Adding Captions and Attributions to Images

How to Add a Caption to an Image

Captions should be added beneath images, including photos, charts, graphs, and tables, using the Pressbooks caption button:

  1. Click anywhere on an image you have added.
  2. Locate and click on the pencil icon that appears in the upper left corner of the image.
  3. Enter description in the Caption field.
  4. Add a clear description of the image in the Alternative (Alt) Text field for accessibility purposes.
  5. In general, an image should be no wider than 500 pixels, and the height should be no bigger than 600 pixels. Use the Custom Size feature to adjust this, if needed.
  6. Use “Align” to position the image.
  7. Make sure the “Link to” drop down list points to “Media File” if you want users to be able to open the image in its own window. Otherwise, select “None.”
  8. Click on “Update” and then Save the page.

What to Include in a Caption Description

Table/Figure Number and Description

When adding the caption description, be sure to use a numbering system that incorporates the chapter number and image sequence within the chapter.

After numbering the figure or table, provide a description. There should be no punctuation (period or comma) between the figure number and description.

Here is an example of how a caption should appear beneath an image (see Figure 3.8.1):

Green turtle image example
Figure 3.8.1 Green turtle in its natural environment in Indonesia.

Copyright Attribution

We recommend attributing copyright to works that you have permission to use in an “Attributions” section at the end of a chapter or section rather than in the caption to keep things uncluttered (see bottom of this page for examples). However, authors may choose to include an attribution after any caption number and description if they wish, as shown in Figure 3.8.2:

Photograph of a painting example
Figure 3.8.2 Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Image of painting held at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam by Garrett Ziegler licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

Citing an Image

Cite an image as an in-text citation and reference entry according to the citation style chosen for your work.

Who Gets Attribution for an Image?

It is important to understand WHO to give credit to for an image. Frequently, especially for a work in the public domain, it is not the artist who created the original work. Instead, you must attribute the individual who created the version of the work that you are using in your book or educational resource. In other words, you are giving attribution to, for example, a photographer of an original painting.

Above is a photograph of the famous painting, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt. In the attribution statement, credit is given to the photographer, not Rembrandt.

Attribution Examples

The following attributions are in accordance with those recommended by Creative Commons. Attributions are all included at the bottom of the page to keep information uncluttered.

Creative Commons Licensed Image

photograph of a dog example
Figure 3.8.3 Golden retriever.

Modified Creative Commons Licensed Image

If you have modified the image in some way, indicate this in your attribution statement. The example below for Figure 3.8.4 includes a caption, while the attribution is at the bottom of this page noting the license (CC BY 4.0) and details about how the image has been modified to keep information uncluttered.

Note: If an image includes “ND” (no derivative) as part of the CC license, the image cannot be changed. This includes cropping. 

Cropped image of a dog example
Figure 3.8.4 Golden retriever.

Image with Source Statement

Sometimes it is significant to the textbook subject matter that the source of an image, e.g., a museum collection, be noted as part of the attribution statement. If required and available, a source statement can be included. As with the previous example, see the bottom of this page for the attribution for Figure 12.5 :

Painting from a library collection example
Figure 3.8.5 Painting of the Toronto Rolling Mills, an iron rails factory founded in 1857 by a group of businessmen led by railway magnate Sir Casimir Gzowski.


Figure 3.8.1 Green turtle 4 lekuan 1, siladen, indonesia by q phia licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Figure 3.8.2 Rembrandt, The Night Watch, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam by Garrett Ziegler licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Figure 3.8.3 Dog by David Locke licensed under a CC-BY 2.0.

Figure 3.8.4 Dog by David Locke licensed under a CC-BY 2.0. Modifications to this photo include cropping.

Figure 3.8.5 Toronto Rolling Mills is in the public domain and available from the Toronto Public Library (reference number JRR 1059).

Contains material from “Images: Captions, Attributions and Citations” from the BC Open Textbook Authoring Guide by Lauri Aesoph and Amanda Coolidge. New examples have been added.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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

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