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Using Images and Non-Textual Materials in Presentations, Papers, Theses, and Dissertations

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Documenting and Citing Images/Photographs and Their Sources

Please note that this is advice on best practices and considerations in documenting and citing images and non-print materials. It does not represent legal advice on obtaining permissions.

Generally, images copied from other sources should not be used without permissions in publications or for commercial purposes. Many American academic institutions require graduate students to archive their finished and approved theses/dissertations in institutional electronic repositories and/or institutional libraries and repositories, and/or to post them on Proquest's theses database. Unpublished theses and dissertations are a form of scholarly dissemination. Someone else's images, like someone else's ideas, words or music, should be used with critical commentary, and need to be identified and cited. If a thesis/dissertation is revised for publication,  waivers or permissions from the copyright holder(s) of the images and non-textual materials must be obtained. Best practices also apply to materials found on the internet and on social media, and, properly speaking, require identification, citation, and clearance of permissions, as relevant.

Use the following elements when identifying and citing an image, depending on the information you have available . It is your responsibility to do due diligence and document as much as possible about the image you are using:

  • Artist's/creator's name, if relevant;
  • Title of the work/image, if known, or description;
  • Ownership information (such as a person, estate, museum, library collection) and source of image;
  • Material, if known, particularly for art works;
  • Dimensions of the work, if known.

The Chicago Manual of Style online can be searched for norms on appropriate ways to caption illustrations, capitalize titles of visual works, or cite print materials that contain images.

Including images/photographs in a bibliography:

Best practice is to not include images within a bibliography of works cited. It is common, instead, to create a separate list of images (or figures) and their source, such as photographer (even if it's you) or collection. It may be useful to also include location, e.g., museum, geographic reference, address, etc.

Examples of Documenting Images

The image below is scanned from a published book. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation, classroom session, or  paper/thesis, as follows:

pictures in research paper

[ Figure 1. This photograph from 1990 shows the Monument against Fascism designed by Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, Hamburg, 1986-1993. Image from James Young, ed.,  Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History (New York: Prestel, 1994), 70]

If you need to use this image in a published work, you will have to seek permission. For example, the book from which this image was scanned should have a section on photo credits which would help you identify the person/archive holding this image.

The image below was found through Google Images and downloaded from the internet. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation,  classroom session, or paper/thesis, as follows:

pictures in research paper

[Figure 2. This image shows the interior of Bibliotheca Alexandrina designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta in 2001. Image downloaded from https://mgkhs.com/gallery/alexandria in March 2016.]

If you want to use this image in a published work, you will have to do your best to track down its source to request permission to use. The web site or social media site where you found the image may not be an appropriate source, since it is common for people to repost images without attribution. Just because "everyone does it" does not mean that you should be using such materials without attribution or documentation. In this specific example, you may need to write to the photographer or to the architecture firm. If you have done due diligence and were unable to find the source, or have not received a response, you may be able to use an image found on the internet with appropriate documentation in a publication.

The image below was downloaded from a digitized historic collection of photographs held by an institutional archive. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation,  classroom session, or paper/thesis, as follows:

pictures in research paper

[Figure 3. In the 1920s the urban landscape of Los Angeles started to change, as various developers began building multi-family apartment houses in sections previously zoned for single family dwellings. Seen in this photograph by Dick Whittington is the Warrington apartment building, which was completed in 1928, surrounded by older single family structures. Downloaded from the USC Digital Library in February 2016]

I f you plan to use this photograph in a publication, seek permission from the library/institution from whose digital archive you downloaded the image. Contact information is usually found in the record for the image.

The image below was taken by the author. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation, classroom session , paper/thesis, or a publication* as follows:

pictures in research paper

[Figure 4. Genex Tower, also known as West City Gate, is a residential tower located in New Belgrade. This example of late 20th century brutalist-style architecture was designed in 1977 by Mihajlo Mitrović. Photographed by the author in 2013.]

*Please note, if you re-photographed someone else's photograph or a work of art, or if you re-photographed a published image, you may not be able to publish your photograph without first seeking permission or credit for its content.  If you have done due diligence and were unable to find the source or have not received a response, you may be able to use your image with appropriate documentation.

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SciSpace Resources

How to cite images and graphs in your research paper

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents


If you are confused about whether you should include pictures, images, charts, and other non-textual elements in your research paper or not, I would suggest you must insert such elements in your research paper. Including non-textual elements like images and charts in the research paper helps extract a higher acceptance of your proposed theories.

An image or chart will make your research paper more attractive, interesting, explanatory, and understandable for the audience. In addition, when you cite an image or chart, it helps you describe your research and its parts with far more precision than simple, long paragraphs.

There are plenty of reasons why you should cite images in your research paper. However, most scholars and academicians avoid it altogether, losing the opportunity to make their research papers more interesting and garner higher readership.

Additionally, it has been observed that there are many misconceptions around the use or citation of images in research papers. For example, it is widely believed and practiced that using pictures or any graphics in the research papers will render it unprofessional or non-academic. However, in reality, no such legit rules or regulations prohibit citing images or any graphic elements in the research papers.

You will find it much easier once you know the appropriate way to cite images or non-textual elements in your research paper. But, it’s important to keep in mind some rules and regulations for using different non-textual elements in your research paper. You can easily upgrade your academic/ research writing skills by leveraging various guides in our repository.

In this guide, you will find clear explanations and guidelines that will teach you how to identify appropriate images and other non-textual elements and cite them in your research paper. So, cut the clutter; let’s start.

Importance of citing images in a research paper

Although it’s not mandatory to cite images in a research paper, however, if you choose to include them, it will help showcase your deep understanding of the research topic. It can even represent the clarity you carry for your research topic and help the audience navigate your paper easily.


There are several reasons why you must cite images in your research paper like:

(i) A better explanation for the various phenomenon

While writing your research paper, certain topics will be comparatively more complex than others. In such a scenario where you find out that words are not providing the necessary explanation, you can always switch to illustrating the process using images. For example, you can write paragraphs describing climate change and its associated factors and/or cite a single illustration to describe the complete process with its embedded factors.

(ii) To simplify examples

To create an impeccable research paper, you need to include evidence and examples supporting your argument for the research topic. Rather than always explaining the supporting evidence and examples through words, it will be better to depict them through images. For example, to demonstrate climate change's effects on a region, you can always showcase and cite the “before and after” images.

(iii) Easy Classification

If your research topic requires segregation into various sub-topics and further, you can easily group and classify them in the form of a classification tree or a chart. Providing such massive information in the format of a classification tree will save you a lot of words and present the information in a more straightforward and understandable form to your audience.

(iv) Acquire greater attention from the audience

Including images in your research paper, theses, and dissertations will help you garner the audience's greater attention. If you add or cite images in the paper, it will provide a better understanding and clarification of the topics covered in your research. Additionally, it will make your research paper visually attractive.

Types of Images that you can use or cite in your research paper

Using and citing images in a research paper as already explained can make your research paper more understanding and structured in appearance. For this, you can use photos, drawings, charts, graphs, infographics, etc. However, there are no mandatory regulations to use or cite images in a research paper, but there are some recommendations as per the journal style.

Before including any images in your research paper, you need to ensure that it fits the research topic and syncs with your writing style. As already mentioned, there are no strict regulations around the usage of images. However, you should make sure that it satisfies certain parameters like:

  • Try using HD quality images for better picture clarity in both print and electronic formats
  • It should not be copyrighted, and if it is, you must obtain the license to use it. In short cite the image properly by providing necessary credits to its owner
  • The image should satisfy the context of the research topic

You can cite images in your research paper either at the end, in between the topics, or in a separate section for all the non-textual elements used in the paper. You can choose to insert images in between texts, but you need to provide the in-text citations for every image that has been used.

Additionally, you need to attach the name, description and image number so that your research paper stays structured. Moreover, you must cite or add the copyright details of the image if you borrow images from other platforms to avoid any copyright infringement.

Graphs and Charts

You can earn an advantage by providing better and simple explanations through graphs and charts rather than wordy descriptions. There are several reasons why you must cite or include graphs and charts in your research paper:

  • To draw a comparison between two events, phenomena, or any two random parameters
  • Illustration of statistics through charts and graphs are most significant in drawing audience attention towards your research topic
  • Classification tree or pie charts goes best to show off the degree of influence of a specific event, or phenomenon in your research paper

With the usage of graphs and charts, you can answer several questions of your readers without them even questioning. With charts and graphs, you can provide an immense amount of information in a brief yet attractive manner to your readers, as these elements keep them interested in your research topic.

Providing these non-textual elements in your research paper increases its readability. Moreover, the graphs and charts will drive the reader’s attention compared to text-heavy paragraphs.

You can easily use the graphs or charts of some previously done research in your chosen domain, provided that you cite them appropriately, or else you can create your graphs through different tools like Canva, Excel, or MS PowerPoint. Additionally, you must provide supporting statements for the graphs and charts so that readers can understand the meaning of these illustrations easily.

Similarly, like pictures or images, you can choose one of the three possible methods of placement in your research paper, i.e., either after the text or on a different page right after the corresponding paragraph or inside the paragraph itself.

How to Cite Images and Graphs in a Research Paper?


Once you have decided the type of images you will be using in your paper, understand the rules of various journals for the fair usage of these elements. Using pictures or graphs as per these rules will help your reader navigate and understand your research paper easily. If you borrow or cite previously used pictures or images, you need to follow the correct procedure for that citation.

Usage or citation of pictures or graphs is not prohibited in any academic writing style, and it just differs from each other due to their respective formats.

Cite an Image/Graphs in APA (American Psychological Association) style

Most of the scientific works, society, and media-based research topics are presented in the APA style. It is usually followed by museums, exhibitions, galleries, libraries, etc. If you create your research paper in APA style and cite already used images or graphics, you need to provide complete information about the source.

In APA style, the list of the information that you must provide while citing an element is as follows:

  • Owner of the image (artist, designer, photographer, etc.)
  • Complete Date of the Image: Follow the simple DD/MM/YYYY to provide the details about the date of the image. If you have chosen a certain historical image, you can choose to provide the year only, as the exact date or month may be unknown
  • Country or City where the Image was first published
  • A Name or Title of the Image (Optional: Means If it is not available, you can skip it)
  • Publisher Name: Organization, association, or the person to whom the image was first submitted

If you want to cite some images from the internet, try providing its source link rather than the name or webpage.

Format/Example of Image Citation:

Johanson, M. (Photographer). (2017, September, Vienna, Austria. Rescued bird. National gallery.

Cite an Image/Graphs in MLA (Modern Language Association) style

MLA style is again one of the most preferred styles worldwide for research paper publication. You can easily use or cite images in this style provided no rights of the image owner get violated. Additionally, the format or the information required for citation or usage is very brief yet precise.

In the MLA style, the following are the details that a used image or graph must carry:

  • Name of the creator of the owner
  • Title, Name, or the Description of the Image
  • Website Or the Source were first published
  • Contributors Name (if any)
  • Version or Serial Number (if any)
  • Publisher’s Details; at least Name must be provided
  • Full Date (DD:MM: YYYY) of the first published Image
  • Link to the original image

Auteur, Henry. “Abandoned gardens, Potawatomi, Ontario.” Historical Museum, Reproduction no. QW-YUJ78-1503141, 1989, www.flickr.com/pictures/item/609168336/

Final Words

It is easy to cite images in your research paper, and you should add different forms of non-textual elements in the paper. There are different rules for using or citing images in research papers depending on writing styles to ensure that your paper doesn’t fall for copyright infringement or the owner's rights get violated.

No matter which writing style you choose to write your paper, make sure that you provide all the details in the appropriate format. Once you have all the details and understanding of the format of usage or citation, feel free to use as many images that make your research paper intriguing and interesting enough.

If you still have doubts about how to use or cite images, join our SciSpace (Formerly Typeset) Community and post your questions there. Our experts will address your queries at the earliest. Explore the community to know what's buzzing and be a part of hot discussion topics in the academic domain.

Learn more about SciSpace's dedicated research solutions by heading to our product page. Our suite of products can simplify your research workflows so that you can focus more on what you do best: advance science.

With a best-in-class solution, you can handle everything from literature search and discovery to profile management, research writing, and formatting.

But Before You Go,

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One easy way to include science images in your manuscripts is to download and customize them for your figures.

When downloading images from the internet to use in your scientific papers and presentations, you need to be careful that they match the copyright, resolution, and sizing rules that allow them to be used in academic journals. This science image guide provides tips to help you choose the right kinds of files that you can use to create your own impressive designs.

Which image format is best for research papers?

There are two categories of images that can be used for scientific publications: editable and uneditable. Editable images that can be fully customized and scaled without losing resolution are called vector files . Uneditable images don't allow you to adjust the design or color and come in wide range of formats from low to high resolution . Both of these image types can be used in scientific papers as long as you follow the proper copyright and resolution rules. Learn more about these image types and the different uses below.

1. Editable Images

The best kind of science images are editable vector files that allow you to customize the designs to best match the main points of your research. These include image file types such as Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg), Adobe Illustrator (.ai), Affinity Designer (.afdesign), Encapsulated PostScript (.eps), and some files in PowerPoint (.pptx) if they were drawn using PowerPoint shape tools.

Editable image tips:

  • Some scientific journals, such as Science, require that you provide them with figures that are formatted using editable vector files.
  • Be cautious of using images and database tools that only offer limited design customization options such as BioRender. Partially editable images can be difficult to make an illustration that looks professional and seamless with your data and other designs.
  • Vector images have customizable sizes, resolution and transparent backgrounds, so you can always scale the image and insert it into any background.
  • Make sure you follow the copyright rules associated with your image download. Some vector image databases require attribution and others allow you to use them for any purpose.

Editable vector file type summary

How to find editable images: The easiest ways to find editable images is to explore science image databases or use Google search. I recommend using the search terms "drawings", "vector art", or "vector images" paired with the image type keyword.

The example below shows the Google Image search results for "cancer cell drawings" with a variety of different options for downloading different types of science images. You will still need to make sure that the image is available as a vector file type to be fully editable (e.g. SVG, AI, or EPS file types). Most vector images will require some sort of payment or subscription to download the high resolution files and use without copyright issues.

Vector image search results for cancer cell drawings

Click here to view more scientific illustration examples of animals and cell types

2. Uneditable Images

The second best format is uneditable images. Common uneditable image types are PNG, TIFF, or JPEG formats and these can be incorporated into your scientific figures and presentations as long as they have high enough resolution and have copyright rules that allow you to use them in academic publications.

Uneditable image tips:

  • Check the resolution of downloaded images to make sure they are high enough to use in scientific publications without looking grainy or unclear (see the "How to check image resolution" instructions in the section below). 
  • Try to find PNG images with transparent backgrounds to make it easier to incorporate into your scientific figures and posters.
  • Be very careful in checking the source of uneditable images and follow all copyright rules associated with the image. Uneditable image are more likely to have copyright rules associated with them that do not allow their use in scientific journals.

Uneditable file type summary

How to find high resolution and transparent images: The easiest ways to find high resolution and transparent images is to explore science image databases or use Google search. I recommend using the search terms "transparent background" and using the Google "Tools" feature to limit the search for "Large" images.

The examples below shows the Google Large Image search results for "plant cell diagram transparent background" that show a variety of different options for downloading high resolution and transparent science images.

Plant cell image with transparent background example

What image sizes are best for scientific publication?

Size and resolution are important because images need to be high resolution enough to show sharp shapes and lines when it is used in a printed or digital figure. Below are tips on how to choose the right image sizes and resolutions.

Image Resolution

Resolution is the most important aspect of a downloaded image or scientific figure and affects the sharpness of the details. A low-resolution image will have around  72 PPI and high resolution images are at least 300 PPI.

  • Most scientific journals require images and figures to be at least 300 PPI/DPI.
  • The "PPI" stands for Pixels Per Inch and is used when referring to digital file resolution and "DPI" stands for Dots Per Inch and is used for printing resolution.

How to check image resolution:

  • Windows computer: Right-click on the file, select Properties, then Details, and you will see the DPI in the Image section, labeled Horizontal Resolution and Vertical Resolution. 
  • Mac computer: Open the image in Preview and select Tools, then Adjust Size, and find the label Resolution.

High resolution science image summary

The size requirements will depend on how you plan to use the image. Most scientific journals use a maximum figure width of 180mm, so if you only plan to use images in scientific publications, then you only need them large enough to look sharp within a 180 mm wide figure (~600 pixels wide).

If you plan to use the image in presentation or posters slides, you will need to have much larger images to not have resolution issues when shown on a big screen that is 1280 x 720 pixels or printed on a poster that is approximately 48 x 36 inches.

How can I find copyright-free images?

Copyright laws ensure that an image is only used in a way that is approved by the image creator. The best way to ensure that you download images with copyright rules that allow you to use them for academic journal submissions is to read the fine print on the image source. The summary below describes how to find images that are allowed for use in scientific papers.

Copyright License Review

Anyone who creates their own original artwork has the right to be acknowledged as the creator of that image. They automatically own the copyright for the image, which means that legally, they have the right to decide where and how that image can be used. In order to be able to use images in scientific papers, you will need to know what kind of copyright license is being used, which you can usually find by looking for the original source of the image or by reading the fine print of the image database.

Types of copyright licenses for scientific use :

  • Public Domain - Images generally become public domain after 70 years after the creator's death. If the copyright is not renewed on the creator's behalf, the image can become part of the ‘public domain’, and the copyright no longer applies.
  • Creative Commons 4   - You can adapt and share the image in anyway you like, but this license requires attribution, so you will need to include the original creator in the acknowledgements of the research paper, posters, and acknowledged on your presentation slides.
  • Stock Images  - Image databases that allow you to license the designs. Make sure to read the fine print on how you are allowed to use the image (e.g. personal and commercial uses). 

How to find copyright-free images:

  • Look for image databases that have copyright licenses that allow you to use the images "For personal, academic, and commercial projects and to modify it" such as:
  • Simplified Science
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • NOTE: Some copyright-free image databases may still require that you attribute the illustration to the original author in your scientific publication. Read the fine print to make sure you are using the image correctly!
  • Here is an example of Simplified Science Usage Rules for comparison to other image databases.

Copyright symbol

How to use downloaded images in publications?

After downloading images, the next step is to format them into your scientific designs. Two of the most common software tools that scientists use for figure formatting are Adobe Illustrator and PowerPoint. Below are two step-by-step training videos that show you how to use the downloaded images in your scientific publications and graphical abstracts.

Adobe Illustrator Graphical Abstract Tutorial

Adobe Illustrator tutorial that has clear instructions on how to use downloaded images in a figures/graphical abstracts, how to create your own custom illustrations, and how to optimize a line graph in Excel.

PowerPoint Graphical Abstract Tutorial

PowerPoint tutorial that has clear instructions on how to use downloaded images in a figures/graphical abstract, how to create your own custom illustrations in PowerPoint, and how to optimize an Excel bar chart.

Explore More Scientific Images and Templates

Download hundreds of science images and templates for PowerPoint, Adobe illustrator, and other software. This is an image database with completely customizable vector images that are designed for use in scientific graphical abstracts, grants, figures, illustrations, and posters.

Interested in reading more articles on scientific design? Learn more below:

Adobe Illustrator for Scientists symbol

How to Make Scientific Figures and Illustrations with Adobe Illustrator

Simplified Science Publishing Logo

How to Use Simplified Science Publishing Content

Scientific research poster template example

Free Research Poster Templates and Tutorials

Simplified Science Publishing offers graphic design services and data visualization classes. Click on the links below to learn more and contact if you want more information.

Content is protected by Creative Commons Copyright license. Website visitors are welcome to share images and articles but must include the Simplified Science Publishing URL source link when shared. Thank you!

[email protected]

© 2023 Simplified Science Publishing, LLC

Based in Portland, Oregon USA


How to include pictures in a research paper

pictures in research paper

It is often said that a picture can speak more than a thousand words. In all kinds of research papers, pictures are essential in adding to the richness of the literature and analysis because of the valuable insight they can offer. For example, pictures of measured data from statistical applications are very important additions to the “Data presentation and analysis” chapter or section of any research paper.

This is because they help to complement verbal discussions or analysis by offering a visual presentation of the statistical technique used to measure the variables of interest. However, where the researcher is not the originator of such pictures, it is very important to cite the source of the picture according to the prescribed format. In the case of statistical applications mentioned above, for example, be sure to disclose which application generated the picture or printout as well as the version of such an application (e.g., SPSS version 27).   

What is a research paper?

A research paper is a form of academic writing which involves formally investigating a field of knowledge or topic of interest in order to add to the existing stock of knowledge in that field and/or solve a particular problem. Educational research is formal because it is not based on the subjective discretions of the researcher but on an accepted and objective standard such as the scientific method of inquiry. Research papers can be of different types. These include term papers, seminar presentations, undergraduate projects, post-graduate thesis or dissertations, conference/workshop papers, and journal entries, among others.

Though these highlighted papers and others can be structured in diverse ways, conducting research in this context basically requires that the researcher identifies a problem or area of interest; formulates research questions and/or hypothesis; reviews the existing literature in the field; collects, measures and analyzes relevant data; discusses the findings; makes conclusions and recommendations based on the findings and then suggests possible directions for future research.

Some things to consider before including pictures in a research paper

As noted above, pictures can complement words to make a research paper richer in terms of providing more insight. However, the researcher must ensure that such pictures are optimally included to generate the desired effects. To this end, some of the tips below can help.

Ensure the picture adds value to your research paper

Pictures may be a necessary aspect of some research papers but this does not imply that they should not be selected meticulously and meritoriously. The researcher must critically evaluate all pictures he or she intends to include in their paper and select only the most relevant, i.e., those that will help illuminate verbal discussions/analysis and consequently deepen the understanding of readers.   

Proper labeling and citation

Research papers are formal documents with rules on how each of them should be written, structured, or formatted. Therefore, ensure that your pictures are labeled according to the rules provided by whoever the paper is meant for (such as a university department or a print journal). The rules are usually determined by Style Guides like the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Psychological Association, etc. Properly citing the sources of any picture you have borrowed is necessary to enable you avoid plagiarism.

Pictures should be suitably located

After toiling hard to gather the pictures needed for his or her research, the researcher should ensure that the selected pictures are appropriately inserted into the desired areas of the paper. In some social science projects and theses, for example, a tabular presentation of the data used for the research is located on the first page of the fourth chapter titled “Data presentation and analysis.”

Sometimes the researcher may have several pictures that cannot all be accommodated in the main body of a project or thesis/dissertation. In such instances, it will be appropriate to attach such pictures in the “Appendices” section at the end of the paper.

Carry the images along

The pictures do not serve as mere decorations but have been selected to help provide more insight and thus enrich the research paper. To this end, the researcher should ensure that the pictures are properly integrated into the verbal discussions or analysis in the paper.  For example, “Figure 1.0 is a graphical representation of all the differenced variables in the time series.” etc.

Citing pictures in a research paper

There are many kinds of pictures as well as picture sources and they can also be cited in a variety of ways. For simplicity, the examples in this article will focus entirely on how to cite digital (internet) pictures.

Format: Image Creator’s Last Name, First Name. “Image Title.”  Website Name , Day Month Year Published, URL.  

Example: Jones, Daniel. “The Hope Creek nuclear plant.” LearnersHub ,  9 November 2017, www.learnershub.net/2017/09/11/nuclear-technology-explained.html.

Chicago style

Format: Last Name, First Name. M [initials]. “Title.” Digital image. Website Title. Month Date, Year published. Accessed Month Date, Year. URL.

If the picture has no title, then a description can be used instead.

Date Accessed should only be included if the publication date is unavailable.

Example: Jones, Daniel R. “The Hope Creek nuclear plant.”Digital image. LearnersHub ,  Accessed 9 November 2017. www.learnershub.net.

Format: Author’s last name. First initial. (Publication or creation date). Title of image [Type of image]. Name of publisher. Museum or university. URL.

Example: Jones,  R. 2017.   The Hope Creek nuclear plant .[Photo]. National Science Museum. https//:www.nationalsciencemsuem.org/nuclearscience/2017/11/the-hope-creek-nuclear-plant.jpg.

Pictures of all kinds (including tables, charts, graphs, figures, photographs, etc) are useful components in a research paper. This is because of the insight they can bring by complementing verbal discussions and analysis. However, pictures should not be included in a research paper arbitrarily but follow some guidelines such as those presented above.

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  • How to cite an image in MLA

How to Cite an Image in MLA | Format & Examples

Published on November 20, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on June 16, 2022.

The format in which you cite an image in MLA style depends on where you viewed the image. Images are often found by searching online; in this case, you’ll cite the website where the image is hosted, in the following format.

Table of contents

Including images as figures, citing images from museums and galleries, citing images from books, citing images from journal articles, frequently asked questions about mla citations.

If you include an image directly in your paper, it should be labeled “Fig.” (short for “Figure”), given a number, and presented in the MLA figure format .

Directly below the image, place a centered caption starting with the figure label and number (e.g. “Fig. 2”), then a period. For the rest of the caption, you have two options:

  • Give full information about the source in the same format as you would in the Works Cited list, except that the author name is not inverted.
  • Or give just basic information about the source, like the author, title, and year.

If you go for option 1, you can leave this source out of your Works Cited list, since you already give full information in the caption. With option 2, you do need a Works Cited entry giving full information. The example below takes the second approach.

MLA 9 figure example

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

To cite an artwork from a museum or gallery, mention the name of the institution and the city it is located in (unless the city name is already part of the institution’s name).

If you viewed the artwork on the museum’s website, instead of in person, you should include the website name (usually the same as the name of the museum) and the URL.

When you refer to an image you encountered in a book, it’s often sufficient to just cite the book as a whole. Include a figure and/or a page number to identify the image you’re referring to.

But if the image is by someone other than the book’s main author , provide details of the image (i.e. author, title or description , year) followed by details of the book in the usual format.

If the Works Cited entry specifies a single page on which the image appears, you don’t need to add a page number in the in-text citation.

A similar format is used to cite an image reproduced in a PowerPoint .

Images from journal articles can also often just be referred to in the text, citing the whole article with a figure and/or page number specifying the image’s location. This approach makes sense when the image was created by the article’s author(s).

Where the image is not by the author(s) of the article, it’s better to list details of the image followed by the usual details for a journal article .

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pictures in research paper

Whenever you refer to an image created by someone else in your text, you should include a citation leading the reader to the image you’re discussing.

If you include the image directly in your text as a figure , the details of the source appear in the figure’s caption. If you don’t, just include an MLA in-text citation wherever you mention the image, and an entry in the Works Cited list giving full details.

When a source has no title , this part of your MLA reference is replaced with a description of the source, in plain text (no italics or quotation marks, sentence-case capitalization).

If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title . Use a shortened version of the title in your MLA in-text citation .

If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only the author’s name (or the title).

If you already named the author or title in your sentence, and there is no locator available, you don’t need a parenthetical citation:

  • Rajaram  argues that representations of migration are shaped by “cultural, political, and ideological interests.”
  • The homepage of The Correspondent describes it as “a movement for radically different news.”

If a source has two authors, name both authors in your MLA in-text citation and Works Cited entry. If there are three or more authors, name only the first author, followed by et al.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2022, June 16). How to Cite an Image in MLA | Format & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/mla/image-citation/

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Using Images in Publications

Many scholarly publications are enhanced with images, ranging from reproductions of fine art to graphs showing the results of scientific research. Including images in books and articles can complement the text, visually demonstrate the author's analysis, and engage the reader. Using images in publications, however, raises copyright issues, which can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive. To help authors navigate this process, publishers often provide specific guidance, including what rights must be requested, acceptable file formats, image resolution, etc. See Requesting 3rd party Permissions  from Oxford Journals or Image Guidelines from Johns Hopkins University Press as examples. 

The primary issues that you need to aware of when incorporating images in your publication are: 

The right to publish a copyrighted image is controlled by the copyright owner, so each copyrighted image that you use must have permission or fall within an exception to the general copyright statue, such as public domain, fair use, or open access. Copyright permission fees are sometimes waived or reduced for scholarly publications; if not, however, they can be quite expensive as well as time-consuming to obtain. We recommend that you begin the permissions process early to avoid any last-minute complications that may delay publication of your work. In addition to copyright permission, some museums and other providers of images charge a fee for the production or use of a digital image from their collections, even if the underlying work is in the public domain. Like permissions fees, use fees are sometimes waived or reduced for scholarly publications.

High resolution images

Publishers will require a high resolution image for publication (usually at least 300 ppi). These may come from museums, archives, other collections, your own work, or suppliers of stock photos. There may be a fee assessed for use, the amount of which can vary significantly depending on who is supplying the image and how you are using it.

Printing costs

The cost of printing images can be substantial for the publisher, so be sure to discuss with your editor how many images they will publish, whether they will be in color, and whether a subvention will be required if the manuscript contains a large number of images.

Privacy and publicity rights

If you have a photograph with people in it, there may be privacy or publicity rights that need to be addressed.

  • Susan Bielstein,  Copyright Clearance: A Publisher's Perspective  (2005) (article begins on page 19)
  • Susan Bielstein,  Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property  (2006) (ebook - Georgetown NetID required for off-campus access)
  • Lois Farfel Stark, Obtaining Image Permissions for Your Book: An Author’s Perspective (2018)

Copyright Principles

Public domain.

If you can find a usable image in a book or journal article published before 1927, it will be in the public domain , and therefore free of any copyright restrictions. Certain images published between 1927 and 1989 may also be in the public domain, depending on if they were published with a copyright notice and if the copyright was renewed. For more information, use this public domain chart or contact [email protected] .

Works of the United States government are also in the public domain and may be used freely.

Some museums, libraries, and archives make public domain images freely available with few or no restrictions. Read more in the Finding Images  section.

Open Access / Creative Commons

Wikimedia Commons has a large collection of images that are licensed using the Creative Commons licensing system . Restrictions, if any, are listed with the image. It is important to recognize that if you use Wikimedia, you are relying on copyright information provided by the person uploading the image. You should review the copyright information carefully to be sure it appears to be accurate.

Many of the licenses in Wikimedia permit noncommercial uses only. The definition of noncommercial for purposes of the CC BY-NC license is, “NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” Creative Commons provides some further guidance on how to  interpret  the NC license. 

Under certain circumstances, publishers may be comfortable with relying on fair use when publishing images accompanying scholarly works.

The guidelines in the College Art Association’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts set out the fair use arguments for using art for educational purposes: 

PRINCIPLE In their analytic writing about art, scholars and other writers (and, by extension, their publishers) may invoke fair use to quote, excerpt, or reproduce copyrighted works, subject to certain limitations:


  • The writer’s use of the work, whether in part or in whole, should be justified by the analytic objective, and the user should be prepared to articulate that justification.
  • The writer’s analytic objective should predominate over that of merely representing the work or works used.
  • The amount and kind of material used and (where images are concerned) the size and resolution of the published reproduction should not exceed that appropriate to the analytic objective.
  • Justifications for use and the amount used should be considered especially carefully in connection with digital-format reproductions of born-digital works, where there is a heightened risk that reproductions may function as substitutes for the originals.
  • Reproductions of works should represent the original works as accurately as can be achieved under the circumstances.
  • The writing should provide attribution of the original work as is customary in the field, to the extent possible.

Your own work

If you have your own high resolution photograph, you may use it freely since you own the copyright in your photograph. If, however, your photograph is of a copyrighted work of art, permission of the artist will be required unless it is a fair use . Note that many museums do not allow photography of works in their collections, so obtaining your own image of a work of art may not be an option. While architectural works are subject to copyright protection, photographs of publicly viewable buildings may be used. 17 U.S.C. § 120(a) .

If your image does not fall into any of the above categories, you will need to request permission from the copyright holder for use of the image. You may be able to obtain permission from one of the sites listed in the next section, or you may need to request permission from the artists or their representatives. The Artists Rights Society represents the intellectual property rights interests of visual artists and their estates worldwide and covers works in private collections as well as museums and galleries. ARS has a request form for permissions requests. Note that ARS handles permission requests only and does not supply images of the works.

For more general information on requesting permission, visit our Requesting Permission page.

Finding Images

Museums, libraries, and archives.

Some museums, libraries, and archives have collections of public domain images available for use in scholarly publications. The content of the collections and the permitted uses vary among institutions. Many do not allow images to be used as cover art since that is usually considered to be a commercial use, and some limit use to print publications. Below is a list of libraries and museums that make works available with few or no restrictions. 

  • British Library  - The British Library’s collection on flickr allows access to millions of public domain images from the Library's collections. Higher quality images, if required, are available for purchase through the British Library. For more information, visit the Library's Images Online page.  
  • J. Paul Getty Museum  - The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. More information about the content of the collections is available on their  Open Content Program  page.
  • Library of Congress - Prints and Photographs - This collection has over 1,200,000 digitized images from the Library's collections. Rights information is available for each image - look for the field marked "Rights Advisory." Many collections have no known restrictions on use. For further information about using the collection, read the Copyright and Other Restrictions That Apply to Publication/Distribution of Images . Information on restrictions on use by collection is also available.
  • National Gallery of Art  - NGA Images is a repository of images  presumed to be in the public domain  from the collections of the National Gallery of Art. Users may download— free of charge and without seeking authorization from the Gallery— any image of a work in the Gallery’s collection that the Gallery believes is in the public domain and is free of other known restrictions.
  • New York Public Library  - This collection contains more than 180,000 photographs, postcards, maps and other public-domain items from the library’s special collections in downloadable high-resolution files. High resolutions downloads are available with no permission required and no restrictions on use.
  • Victoria & Albert Museum - These images of art from the collections of the V&A are available for academic publishing with some limitations (print runs up to 4,000 copies or 5 years online use). Read the full  terms and conditions  to see if your use qualifies.

Stock image sites

There are many companies that provide both a high quality image for publication and a license for publication. These sites usually have good selection of images, the images are high quality, and the search features are sophisticated. Licensing fees vary considerably and can be high, though you may be able to negotiate a discount for use in a scholarly publication.

For some of the sites listed below, the price will vary depending on which rights you need for publication: print/electronic, region of the world, number of languages, number of books, where the image will be placed (inside/cover), and size of the image. After entering that information, a license fee will display based on your use. The license fee is not automatically available for some images; for those, you will usually receive an email message after submitting your request. You should consult with your editor when selecting options to be sure you have selected the appropriate options for your book or article.

  • Art Resource (license fee based on rights needed)
  • Bridgeman Images (license fee based on rights needed)
  • Getty Images (license fee based on rights needed)
  • iStock (flat fee)
  • Shutterstock (flat fee)

Artstor (Georgetown NetID required for off-campus access) is a subscription database that includes some images specifically licensed for academic publishing. These images are identified with “IAP” (Images for Academic Publishing) under the thumbnail image in your search results. Details of the use, including size of print run and credit line, vary among IAP images. You can view these by clicking on the IAP icon under the thumbnail image. The Terms and Conditions agreement displays when you download the image. Most Artstor images, however, are not in the IAP program and are not licensed for use in scholarly publishing. To use a non-IAP image in a book or article, you will usually need to request permission or go through a fee-based stock photo archive, often Art Resource, for a license. Artstor provides contact information for permissions in the "Rights" section of image information page.

You may also find usable images for publication on the sites listed on.

Additional options

  • College Art Association's list of image sources
  • Georgetown Library's Copyright and Multimedia: Images page
  • Georgetown Library's Images LibGuide

Specific Uses

Cover images.

Images that appear on the cover of a book often require specific permission for that use and a higher fee.

Film frames

The Association of University Presses has this statement on fair use and film frames in their Permissions FAQ :

You may use frame enlargements and publicity stills (both from films and from television shows) when you can justify their inclusion in the work under fair use guidelines—for example, when it can be argued that the illustration serves as a quote from the filmic “text” to illustrate a point. Be conservative in selecting material—if the still or frame illuminates a point you are making or is specifically discussed, then the use may qualify as fair use. Where possible, limit the number of frames reprinted from any one film and from different films that represent the subject of your work. If your use is decorative, you must seek permission from the rightsholder to include it. When purchasing material from a photo agency, read the conditions stated on the agreement and on the back of the photo very carefully (particularly the fine print). In all cases, acknowledge the original copyright holder. For a more in-depth analysis of fair use as related to stills and frame enlargements, the fair use section of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies website offers a number of policy statements and disciplinary guidelines that may be useful.

If your use goes beyond fair use, or if your publisher has a more restrictive policy, you will need to get permission from the copyright owner. Most major film studios have a licensing division where you can submit a request –  MGM ,  Sony ,  Warner Brothers , Paramount Pictures ,   Universal , and Walt Disney Studios , for example. For smaller producers, you will need to contact them directly with your request.

Charts, graphs, and figures

There are differences among publishers with respect to what permissions they require for graphs, so a good first step is to consult with your editor on their policies. A few sample policies are:

  • Princeton University Press - "Where a chart, graph, or table is being reproduced in a critical study of the work or to buttress an argument of the writer, no permission is needed. Data is not copyrightable. Unless there is a creative element to data depiction that is being reproduced without alteration, fair use can be asserted, with attribution."
  • Harvard University Press - "Data is not protected by copyright. However, graphics like tables and charts are copyright protected if the data is organized or presented in a unique way or if the graphic provides interpretation of the data. If you plan to reprint a graphic from another source that is protected by copyright, please clear permission. If you plan to reprint existing tables and charts, adapt existing tables and charts, or create your own tables and charts that will not be subject to copyright protection, please refer to the following guidelines for credit: The standard way to credit tables and charts you are reprinting is: Source: Credit."
  • Oxford University Press - "As a guide, you should always seek permission for:  . . . Pictures (paintings, drawings, charts, engravings, photographs, cartoons, and so on); Figures and maps; Tables."

There are permissions guidelines that many STM publishers use in setting policies for the reuse of images from their publications. The guidelines include gratis permission for the use of limited numbers of figures/tables/images from journal articles or books, though note that not all members have adopted policies exactly as written in the guidelines.

Many publishers who follow the STM guidelines, or who have similar policies, provide free permissions through the Copyright Clearance Center's Marketplace  so those requests are usually quick, easy, and free. The Marketplace system requires information about your publication and exactly what rights you are seeking. For charts, graphs, or figures that fall outside the guidelines, the license fees are often in the $20-$50 range, although that depends on many factors and could be higher or lower.

If you have questions about using images in a scholarly publication, please email [email protected] .

Home / Guides / Citation Guides / Harvard Referencing / Harvard Referencing Style Examples / How to reference an image in Harvard style

How to reference an image in Harvard style

Referencing images can be confusing. Do you reference the photographer or the subject of the image itself? Do you include where you saw or found the image? What if you took the photograph yourself? This guide will help clear up the confusion!  

Below, the guide will cover how to cite images in different scenarios, both as an in-text citation and a reference. For each scenario, you will be given a citation structure, along with examples to illustrate each case.

Online images/photographs  

Today, finding and citing a digital or online image is simple. You’ll need the following information:

  • Photographer’s name
  • (Year published)  
  • Title of the photograph, italizised
  • Available at: URL (Accessed: the date you sourced the image)  

In-text citation structure and example:

(Photographer’s name, Year published)

Photographer’s name (Year published)

B.B. King’s beautiful Gibson semi-hollow body ES-355 guitar (Joseph, 2001) ……

Reference list structure and example:

Photographer’s Last Name, Initial. (Year published) Title of the photograph. Available at: URL (Accessed: the date you sourced the image)  

Joseph, J. (2001) Lucille. Available at: http://www.jackjoseph.co.uk/photo_23456.html (Accessed: 22 August 2016)

Online images/photographs from a curated collection  

As we know, the Internet has a vast repository of curated image collections, especially on sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram, to name just a few. The rules stay pretty much unchanged in this case, as well.  

You will just need to direct the viewer/reader to the source where you viewed or uploaded the image. You may cite relevant information about images sourced from such Internet collections as follows:

  • (Year published)
  • Title of the photograph/collection, italicized

Photographs by Gustavo Grandissimo (2015) …

Grandissimo, G. (2015) The heights of abstraction. Available at: https://instagram.com/theheightsofabstraction (Accessed: 10 August 2012)

Images without a listed photographer or artist  

You may cite information about images without a listed creator. You’ll need the following information:

  • Title of the photograph, italicized

As you can see in the image of the controversial protest rally ( Up in arms , 2019) …

Title of the photograph (Year published) Available at: URL (Accessed: the date you sourced the image)  

Up in arms (2019) Available at: http://www.therevolutionbeat.com/protests/2019/image_34567.html (Accessed: 10 March 2019)

Prints or slides

A print refers to a printed reproduction of a popular work of art or image. A slide, on the other hand, is a transparent photograph that consists of chromogenic dyes mounted inside a plastic frame to be projected onto a large screen.  

Information needed:

  • [Photograph]
  • Place of publication: Publisher’s name, if available

The expanding mushroom cloud from the resulting blast was captured on that fateful day (Tanaka, 1945)

Tanaka, N. (1945) The day Fat Boy fell to Earth [Photograph]. Hokkaido: Kurosawa Publishers  

Images photographed by you

It is not necessary to provide a reference to a photograph or image if you are the creator. However, check with your tutor about the most appropriate way to present original images or photographs in your work.

If you need to reference an original image, you can use the following citation structure:

  • Your name (Year published or taken)

…lays emphasis on the fact that the sun doesn’t need to be the focus of a picture (Koenig, 2019)

Your Last Name, Initial. (Year published) Title of the photograph [Photograph]  

Koenig, K. (2019) The sunset [Photograph]  

Published October 29, 2020.

Harvard Formatting Guide

Harvard Formatting

  • et al Usage
  • Direct Quotes
  • In-text Citations
  • Multiple Authors
  • Page Numbers
  • Writing an Outline
  • View Harvard Guide

Reference Examples

  • View all Harvard Examples

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  • Images from UW Libraries
  • Open Images
  • Image Analysis
  • Citing Images
  • University of Washington Libraries
  • Library Guides
  • Images Research Guide

Images Research Guide: Image Analysis

Analyze images.

Content analysis    

  • What do you see?
  • What is the image about?
  • Are there people in the image? What are they doing? How are they presented?
  • Can the image be looked at different ways?
  • How effective is the image as a visual message?

Visual analysis  

  • How is the image composed? What is in the background, and what is in the foreground?
  • What are the most important visual elements in the image? How can you tell?
  • How is color used?
  • What meanings are conveyed by design choices?

Contextual information  

  • What information accompanies the image?
  • Does the text change how you see the image? How?
  • Is the textual information intended to be factual and inform, or is it intended to influence what and how you see?
  • What kind of context does the information provide? Does it answer the questions Where, How, Why, and For whom was the image made?

Image source  

  • Where did you find the image?
  • What information does the source provide about the origins of the image?
  • Is the source reliable and trustworthy?
  • Was the image found in an image database, or was it being used in another context to convey meaning?

Technical quality  

  • Is the image large enough to suit your purposes?
  • Are the color, light, and balance true?
  • Is the image a quality digital image, without pixelation or distortion?
  • Is the image in a file format you can use?
  • Are there copyright or other use restrictions you need to consider? 

  developed by Denise Hattwig , [email protected]

More Resources

National Archives document analysis worksheets :

  • Photographs
  • All worksheets

Visual literacy resources :

  • Visual Literacy for Libraries: A Practical, Standards-Based Guide   (book, 2016) by Brown, Bussert, Hattwig, Medaille ( UW Libraries availability )
  • 7 Things You Should Know About... Visual Literacy ( Educause , 2015 )
  • Keeping Up With... Visual Literacy  (ACRL, 2013)
  • Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (ACRL, 2011)
  • Visual Literacy White Paper  (Adobe, 2003)
  • Reading Images: an Introduction to Visual Literacy (UNC School of Education)
  • Visual Literacy Activities (Oakland Museum of California)
  • << Previous: Open Images
  • Next: Citing Images >>
  • Last Updated: Nov 3, 2023 1:12 PM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.uw.edu/newimages

pictures in research paper

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Designing High-Quality Images for Research Papers and Theses: The Available Tools

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Manuscripts express data collected from months or years of careful experimentation. However, raw data or narratives alone don’t make good journal articles. Data visualization tools and free drawing software enable scientists to explain their scientific story. By using tools to perfect scientific illustration, your manuscript can grab reviewers’ attention. More importantly, it will help your readers understand data quickly, increasing the likelihood of citing and sharing your research paper .

Why Image Quality Matters

  Journals have strict guidelines regarding figure/image quality (e.g. “dots per inch”/DPI or number of pixels per image). Editors and their staff will turn down manuscripts prior to review if the images are of insufficient quality. Furthermore, poor figure quality can leave a bad impression on readers and reviewers. So, when editing and creating scientific images, be sure to use scientific illustration software or drawing tools to make your data clear and understandable!

Tables can help communicate data quickly to readers, who are often short on time. For this reason, when you have a well-designed table, your paper can have a far greater impact. For this reason, your tables should have clear and descriptive titles, well-defined headings , aligned data entries in each cell, and clearly defined units for all data entries. Meanwhile, when designing figures, there are many tools available to researchers to create publication-ready images.

Related: Creating images for your research paper? Check out these resources and avoid image manipulation now!

Uses and Limitations of Common Tools

There is a myriad of tools available for scientists. Picking which one to work with depends on your computer literacy, budget, and desired outcomes.

R is a free statistics computing program that also facilitates graphics development. It works on a variety of operating systems. Furthermore, the default design choices for image rendering were made to generate publication-quality plots with ease. While it is free, it is not as user-friendly as subscription services, such as Prism, which allows for both data analysis and figure development.

ImageJ is a freely available software developed by the National Institutes of Health . In short, it is an image-processing program that allows users to edit, analyze, process, save, print, modify colors, and quantitate images . One of the more exciting features is its ability to generate stacks (a series of images) from videos or convert photos into videos. This is helpful for live cell imaging.

Inkspace is a quality vector graphics editor that is open sourced and provides flexible drawing tools . It has broad file format compatibility and a powerful text tool.

GIMP is a free image manipulation program that can be combined with plugins to enhance features. It requires greater computer literacy than most other image formatting tools.

Cytospace is an open source network for complex network analysis that helps users integrate, analyze, and visualize data. While it is free to use, it is not as user-friendly as Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, which allows for pathways to be designed and rendered artistically with great ease (for a fee, of course).

ImageMagick is another tool that can be used to read and write images in many commonly used formats (e.g., PNG, JPEG, FIG, TIFF, PDF, etc). For this reason, it can modify images in nearly any manner. It allows users to composite images, animate, manage color, decorate, draw, and delineate image features (e.g., edges of colors). Furthermore, it is compatible with multiple coding languages.

  • While creating figures can be a fun process, it’s important to always do it correctly. First, check the required format for images prior to submitting. If you have to convert the image file, check to ensure that your DPI is still at least 300.
  • Once ready to submit, carefully review figures for errors prior to publishing. One method of doing this is to print your figures in color and review them manually. This will help you spot oddities that may have otherwise been missed by an electronic review.
  • When modifying your images for publication, never manipulate your images in a manner that is fraudulent. Western blots are often the most suspicious images available that will carefully be scrutinized by your reviewers.
  • Finally, while a lot of data is helpful to have, be sure to reduce the presence of “chartjunk” – the unnecessary visual elements that distract the reader from what really matters…your data!

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Can You Put Pictures in a Research Paper? (Answered!)

Author Image

by  Antony W

July 6, 2022

put pictures in a research paper

The conventional format of a research paper doesn’t have room for pictures. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t include images in your assignment.

You can add non-textual elements such as pictures, charts, vectors, and graphs in your research paper provided they’re relevant to the research question. Such elements are useful because they can make your work not only visually appealing but also more descriptive.  

To be clear, it’s not necessary to include pictures in your research paper. So your professor won’t penalize you or under grade your work if you fail to include non-textual elements in the assignment.

Sometimes, though, it can be very useful to include pictures in your research, and for a number of reasons.

Can a You Put Pictures in a Research Paper? (4 Reasons to Include Them) 

why to put pictures in research paper

1. Non-textual Elements are Useful for Showing Examples 

The consensus in research paper writing is that students must support claims that they make using logical reason, evidence, and examples. Pictures, and especially illustration and charts, can come in handy in this kind of a scenario. 

Say you’re investigating the effect of a drug on bacterial, for example. In this case, you can use a graph to demonstrate a before and after effect of the experiment.

2. Pictures Help to Explain a Process 

Some research papers involve complex process that you can’t easily explain in words alone. Therefore, adding an illustration can go a long way to make your ideas clear to the audience reading your paper.

3. Pictures Help to Clarify Terms in Research Paper Assignments

A chart or a scheme can help you to explain terms that would be otherwise difficult to explain in words. By using an image in such a scenario, you make terms structured and very easy to understand.  

4. Pictures Can Motivate Readers to Keep Reading

Research papers are long assignments, and sometimes they can be quite tedious to read in one sitting. We’re talking about more than 15 pages of written work, which requires a lot of patience to review from the title page all the way to the appendix.

An effective way to keep your audience reading, regardless of how long your research paper is, is to include relevant images to explain some concepts. Often, the illustrations break the monotony of scanning paragraphs and walls of text, hence keeping the reader attached to the research paper.

What Types of Images Can You Include in a Research Paper? 

1. standard pictures .

standard pictures

We can define a picture as a painting, drawing, or a representation of an object in a photograph.

While there are no strict rules to the type of picture you can use in your research paper, you do have to make sure whatever you choose adequately fits into your writing.

You should also make sure that the picture you choose to include in your research paper is:

  • Clear and visible 
  • Self-descriptive. Readers should look at the image and know straight away why you included it in the paper.
  • Closely related to the context and is within the scope of your research question
  • Legal to use. Give credit to the image in your paper if it’s not your own.

There a few rules you need to observe when including pictures in your research paper. Generally, you can:

  • Add a picture at the end of the paper, inside the paper separately from the text, or inside the text.
  • Each picture must have a name, description, and a number
  • Include information about the owner of the picture so you don’t violate their right to their own content.

You don’t have to worry about copyright if the pictures you intend to use in your research paper are your own.

Graphs and Charts 

charts and graphs

Graphs and charts can explain complex concepts in few words and they can be quite handy in helping you solve several problems at once.

They are useful especially when you want to:

  • Give a graphical illustration of statistics
  • Give a detailed comparison between two or more phenomenon or objects
  • To show the relationship between variables
  • Demonstrate meaning, size, and level of influence of certain phenomena 

The benefit of using charts and graphs is that they make your research paper easy to read. Moreover, by presenting a huge amount of information in a laconic way, readers can easily understand concepts without having to read long text and multiple paragraphs.

For you, the writer, using graphs and charts means ensuring that your paper is more comprehensive and concise – without a trace of unnecessary words or irrelevant materials added to the assignment.

How Do You Cite Images in Your Research Paper? 

cite images in research paper

It’s very easy to cite an image, chart, or graph in a research paper. All you have to do is to make sure that the image includes:

  • The name of the author
  • The year the image was taken
  • The title of the image
  • The format of the image and additional details
  • The date you accessed the image
  • The source of the image

With this information, it should be easy for you to cite any image that you decide to include in your research paper.

Tips to Use Pictures, Charts, and Graphs in Research Paper 

First, ask your instructor to confirm if it’s appropriate to use pictures, charts, and graphs in your research paper. They’ll give you the necessary information to help you make the right decision.

Focus more on adding charts and graphs in your work, as these tend to be more relevant in illustrating mathematical, economics, and scientific principles.

Don’t use many images in your research paper. As significant as non-textual elements are, using more than you should, unless slowed by the theme of the assignment, isn’t necessary.

You should NOT include a picture in your research paper for decorative purpose. Leave cute captions to blogging platforms such as Medium and Buzzfeed. Make sure the image, graph, or chart that you include in your work relates to the question you wish to investigate in the essay.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.


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The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500

FACT SHEET: President   Biden Issues Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

Today, President Biden is issuing a landmark Executive Order to ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence (AI). The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive strategy for responsible innovation, the Executive Order builds on previous actions the President has taken, including work that led to voluntary commitments from 15 leading companies to drive safe, secure, and trustworthy development of AI. The Executive Order directs the following actions: New Standards for AI Safety and Security

As AI’s capabilities grow, so do its implications for Americans’ safety and security.  With this Executive Order, the  President directs the  most sweeping  actions  ever taken  to protect Americans from  the potential  risks  of  AI  systems :

  • Require that developers of the most powerful AI systems share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government.  In accordance with the Defense Production Act, the Order will require that companies developing any foundation model that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety must notify the federal government when training the model, and must share the results of all red-team safety tests. These measures will ensure AI systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy before companies make them public. 
  • Develop standards, tools, and tests to help ensure that AI systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology will set the rigorous standards for extensive red-team testing to ensure safety before public release. The Department of Homeland Security will apply those standards to critical infrastructure sectors and establish the AI Safety and Security Board. The Departments of Energy and Homeland Security will also address AI systems’ threats to critical infrastructure, as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity risks. Together, these are the most significant actions ever taken by any government to advance the field of AI safety.
  • Protect against the risks of using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials  by developing strong new standards for biological synthesis screening. Agencies that fund life-science projects will establish these standards as a condition of federal funding, creating powerful incentives to ensure appropriate screening and manage risks potentially made worse by AI.
  • Protect Americans from AI-enabled fraud and deception by establishing standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content . The Department of Commerce will develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content. Federal agencies will use these tools to make it easy for Americans to know that the communications they receive from their government are authentic—and set an example for the private sector and governments around the world.
  • Establish an advanced cybersecurity program to develop AI tools to find and fix vulnerabilities in critical software,  building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing AI Cyber Challenge. Together, these efforts will harness AI’s potentially game-changing cyber capabilities to make software and networks more secure.
  • Order the development of a National Security Memorandum that directs further actions on AI and security,  to be developed by the National Security Council and White House Chief of Staff. This document will ensure that the United States military and intelligence community use AI safely, ethically, and effectively in their missions, and will direct actions to counter adversaries’ military use of AI.

Protecting Americans’ Privacy

Without safeguards, AI can put Americans’ privacy further at risk. AI not only makes it easier to extract, identify, and exploit personal data, but it also heightens incentives to do so because companies use data to train AI systems.  To better protect Americans’ privacy, including from the risks posed by AI, the President calls on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation to protect all Americans, especially kids, and directs the following actions:

  • Protect Americans’ privacy by prioritizing federal support for accelerating the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques— including ones that use cutting-edge AI and that let AI systems be trained while preserving the privacy of the training data.  
  • Strengthen privacy-preserving research   and technologies,  such as cryptographic tools that preserve individuals’ privacy, by funding a Research Coordination Network to advance rapid breakthroughs and development. The National Science Foundation will also work with this network to promote the adoption of leading-edge privacy-preserving technologies by federal agencies.
  • Evaluate how agencies collect and use commercially available information —including information they procure from data brokers—and  strengthen privacy guidance for federal agencies  to account for AI risks. This work will focus in particular on commercially available information containing personally identifiable data.
  • Develop guidelines for federal agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of privacy-preserving techniques,  including those used in AI systems. These guidelines will advance agency efforts to protect Americans’ data.

Advancing Equity and Civil Rights

Irresponsible uses of AI can lead to and deepen discrimination, bias, and other abuses in justice, healthcare, and housing. The Biden-Harris Administration has already taken action by publishing the  Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights  and issuing an  Executive Order directing agencies to combat algorithmic discrimination , while enforcing existing authorities to protect people’s rights and safety.  To ensure that AI advances equity and civil rights, the President directs the following additional actions:

  • Provide clear guidance to landlords, Federal benefits programs, and federal contractors  to keep AI algorithms from being used to exacerbate discrimination.
  • Address algorithmic discrimination  through training, technical assistance, and coordination between the Department of Justice and Federal civil rights offices on best practices for investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations related to AI.
  • Ensure fairness throughout the criminal justice system  by developing best practices on the use of AI in sentencing, parole and probation, pretrial release and detention, risk assessments, surveillance, crime forecasting and predictive policing, and forensic analysis.

Standing Up for Consumers, Patients, and Students

AI can bring real benefits to consumers—for example, by making products better, cheaper, and more widely available. But AI also raises the risk of injuring, misleading, or otherwise harming Americans.  To protect consumers while ensuring that AI can make Americans better off, the President directs the following actions:

  • Advance the responsible use of AI  in healthcare and the development of affordable and life-saving drugs. The Department of Health and Human Services will also establish a safety program to receive reports of—and act to remedy – harms or unsafe healthcare practices involving AI. 
  • Shape AI’s potential to transform education  by creating resources to support educators deploying AI-enabled educational tools, such as personalized tutoring in schools.

Supporting Workers

AI is changing America’s jobs and workplaces, offering both the promise of improved productivity but also the dangers of increased workplace surveillance, bias, and job displacement.  To mitigate these risks, support workers’ ability to bargain collectively, and invest in workforce training and development that is accessible to all, the President directs the following actions:

  • Develop principles and best practices to mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers  by addressing job displacement; labor standards; workplace equity, health, and safety; and data collection. These principles and best practices will benefit workers by providing guidance to prevent employers from undercompensating workers, evaluating job applications unfairly, or impinging on workers’ ability to organize.
  • Produce a report on AI’s potential labor-market impacts , and  study and identify options for strengthening federal support for workers facing labor disruptions , including from AI.

Promoting Innovation and Competition

America already leads in AI innovation—more AI startups raised first-time capital in the United States last year than in the next seven countries combined.  The Executive Order ensures that we continue to lead the way in innovation and competition through the following actions:

  • Catalyze AI research across the United States  through a pilot of the National AI Research Resource—a tool that will provide AI researchers and students access to key AI resources and data—and expanded grants for AI research in vital areas like healthcare and climate change.
  • Promote a fair, open, and competitive AI ecosystem  by providing small developers and entrepreneurs access to technical assistance and resources, helping small businesses commercialize AI breakthroughs, and encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to exercise its authorities.
  • Use existing authorities to expand the ability of highly skilled immigrants and nonimmigrants with expertise in critical areas to study, stay, and work in the United States  by modernizing and streamlining visa criteria, interviews, and reviews.

Advancing American Leadership Abroad

AI’s challenges and opportunities are global.  The Biden-Harris Administration will continue working with other nations to support safe, secure, and trustworthy deployment and use of AI worldwide. To that end, the President directs the following actions:

  • Expand bilateral, multilateral, and multistakeholder engagements to collaborate on AI . The State Department, in collaboration, with the Commerce Department will lead an effort to establish robust international frameworks for harnessing AI’s benefits and managing its risks and ensuring safety. In addition, this week, Vice President Harris will speak at the UK Summit on AI Safety, hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
  • Accelerate development and implementation of vital AI standards  with international partners and in standards organizations, ensuring that the technology is safe, secure, trustworthy, and interoperable.
  • Promote the safe, responsible, and rights-affirming development and deployment of AI abroad to solve global challenges,  such as advancing sustainable development and mitigating dangers to critical infrastructure.

Ensuring Responsible and Effective Government Use of AI

AI can help government deliver better results for the American people. It can expand agencies’ capacity to regulate, govern, and disburse benefits, and it can cut costs and enhance the security of government systems. However, use of AI can pose risks, such as discrimination and unsafe decisions.  To ensure the responsible government deployment of AI and modernize federal AI infrastructure, the President directs the following actions:

  • Issue guidance for agencies’ use of AI,  including clear standards to protect rights and safety, improve AI procurement, and strengthen AI deployment.  
  • Help agencies acquire specified AI products and services  faster, more cheaply, and more effectively through more rapid and efficient contracting.
  • Accelerate the rapid hiring of AI professionals  as part of a government-wide AI talent surge led by the Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Corps, and Presidential Innovation Fellowship. Agencies will provide AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields.

As we advance this agenda at home, the Administration will work with allies and partners abroad on a strong international framework to govern the development and use of AI. The Administration has already consulted widely on AI governance frameworks over the past several months—engaging with Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, the UAE, and the UK. The actions taken today support and complement Japan’s leadership of the G-7 Hiroshima Process, the UK Summit on AI Safety, India’s leadership as Chair of the Global Partnership on AI, and ongoing discussions at the United Nations. The actions that President Biden directed today are vital steps forward in the U.S.’s approach on safe, secure, and trustworthy AI. More action will be required, and the Administration will continue to work with Congress to pursue bipartisan legislation to help America lead the way in responsible innovation. For more on the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance AI, and for opportunities to join the Federal AI workforce, visit AI.gov .

Stay Connected

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

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Ori Megidish (centre) shown with relatives in an undated photograph.

Hostage soldier rescued in Gaza, says Israel

Ori Megidish said to have been freed as Hamas issues video of three others still in captivity

  • Israel and Hamas at war – live updates

Israeli forces have announced the liberation of a hostage in Gaza hours after Hamas released a video of three other hostages who remain in captivity.

Ori Megidish, an Israel Defence Forces soldier, was freed during an escalating offensive in Gaza , the IDF and the internal security agency Shin Bet said in a joint statement on Monday night. It said she had undergone medical checks and was doing well.

The announcement followed the release of a video by Hamas in an apparent effort to put pressure on the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The group’s military wing disseminated the clip via social media as Israeli forces advanced on Gaza City .

The women who appeared in the video are likely to have been filmed under duress. The Geneva conventions prohibit the taking of hostages.

The video description provided by Hamas said: “A number of Zionist prisoners held by al-Qassam send a message to Netanyahu and the Zionist government.”

A phone displays footage released by Hamas showing three hostages (left to right) Rimon Kirsht, Danielle Aloni and Elena Trupanov.

Netanyahu condemned the video as “cruel psychological propaganda”. His office named the women as Danielle Aloni, Rimon Kirsht and Elena Trupanov. “I embrace you,” said the prime minister. “Our hearts are with you and the other captives.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, an umbrella group for families of abductees, said the three women’s relatives would give a press conference in Tel Aviv later on Monday.

The 76-second clip showed the women seated together in plastic chairs in front of a tiled wall, facing the camera. They bore no visible signs of injury.

Only Aloni, seated in the centre, spoke. Gazing directly at the camera, she said they had been in captivity for 23 days, suggesting the video was filmed on Sunday or Monday, just over three weeks since Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on 7 October, killing more than 1,400 people and abducting more than 220.

Addressing Netanyahu directly, she accused the Israeli government of leaving her community defenceless during the Hamas attack. “We are getting punished for your political, national neglect,” she said. “Nobody came. Nobody heard us.”

She said there was supposed to be a ceasefire. “We are innocent citizens. Citizens who pay taxes to the state of Israel. You want to kill us all. You want to kill us all using the IDF.”

She pleaded for an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. “Let their citizens go, let their prisoners go. Free us. Free all of us. Let us return to our families now!” At the end she screamed “now” several times.

Aloni was kidnapped with her six-year-old daughter, Emilia, while visiting her twin sister, Sharon, in the Nir Oz kibbutz. Sharon Aloni Konio was also kidnapped with her husband and three-year-old twin daughters.

Trupanov and Kirsht remained silent and largely avoided looking at the camera. Trupanov was kidnapped from Nir Oz with several family members. Her husband was murdered. Kirsht was abducted from the Nirim kibbutz with her husband.

Hamas has offered to release hostages in return for an estimated 5,000 Palestinians incarcerated in Israel. Netanyahu has rejected an immediate swap and said the offensive in Gaza would press Hamas into making concessions.

 Hostage rescued in Gaza as Hamas issues video of others still in captivity – video

Earlier on Monday, families of hostages gathered in central Jerusalem for an “empty beds” installation that placed 239 beds and bassinets at Safra Square, in front of city hall, representing the number of children and adults believed to be in captivity in Gaza.

“This is a way to visualise what happened. They are not in their own beds now. These beds are empty and under the sky,” said Eran Webber, an artist who organised the installation.

Yael Moshe holds a placard of her murdered father, David, and kidnapped mother, Adina, at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

Yael Moshe, 48, held a placard of her mother, Adina Moshe, 72, who was abducted from the Nir Oz kibbutz after Hamas gunmen murdered her husband, David, 75.

“She has a heart condition but a strong spirit,” said Moshe. She expressed unease about the army offensive in Gaza. “My stomach hurts. I don’t want to think about it.”

Moshe implored the government to prioritise freeing the hostages, even if that meant emptying Israel’s prisons of Palestinians. “Whatever it takes, do it. I just want the hostages back. After that the government can do what it wants.”

Relatives of other hostages endorsed trading Palestinian prisoners, even incarcerated Hamas militants. “It’s a big price, nevertheless we care about our loved ones home. Let’s get them out, then we can take revenge for the massacre,” said Eyal Mor, 61. His uncle Abraham Munder, 78, was kidnapped along with Munder’s wife, Ruth, 78, daughter Keren, 53, and grandson Ohad, nine.

Tamar Goren holds a placard of her kidnapped daughter, Shami, in Jerusalem.

Tamar Goren, 62, whose daughter Shami is a hostage, supported the military offensive in Gaza but also favoured a prisoner swap. “No problem. All the Palestinians can go back,” Goren said.

It was a view echoed by Reut Eventov, 49, who held a placard of her abducted father-in-law, Haim Peri, 79. “Israel must bring the hostages home and deal with Hamas after.”

  • Israel-Hamas war
  • Palestinian territories
  • Middle East and north Africa
  • Benjamin Netanyahu

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UN says agency in Gaza ‘practically out of business’ – as it happened

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Israeli forces attack Hamas targets in Gaza City as ground war intensifies

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First of 100-strong group of Britons cross Gaza border into Egypt

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‘We feel totally abandoned’: doctors and aid workers fight to survive in Gaza

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