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citing images from Google

A great question came in last week from a graduate student:

How do I cite images I find using Google Images?

Follow the image to its original website location. Use the information there to cite the image. (You won’t want to try to create a citation using the Google Images search result URL).

This brought up additional questions and discussion:

There are several versions of the image I need in the Google results. Which one should I use?

Consider the visual quality of the image, and the source of the image.

For scholarly purposes, try to choose a high-quality (clear, large)  image, and an image source as close to the image creator or owning institution or publisher as you can.

Do some investigating. Follow some possibly useful images out to their website locations. Evaluate your options.  Is the image on an artist’s or creator’s website or Flickr account? Is the image from a museum or other institutional site? Is the image being used to promote an agenda other than that for which it was intended? Does the website context give the image a new or different meaning?

Use information you discover from your initial investigations to determine the best source for the image. Your Google Image results may not retrieve an image from a museum collection or artist website, for instance, but you may be able to use information you find from related images to identify a museum name and go directly to the source for the image you need.

I found the image on the artist’s website. Now how do I cite it?

Follow the guidelines of whatever citation style you are using. Detailed examples are available on the UW Libraries Images Guide.

Categories: citation
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