APA 7th edition style guidelines for images

Image reproduced in a document

According to APA style, when any kind of visual display (other than a table) is reproduced in a work, it should be treated as a figure. This includes photographs, drawings, bar graphs, infographics and other illustrations. The reference details are displayed with the figure and also included in the reference list.


The components of a figure are:

  • Number: The figure number (e.g. Figure 1) appears above the figure in bold.
  • Title: The figure title appears one double-spaced line below the figure number, in italics and capitalised
  • Image
  • Legend (only relevant if reproducing a chart or other image containing symbols that need to be explained)
  • Note: This appears below the figure and the purpose is to describe the contents of the figure that cannot be understood from the figure title or image. This is also where the copyright attribution is placed. A reproduced or adapted image requires a copyright attribution. 

Reference list

See reference list examples [PDF 234KB]

Please note: 

  1. Authors intending to publish their work (including theses) must, before publication, obtain permission from the copyright owner or comply with any stated licencing conditions (such as a Creative Commons licence).
  2. Students using images in assignments submitted as part of their course do not need to ask permission from the copyright owner under Fair Dealing for Research or Study in Australian copyright law. However, “fair dealing” does not apply if the images are made available to anyone outside the course of study. This includes sharing your work (if the images are included) online or with potential employers. Otherwise you will need to obtain the copyright owner’s permission or omit the images.

Referencing a reprinted image when permission is not necessary

In the body of the paper, for example:

Figure 1 shows the highly ornate…

Figure 1

Springthorpe Memorial

From Cemetery Architecture of Australia by D. Eade, 2020, p.18. Copyright by Art Architecture Books.

Reference list

See examples

Referencing an image when permission to reproduce it has been obtained from the copyright holder

For example:

The ceiling of the Springthorpe Memorial, as seen in Figure 2, provides a colourful contrast to the sober, neoclassical elements of the building.

Figure 2

Stained Glass Ceiling, Springthorpe Memorial

Reprinted from Stained Glass Ceilings in Australian Architecture, by A. B. Light, 2018, (http://ahas.org.au/stainedglassceilings_image1). Copyright 2020 by Australian Historic Architecture Society. Reprinted with permission.

Reference list

See examples

Referencing an image you created yourself (i.e. your own work) such as photograph

A figure or image created by you, and reproduced in your paper, would not need a figure note as no copyright attribution would be required. However, if the image requires more description or explanation than that provided by the title, you may wish to include a figure note. No reference list entry is required.

Please note that an exception to this is where an author seeking to publish wishes to use an image they created that has already been published as the copyright may now reside with the publisher (see the note for Figure 1).

For further information, go to the Academic Writer database and look at Figure components or Sample figures, or check out APA’s webpage Figure setup.

Image not reproduced in your work 

When you refer to an image without including a copy of it in your work, include it in the reference list and insert an in-text citation.

In-text citation

Images of Cathy Freeman’s distinctive, green and gold, running suit (Munday 2000), worn at the Sydney Olympics in 2000…

Reference list

See examples

For further examples, go to Sample references in the Academic Writer database and select 'Audiovisual material', or check out APA’s webpage Audiovisual media.

Swinburne Design students

In some Design units, the preference is for the figure number and reference details to be displayed in the note below the figure and also in the reference list.

In the body of the paper, for example:

As demonstrated in Figure 1, cemetery architecture at that time…

Figure 1. Syme Memorial. Reprinted from “Edwardian Melbourne and Cemetery Architecture,” by J. J. Lintel, A. Corbel, and P. T. Rafter, 2019, Cemetery Art and Architecture, 20(1), p.5 (https://doi.org/10.1030/yho0000359). Copyright 2019 by Doodle, Quiff & Co.

Reference list

See examples

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