Citing & Attributing Copyright

As you put an open textbook together, be sure to keep track of where information came from and the copyright terms associated with any significant amounts of text or digital media you include. The following section provides guidance on how to communicate this information in your work.

Citing Sources

“Citation” and “attribution” are often used as synonyms, but they mean two different things.

Citation is a scholarly practice for crediting ideas that are not your own, and providing readers with where to locate the source of this information.

As with any published work, be sure to provide complete in-text citations and reference entries in your open textbook using a recognized citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

Reference lists can be included at the end of each chapter or section, or all together in their own section in the back matter of your book.

Attributing Sources

Attribution is about crediting a copyright holder according to the terms of a copyright license.

Attributions are required when including works under a Creative Commons license, and recommended when using works in the public domain. As stated previously in this chapter, if you need to use digital media or significant amounts of text from a work under strict copyright terms, MacEwan’s Copyright Services ( can assist with making a fair dealing assessment and advise on how to attribute these sources, or help explore other options as necessary.

Attributions can be included directly underneath a source, or at the bottom of a chapter or section under an Attributions heading to leave content uncluttered.

For each attribution, include:

  • The title of the work
  • A link to the content (can be embedded in the title text)
  • Author(s)/creator(s)/Copyright holder(s)
  • License type

If you have modified a work, include details about these changes.

Attribution Examples

Audio Attribution

Toads and frogs in pond, village, light distant chatter from villagers by Felix Blume licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal License

Image Attributions

Cropped image of a dog example

Dog by David Locke licensed under a CC-BY 2.0. Modifications to this photo include cropping.

For more examples of image attribution statements, visit: Adding Captions and Attributions to Images.

Video Attribution

How to Create Inclusive and Accessible OER by Carl Abrc licensed under CC BY 4.0

The above is in accordance with recommendations by Creative Commons.
Contains materials from Attribute Open Content from Open.Michigan, and “Attribution Statements and Copyright Notices” in the Ryerson Open Textbook Authoring Guide by Ryerson University, each licensed under CC-BY 4.0.


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MacEwan Open Textbook Authoring Guide Copyright © 2019 by MacEwan University Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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