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Art - African and Diaspora Art Research Guide

Citing Sources & Styles

Citation is an important element in research and creating new knowledge: crediting the scholarship and community ideas that you're building on, and creating a path for your readers to follow your process. The basic principle is to include all information necessary to track down a resource, but different citation styles format that in different ways:

Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide online; also consult the print manual at REF Z253 .U69 2017 [humanities & some social sciences]

• MLA Style Quick Guide and MLA guidelines from the OWL at Purdue; also consult the print manual at REF LB2369 .G53 2016 [humanities]

• APA guidelines from the OWL at Purdue; also consult the print manual at REF BF76.7 .P83 2010 [social sciences]

• ACS Style Guide basics from UW-Madison [chemistry] 


Citation management

There are several tools that can help you keep track of and organize your sources, and format notes and bibliographies in your papers. Zotero is the freely available tool we recommend, developed specifically for academic research, that helps you collect, manage, annotate, and cite your sources. It's available in all computer labs on campus, and you can download it on your own computer.

Citing & Captioning Images

Images and illustrations need to have proper citations, to credit the scholarship you're building on and create a path for your readers to follow. Images, artwork, or photographs used in publications or papers should also be accompanied by a caption. Captions go directly under images and describe the image and give contextual information, but do not contain full citation information. Image citations should be compiled into a list of illustrations or an appendix. It is appropriate to include information about both the image and the source of the image in captions or notes and lists of illustrations or bibliographies. Images from print sources and electronic resources have different citation forms. Always consult a style manual for formatting guidelines. Check with your professor or advisor to determine which style your department requires.

Some citation examples (using Chicago Manual of Style)

Image downloaded from museum website:
Caravaggio, The Denial of Saint Peter. Early 15th century. Oil on canvas, 94 x 125.4 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (accessed September 29, 2009).

Image scanned from a book:
Alice Neel, Nancy and the Rubber Plant. 1975, Oil on canvas, 203.2 x 91.4 cm. The Estate of Alice Neel. Ann Temkin et al. Alice Neel. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000. Plate 64.

Image downloaded from ARTstor:
Rogier van der Weyden, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. 1430-1432, Diptych panel, 18.5 x 12 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. ARTstor, (accessed September 30. 2009).

Image downloaded from Flickr Commons:
Thomas Eakins, William Rudolf O'Donovan. 1981, Black and white photographic print, 6 x 8 cm. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Flickr Commons, (accessed September 29, 2009).


Appendix or List of Images
Images and figures are usually compiled into an Appendix, Bibliography, or List of Figures. Check with your advisor for specific requirements.
You will usually need the following information about the image and its source to cite a work of art properly:

  • Creator/artist name, if known

  • Title of the work, if known. If not, describe the image.

  • Date

  • Repository (if it comes from an museum or archive) or owner of work

  • Location of repository or work

  • Dimensions of the work (for artworks, such as paintings, drawings, sculptures, art photography, etc.)

  • Materials or medium (for artworks, such as oil on canvas, marble, found objects, etc.)

  • Institution granting permission for use (if needed; often owner or published source)

  • Author, title, publisher information, date, and page, figure or plate number of the reproduction if the image is from a book

  • Electronic resource or web site name if applicable, address (URL), and the date you retrieved the image

Zotero for Managing Sources

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free tool that collects, manages, and formats citations and bibliographies. You can attach PDFs, notes, and images to your references; arrange your sources into collections for different projects or classes; and tag them for easy searching or to jump-start chunks of your writing. Insert citations to Word or Google Docs as you write, and create a formatted bibliography or works cited page with one click!

Check out our Zotero "step by step" guide to try it out yourself, sign up for a library workshop to get started, or make an appointment with a research librarian for troubleshooting and pro tips—it's especially useful to get started with it early in a big project. Questions? Ask a librarian, at the reference desk or virtually!

The library provides unlimited storage to all Zotero users! We strongly recommend that everyone register for a Zotero account to have a backup and sync your Zotero library. Use your Amherst email address, and your unlimited storage will automatically be visible under Settings > Storage. If you registered with a different email address, you can add your address to your account when logged in at

Contact the Writing Center

Need to hone your writing or oral presentation skills? Amherst College's Writing Center Associates are available to meet with you to discuss your specific class assignment, honors thesis, application essay, creative writing project, or speech.