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Finding and Using Images

A guide to searching for and reusing digital images for UMSL students and faculty.

The Basics of Citations

When doing research and writing for your college courses, you will be expected to cite your sources, including print or digital images. This page offers a basic introduction.  For more information, visit our Citing Sources Guide.

What does it mean to "cite my sources"?

A citation is a reference to an outside source. In other words, you are acknowledging that you found this information from someone or somewhere else - it is not your own original creation, thought, or research.

Why do I have to cite my sources?
  • It gives credit to the person whose idea or creation you are referencing.

  • It leads readers to your sources.

  • It helps you avoid plagiarism.

When you find information in another source, someone else "owns" their own creation and ideas, whether or not they have published them.  Not giving that person credit when you borrow their ideas or words is called plagiarism, which is a very serious academic infraction.  Intentionally or accidentally claiming someone else's work as your own may also violate copyright law.  For more information about how image copyright applies to students, please see our Images and Copyright for Students page.

How do I create my citations?

The guidelines you use to format your citation - the citation style - will depend on several factors, including your field of study and your professor's preferences.

Some image banks will provide a ready-made citation for you. If not, you will need to create the citation yourself.

You will most commonly use one of the styles listed below.  However, you should always check with your professor first.

When in doubt, visit the official citation manual to check your formatting.


MLA Style refers to the standards published by the Modern Language Association.  This style is most commonly used in humanities disciplines such English, modern languages, and cultural studies.

An MLA citation (8th edition) for a digitized painting might look like:

  • Knope, Leslie. Ramsett Park in the Springtime. 2011. Pawnee Art Museum, Pawnee, Indiana. Pawnee Art Online, Accessed November 13, 2021.

For more guidance, visit:

Purdue Owl: MLA Style and Formatting Guide

Chicago / Turabian

Chicago Style refers to standards published by the University of Chicago Press.  This style is most commonly used in disciplines such as history, literature, and the arts.  It is unique in that it offers two sub-styles:

  • author-date: functions similarly to MLA and APA styles by using in-text parenthetical citations
  • notes-bibliography: offers readers shortened citations at the bottom of the page in footnotes

You may also see the term Turabian Style, which refers to a simplified version of Chicago.

A sample Chicago style citation (17th edition, bibliography) for a digitized painting might look like:

  • Knope, Leslie B., Ramsett Park in the Springtime, 2011, Pawnee Art Museum, Pawnee, Indiana, Pawnee Art Online, painting, (accessed November 13, 2021).

For more guidance, visit:

Purdue Owl: Chicago Style and Formatting Guide
Turabian Citation Quick Guide


APA Style refers to the standards published by the American Psychological Association.  This style is most commonly used in disciplines such as psychology, sociology, business, economics, nursing, social work, and criminology.

A sample  APA citation (7th edition) for a digitized painting might look like:

  • Knope, L. (2011). Ramsett Park in the springtime [painting]. Pawnee Art Museum, Pawnee, Indiana, United States.

For more guidance, visit:

Purdue Owl: APA Formatting and Style Guide