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Visual Literacy: Citing & attribution

This guide outlines basic visual literacy skills including how to find, evaluate, and use images.

Attribution elements

Basic elements to include in an attribution:




If the image is being displayed electronically, then much of the information can be hyperlinked: the author/creator linked to their profile, the title of the work linked to the website and the license linked to the license deed. 

If an image includes a copyright notice (eg: © A. Author 2018), then this notice needs to be included when you reproduce the image. 

Altering creative commons images

Some Creative Commons licenses allow you to alter the work as long as you indicate that a change or changes have been made. 
Examples of altering an image includes cropping or changing the colour.

The easiest way to show this in your attribution:

“This work is a derivative of…”
and then continue the rest of the attribution as normal.

If you are creating a resource that uses many altered images, use
“This work includes material from the following sources…” 

and then list the images used.

You are not allowed to alter an image if the Creative Commons license specifies No Derivatives (ND).‚Äč

To cite or to attribute?

Just as you add a reference when you directly quote or even paraphrase a resource – you should always acknowledge where you got an image! This means you should always add a citation or attribution.

When to use a...






Any images you use for a scholarly work.

Use the appropriate referencing style (Harvard or APA) for your course.

When a specific referencing style is not required. 

Examples can include presentations.

Citation & attribution examples

Books by Gael Varoquaux / licensed under CC BY 2.0.

CITATION (Harvard):
Varoquaux, G 2018, Books, photograph, Flickr, viewed 28 May 2018,

Varoquaux, G. (2018). Books [Photograph]. Retrieved from

Referencing resources:
ERNI Easy Referencing

Attribution resources: 
Attribution is generally ordered by Title, Author, Source, License. While there is not standard style guide for attributions, it is important to be consistent. For example, the use punctuation marks to separate attribution elements should be consistent. 

Creative Commons Australia, How to attribute Creative Commons licensed materials
Creative Commons, Best practices for attribution 

Keep track & save


Keep track of your images

Make a list as you go. It saves time as it can be tricky to find the info at a later date.

→ Save & Rename

Use file names that describe the image so you can find it again. Be consistent in naming your files.

Poor file name: DSC_001.jpg or Photo1.jpg
Better file name: Books_Photo_Varoquaux.jpg
(uses title, type, author in file name)