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How to Cite an Image in Harvard Style?

Published by at August 27th, 2021 , Revised On August 23, 2023

Images are inserted in a text and then referenced at the end of the manuscript. However, the in-text citations for an image are different from that of non-visual material. The in-text citation for an image is given below the image, where, instead of the author’s name, the image creator’s or photographer’s name is given, along with the image title and the year it was photographed.


In-Text and Reference List Format with Examples

Harvard referencing style uses the following basic format for citing and referencing an image file:

In-text citation: (Name of photographer or creator, Year of Publication)

Reference list entry: Author Surname, Author Initial. (Year Published). Title in italics. [Format, e.g., image] Available at: http://Website URL [Accessed Date Accessed].

For example:

In-text citation: Construct validity is usually thought of as the degree to which assessments measure what they are designed to measure, but since our assessments do much more than provide a score, we think of construct validity more broadly—as the degree to which our assessments accomplish what they are designed to accomplish. (Lectica, Inc, 2014)

Reference list entry: Lectica, Inc, (2014). Validity. [image] Available at: https://dts.lectica.org/_about/las_reliability_validity.php [Accessed 19 Oct. 2014].

However, some institutions also follow this basic format for the reference list entry:

Author(s) of the visual item – Surname and initials year of publication, Title of the visual item in italics, Extra information – photograph/painting etc., Publisher name, Place of publication.


Types of Citations Depending on Source of Image

Citations for image files in Harvard might slightly vary, depending on where the image was taken from.

1.    Charts

Some academic texts include an image that is actually an image of a chart. Whereas some writers create their own charts or copy-paste charts from external sources, some might choose to take a screenshot of a chart from an external source and include that as an image file in their manuscript. In either case, acknowledging the chart’s original creators is compulsory.

Luckily, Harvard has made authors’ tasks easier by keeping the citation and referencing format the same for charts and images. After all, charts are treated in the same way as an image file in Harvard texts. A chart, cited in Harvard, would be cited in the following way, for instance:

In-text citation: (Newton 2007) to be placed directly below the chart or its image.

Reference list entry: Newton, AC 2007, Forest Ecology and Conservation: A Handbook of Techniques, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.


2.    Personal images

If an image has been created by the writer themselves, it’s important that this is mentioned in the text. Otherwise, there will be confusion about whether an external source was referred to for the image.

In Harvard style, a personal image would be cited in the same way as an image created by someone else (as mentioned above), for example:

In-text citation: (Whyle 2008)

Reference list entry: Whyle, M 2008, Untitled [photographs of classroom displays], unpublished photographs.

Where the phrase ‘photographs of classroom displays’ refers to the format of the image, indicating it’s an image(s) of classroom displays.

1.    Clipart images from online software libraries

Cliparts are also a form of image, except that they’re not naturally captured, like one would capture the image of a tree outside, for instance. Rather, cliparts are created using software in computer systems.

Even the everyday use software app in Windows, Paint, can be used to create clipart. Microsoft Word also has texts that are in the form of clipart. They’re textual pieces that are in the form of images.

Such an image is also treated as a normal image. As such, it’s cited in pretty much the same way too. However, in place of an author name, the name of the software and/or the corporation that created and/or uses that software is written instead, for example:

In-text citation: (Microsoft Clip Art Gallery 2010)

Reference list entry: Microsoft Clip Art Gallery 2010, Untitled [gymnast graphic], Microsoft Corporation.

Here, this image is untitled. The word ‘untitled’ is written without italicisation. However, if the title were present, it would have been included and in italics.


2.    Images without creator’s/photographer’s name

Often times an image might be missing its creator’s or photographer’s name. Harvard referencing dictates that authors cite such an image in the same way as that mentioned above. However, the title of the image is treated as the name of the creator or photographer, for example:

(Confrontation during Hong Kong protests 2019) where ‘Confrontation during Hong Kong protests’ is the name of the image, and as the example shows, it’s being used as the creator’s/photographer’s name.


3.    Images without creation or publication dates

As with every other type of material that is missing a date, Harvard also uses the ‘n.d’ abbreviation to indicate ‘no date’ for an image. Furthermore, for images without titles, a brief description of the image is included instead (for example, the phrase ‘photographs of classroom displays’ in the example above) in place of the title. This is followed by the date the image was accessed on or n.d. if not applicable. For example:

(Google, n.d.)


In-text citation: (LookPictures n.d.)

Reference list entry: LookPictures n.d., Love Picture Ducks, photograph,


[Accessed 16 April 2012].

Important point to note: Some institutions recommend not enclosing the format of the image file in [] in Harvard style, such as the t’rm ‘photog’aph’ in the above example shows. However, if this method or any other method for citation is to be followed, it should be kept consistent throughout the manuscript, not to mention in accordance with what the institution has officially recommended.


Citing images viewed in person

Citing images that are viewed physically by oneself, instead of on the internet, are considered to be viewed ‘in person.’ Once they are seen in person, the writer might decide to find them online and then include them in his or her manuscript. One might view an image in person when one sees an image in a/an:

  • Book
  • Art gallery
  • Art exhibition
  • Museum
  • Festival

…and so on.

In Harvard referencing, such images are cited and referenced in the same way as an image originally obtained from an online source. Following are some examples of such ‘in-person sources of images.

The general format is again the same, that is:

Name of institution/art gallery/location insteadcreator’sor’s name in italics image was viewed in followed by when, not separated by any comma.


4.    Image from a book   

Name in italics followed by the year and page number if available. For examplGertsakis’sis’s work, Their eyes will tell you, everything and nothing, 2017, in Millner and Moore (2018, p. 138) …


5.    Image from Flickr

Image title followed by date accessed. For example:

This photo showing a panorama of Austrian mountains (Crazzolara 2018) is of high quality.


6.    Original artwork

Image title in italics followed by date accessed. For example:

JSutherland’snd’s masterly depiction of early morning light at an artist’s camp in Box Hill was particularly admired in her painting The Mushroom Gatherers (1895).


7.    When works have been viewed in-situ

In-situ refers to the original situation in which an image was seen in person for the first time. The general format for citing such images is:

Image title in italics followed by date accessed. For example:

Is DamHirst’sst’s painting Veillove’sve’s secrets (2017) reminiscent of Aboriginal artist Emily KKngwarreye’sye’s workHere’sre’s an example of a Harvard style citation of an original work viewed in a temporary exhibition:

In Wishing Well , Ektoras (2014) demonstrates..


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Frequently Asked Questions

When citing art in Harvard style:

  • Use artist’s last name and year of creation in parentheses.
  • Example: (Smith, 2022) for in-text citation.
  • In bibliography, include artist, year, title, medium, and location.
  • Format: Artist. (Year). Title. Medium. Location: Gallery/Museum.

About Alaxendra Bets

Avatar for Alaxendra BetsBets earned her degree in English Literature in 2014. Since then, she's been a dedicated editor and writer at ResearchProspect, passionate about assisting students in their learning journey.