Subject Librarian for Art and Architecture
Visual Materials Processing Archivist
Curator, Modern Graphic History Library
Art and Architecture Librarian
We cite sources to
Doing so allows you to
Caption vs Citation
What is a Caption?
Captions can serve as both the caption and citation for images.
Location: The caption is located in proximity to an image, while the citation may appear as a footnote, endnote, bibliography or list of illustrations.
Caption - A caption appears typically below the image and serves to identify or describe the image and credit the source. It lets the person seeing the image confirm where it came from, know who created it and other details such as the date. There is no standard format for captions.
Architect/Designer, "Title of image." Type of illustration. Photographer (if applicable). Date of image. Edited (if applicable). From [Source], Source date. URL, (Date accessed).
“Groundplan of the building committee's design.” Floorplan. From The Crystal palace, its architectural history and constructive marvels, 1851. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/44192/44192-h/44192-h.htm#f22 (accessed September 25, 2020).
"Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco" by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Academic work including essays and papers require you to use a specific citation style (e.g., Chicago, APA, MLA) for bibliographies. Each style has a guide or manual advising how to format sources. If you are not sure what style to use, ask you instructor. Below are some examples for images.
Chicago Manual of Style (online)
A caption may consist of a word or two, an incomplete or a complete sentence, several sentences, or a combination. There is no standard format. The goal is to identify the image, credit the creator and provide source information.
Figure 1. Dorothea Lange, “Black Maria” police van, 1957
Dorothea Lange, Black Maria, Oakland, 1957, printed 1965, gelatin silver print, 39.3 × 37 cm, Art Institute, Chicago, http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/220174.
Lange, Dorothea. Black Maria. Oakland. 1957, printed 1965. gelatin silver print, 39.3 × 37 cm. Art Institute, Chicago. http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/220174.
Fig. 1. Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, ca. 1890. Wichita Art Museum. Toward an American Identity : Selections from the Wichita Art Museum Collection of American Art. By Novelene Ross. Wichita, Kan.: Wichita Art Museum, 1997. 107. Print.
Place images as close as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate. The image should be labeled as Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.), assigned an arabic numeral and given a caption. A label and title or caption ordinarily appear directly below the illustration and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper. Captions should be numbered consecutively.
Source: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009.
The College Art Association's Art Bulletin style is a modification of the Chicago Manual of Style.
Captions should be numbered consecutively. Figure numbers do not include a period.
The Art Bulletin includes full caption information, whenever available and appropriate, in this order:
Caption written in AB Style:
1 Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, ca 1890, Oil on canvas, 35 ½ x 25 3/8” (90.1 x 64.5 cm). Wichita Art Museum, Whichita, Kansas, Roland P. Murdock Collection, M109.53 ( © Wichita Art Museum 2002 )
Further examples and exceptions are available on CAA's Guidelines page under, Captions.