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Images: A Guide to Visual Resources

Figures and Captions

Citing each work properly, and in sufficient detail, is critical. The Library and the Visual Resources Center in the Art History Department recommend starting with these sources:

  • Chapter Three in the Chicago Manual of Style, which includes a detailed discussion of captions for art works and examples of usage.
  • The College Art Association's Publication Style Guide, which provides instructions on formatting captions as well as examples for a variety of work types, including architecture, book illustrations, engravings, installation views, interiors, manuscript illuminations, murals, paintings, performances, photographs, scrolls, sculptures, video games, video stills, and woodcuts.
  • Dissertation writers in the humanities should consult Images for Dissertation, a guide to getting started, campus resources, creating captions, copyright assessment, requesting and obtaining permissions, image quality assessment, and services offered dissertation writers by the Visual Resources Center.

Examples of captions using Chicago Manual of Style

Image scanned from a book reproduced in a paper: 

Fig. 1. Palermo Exhibiton. February 6-March 1 1968, archive of Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf. From: Blinky Palermo: Abstraction of an Era. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Figure 41.

 Image downloaded from ARTstor reproduced in a paper: 

Fig. 2. Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick C. Robie House. 1906-1909, Architectural Model, 23.2 x 125.3 x 54.3 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Collection, New York, New York. Available from: ARTstor, (accessed September 18, 2018).

Image downloaded from museum website reproduced in a paper:

Fig. 3. Caravaggio, The Denial of Saint Peter. Early 15th century. Oil on canvas, 94 x 125.4 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. From: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (accessed September 20, 2018)

Image downloaded from Flickr Commons reproduced in a paper:

Fig. 4. Thomas Eakins, William Rudolf O'Donovan. 1981, Black and white photographic print, 6 x 8 cm. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Available from: Flickr Commons, (accessed September 19, 2018.

Image with a Creative Commons License downloaded from a museum or other cultural heritage website:
The citation of Creative Commons-licensed materials is not discussed in CMoS 17. The general format should be:
Fig. 5. Title of work [linked to original image] by Author [linked]. Used under [creative commons license, linked].

Find a Style Manual

Find a style manual at the University of Chicago Library.