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Family & Consumer Sciences Research Guide: Images and APA

This research guide features resources and strategies for finding information and conducting research related to the Family and Consumer Science degree programs.

Using Images in a Presentation

Beware of plagiarism

When using images in your presentation, it is considered plagiarism if credit is not given to the author/creator of the image. It is important to write a proper image caption, which includes a citation, and if required, cite the image in your project’s reference section based on your required formatting style (MLA, APA, Turabian, etc.)

When do you need permission to use an image in your presentation?

Does the image have copyright? The image has copyright if the resource states: All Rights Reserved, states the word “Copyright”, or has the © symbol. Also, assume the image has copyright unless it has a Creative Commons License or the copyright date is 95 years or older (see public domain below). If you publish or share your presentation at a conference you need to gain permission if it is under copyright.

For example, if an image is used from an article or a book, it most likely has copyright. Permission will need to be obtained to use the image in your presentation. To make the process easier, try to choose an image that fits your need that is free to use and doesn’t need permission such as an image with a Creative Commons (CC) license or that is in the public domain. What are Creative Commons and the public domain? Let’s take a look.  

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Creative Commons(CC) is a free system of licenses that the author/creator can choose to put on their copyright items so others know how they can use the item. Users do not need to obtain permission to use materials with a CC license. The license will use terms, as seen below, to identify what license the author/creator has selected.

To find free content under Creative Commons use this link.

 BY =  Attribution. All CC licenses require attribution (to give credit to the author).

NC =  Non-Commercial use. Item cannot be used commercially.

ND = No Derivatives. User cannot modify the work.

SA = ShareAlike. Must be shared under the same     license even if transformed from the original work.

Visuals are sometimes used for CC licenses.                  Creative Commons acronyms and meanings:

How to Write a Caption for a Creative Commons Image

CC Caption Formatting:

When an image from CC is used, it is required that the user give attribution to the author/creator.  Attribution is another way of saying, to give credit to the creator. For more information about Creative Commons use this link.

Creative Commons Attribution includes the following: the title of work, creator, source, and the license under which it is being used.

Example: Fig. 1. "Pictured is the new Virtus helmet with mounted Modular Night Vision Device." by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What is the Public Domain?

What is the Public Domain?

The public domain consists of items that are generally free to use in any manner because the copyright has expired or the item never had copyright protection. Permission to use the item is not needed from the author/creator but a caption is required to avoid plagiarism.

How to identify if the item is in the public domain?

  1. Works of the U.S. government are not copyrightable but works created by state and local governments may be protected.  View this State Copyright map for state information.
  2. Items that are placed in the public domain by the creators such as items that have a CC0 Creative Commons License.
  3. Facts by themselves are not protected by copyright. Therefore, data, as a collection of facts, is not protected by U.S. copyright, unless it is presented creatively.
  4. Items whose copyright has expired. There is a “95-year rule”. When a copyright date is older than 95 years, the copyrighted item comes into the public domain.    

Free to Use Image Sites

Here are some resources that offer free-to-use images. Most images are in the public domain or use Creative Commons licenses. Captions are still required. 

  1. Library of Congress: Free to Use and Reuse Sets the contents of the site are free to use and reuse. The Library of Congress believes that this content is either in the public domain, has no copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use. Each set is based on a theme.
  2. The British Library  A collection of over 1 million public domain images from digitized copies of 17th, 18th, and 19th-century books.
  3. San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives on Flickr  These are lo-res digital images from the San Diego Air and Space Museum's Library and Archives, which houses over one million aviation-related photos, slides, and transparencies.

  1. Google Images  Page title will say “Google Images”. In the bottom right corner of the screen, select Settings. On the Settings menu, select the Advanced Search option. Enter the name of the image searching in the "find images with” field. Next, go to usage rights and select Creative Commons Licenses then choose the Advanced Search button.
  2. Wellcome Collection Find thousands of freely licensed digital books, artworks, photos, and images of historical library materials and museum objects.
  3. Public Health Image Library (PHIL)  Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Types of image categories/collections include influenza, natural disasters, environmental health, bioterrorism, health behaviors, and more.
  4. Unsplash  Freely usable images

How to Create a Caption for an Image


The caption format is located above and under the image (see example 2):

  1. Each image should have a Figure number attached to it. They should be numerical in the order they are shown in the presentation. The image should be labeled with a Figure # in italics (example: Figure 1.)
  2. APA requires a description. Type the description in sentence case, only capitalizing the first word and any proper nouns.
  3. Include “Adapted from,” for adaptations, or “From” for reprinting or copying, then provide a title to the image and creator of the image.
  4. The figure number and image name go above the image.


Figure 2

Diving Helmet 

Note. From “Diving helmet” by Misteraitch, n.d., retrieved from CC BY 2.0.

Different Sources

What if I Created the Image?

The image or photo should be identified to clearly state the author/creator of the item.

The caption under the image:

  1. MLA & APA: Photo by [Your Name] OR Created by [Your Name] (A short description would be nice but not required).
  2. Chicago: Figure 1. Bike helmet (Photo by [Your Name].) or Table 1. Level of safety (Table by [Your Name]).

Images from Royalty-Free Clip Art

The caption under the image:

  1. MLA: Image from Source.  (ex. Black cat. PowerPoint, Microsoft Office)
  2. APA: For general purposes use the same as MLA. Image from Source.
  3. Chicago: Figure 1. Helmet. Image by Source.

Images Found on Google or Bing (or similar source)

Do not cite Google or Bing directly. Rather, click through the image until the image source is discovered.  Create a caption in the correct format style.