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Can We Cite Images in Chicago Style Format and How?

Even though Chicago style image citation is far from being new, there are still some recent additions that students tend to use in their research papers like pictures found on Flickr or various diagrams that are available in a certain electronic format. All of this can easily become confusing, yet Chicago’s 17th edition manual covers this part as well, so there is no need to worry!

The tricky side about Chicago images citing is that it seems to be the only format that asks for dimensions of your picture (if it can be located). However, when you have a digital image, do not specify the file’s dimensions. Still, if your picture does not have all the required information, it is recommended to try and locate it elsewhere where the information is provided.

What Information to Look For Chicago Image Citation

The common rule is to include as much information as you possibly can find, including:

  • Name of the creator or organization
  • Title of work in question
  • Date when the image was created
  • Medium (painting, digital image, map, 3D image, etc)
  • Dimensions (if available)
  • Location (for museums) / Collection
  • Publication details if taken from a print source
  • Access date / URL

Basic Rules for Image Citation in Chicago

In case you are only learning how to cite images Chicago style, it is always good to start with the basic structure that will help in understanding what element comes first and what goes after. Still, it must be noted that photo or an image in Chicago writing style rarely appears in a research paper Bibliography, which is why you should only focus on the footnotes. Then most pictures do not have a clear creator (like museum artifacts or maps), which is why it is recommended to start citing with a title when encountering such a case. If it is not possible, just use your description by putting it in square brackets like [a dog with a boy].

Remember that when you do not know the exact date of a painting or an image found on some odd website, citing an image Chicago style requires using “n.d.” instead of just missing the part! The same goes for paintings in a museum that also requires the so-called “medium” part, which is like (pencil drawing) or the typical (oil on canvas) that explains what kind of a source is being referred to.

Here is the basic template: 

1 Author’s First Name and Last Name, Title in italics, Date, Specific Medium, Dimensions (if possible), Location (for a museum) or a Library, (Publication details for your footnotes), Date accessed and URL link if it is online.

See this example for the Footnote / Endnote caption: 

1 Vincent Cavanagh, Distant Satellites, 2011, digital print on paper, 155 x 85 cm., Liverpool University Modern Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK.

The Types of Images You Can Cite

Standard Image Citing


2 Jamie Conrad, Sad Lady with Flowers, 1973, oil on canvas, 150 x 40 cm., Arizona State University Gallery, Phoenix, USA.

Bibliography (although it is not common): 

Jamie Conrad. Sad Lady with Flowers. (Arizona State University Gallery, Phoenix: AZ), 1973.

Image From an Article or Print Book


3 Vietnam War Woes, in Vietnam Memories by John Irwing (New York McMillan Books, 1989), 122.

Bibliography reference: 

Vietnam War Woes. In Vietnam Memories, by John Irwing. New York: McMillan Books, 1989.

Image Coming From The Specialized Database or Digital Library

Chicago photo citation for your note: 

4 “The Great Depression,” graph, National Bank of America Archives, Wall Street Journal Database, June 7, 1931, R5, Digital Image Bank.


“The Great Depression.” Graph, National Bank of America Archives, Wall Street Journal Database, June 7, 1931, R5. Digital Image Bank.

Photo Sharing Websites (Pinterest, Flickr, Smugmug, etc)

5 Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on The Moon, 21 July, 1969, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain, accessed August 27, 2020

In general, when you cite an image Chicago style from a photo-sharing website, it only appears in your notes.

6 Shishkin, Ivan. Morning In a Pine Forest, 1889, oil on canvas, 139 cm x 213 cm, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, accessed August 27, 2020,

Citing artwork Chicago style for those pieces you have seen in person, follow this example:

Footnote citation:

1 Paulo Ferreira, The Cupid’s Tear, 1713, marble, 1.04 m., Paris, The Louvre.


Ferreira, Paulo. The Cupid’s Tear, 1713. Marble, 1.04 m. Paris, The Louvre.

Electronic Resources

When you include anything taken from the electronic resources, it is still necessary to mention all available information with the addition of a source where the image can be obtained. In general, Chicago style photo citation for web images requires adding the source and weblink. For example:

4 Rijksmuseum National Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Accessed July 4, 2020,

Published Photograph Source

Since we talk about a book, our citation source goes to the Bibliography page:

O’Neal, Daniel. “Young Dancer’s Joy” in Irish Modern Art: From Classic Forms to The Avant-Garde 1900-2000. Dublin: Swansea Publishing House, 2005

How to Cite Maps, Charts, Diagram, Graphs, Illustrations in Chicago

Now that we are done with the Chicago style picture citation rules, it is high time to discover the figure captions that are typical for this referencing format. In brief, if you include some figures for maps, charts, various diagrams, graphs, or things like historic artifacts, it is necessary to label them with the “fig. 1” abbreviation. If you have tables, then replace “fig” with the “table” prefix. It is also recommended to add short credits after your caption. Watch out for the copyright restrictions and seek for creative commons sources that are much safer. In any case, always specify the author and obtain the copyright data.

Now in practice, we have this for the in-text part: 

While most journalists ignored the practice, Michael Clemmings was one of the first to incorporate marbles as the way to help total strangers get involved in the news coverage” 1 (fig. 1).

Below our typical image, we include: 

Fig. 1. Michael Clemmings was one of the first to incorporate marbles as the way to help total strangers get involved in the news coverage as it was done in “New York Students Protests in 1961”. Created by Clemmings Art. [c 1961]. From National New York Archive Historical Prints Catalogue.

Why Use Our Chicago Style Image Citation Generator

  • It saves you time when you have over ten different sources to cite.
  • You enter an image link and it automatically picks up what it can find.
  • It generates information automatically, which prevents mistakes that are common when typing unknown names or titles.
  • It helps to keep spacing and indents right with all the italics and full stops.
  • It is completely free and does not have any limitations.
  • You can use it as much as you want without registration or any ads.
  • It also supports books, magazines, websites, and all kinds of citing sources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I do not know the date?

Use “n.d.” instead or consult whether this image appears anywhere else. Use Access Date as well with the source URL.

Can your Chicago Citation Generator work with books by entering the ISBN number where my image appears?

It will help you to obtain book citing information, so you will only have to add your image title and use the “In” prefix before the actual title of your print source.

Should the superscript numbers be used for footnotes?

Yes, they should because it helps your readers to understand the footnote once the superscript number appears in your usual text.

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