA

Figures and images adapted from other sources require a reference list citation according to the type of source being cited, but require a figure number, caption, and copyright attribution in place of the in-text citation.

Begin the caption with the word "Figure" and a number, provide your own caption for the image, and then insert the image below. Follow this with a copyright attribution statement.

Example of In-Text Copyright Attribution:

Figure 1

Proper Desk Setup

Note. Adapted from Making the office safe, by Larry Smith, 2016, Pearson Publishers.


Exceptions to the Copyright Act typically allows you to include images in your course assignments without obtaining prior permission from the copyright holder. Images that are in the public domain or listed as "no attribution required" do not require a copyright attribution. It is good practice to seek out permission to use an image and to consistently attribute images in your work.

These guidelines vary from what is expected in the Business Report Writing Guidelines. Check with your instructor to clarify their expectations for attributing images.

Reference List Format for Online Images in APA

  Template Example
In-text citation (Author Surname, year of publication) (Baumel, 2010)
Reference list entry Artist Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (Year of publication). Title of the image [Format]. Title of Website. URL Baumel, A. (2010). Cholera treatment center in Haiti [Online image]. Doctors Without Borders.

Citing from a source like a book or journal? Cite the image according to the source format - see the APA Guide for templates and examples.

How to Cite Images using IEEE

A reference for a figure appears as a caption underneath the figure that you copied or adapted for your paper. Begin the caption with the word "Figure", a number, and a title. Follow this with "Source" and the citation number in brackets.  If you adapted the figure, begin the citation with "Adapted from" followed by the citation number in brackets.


Figure 1: Wind Turbine
Source: Adapted from [2]


  • Number figures and tables separately.
  • Looking for images that have an appropriate licence for use in your project? Check out the Finding Images guide.

IEEE Citation, Continued

To create a citation for a table, chart, or image within the list of references, list the citation number and cite according to the format for the type of source where you found the image (e.g., image found in book would be cited in the book format).

For specific examples of formatting citations for different types of works, go to the books, articles, or websites sections of the IEEE Citation Style Guide.

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