How to Cite and Reference Images in PowerPoint Presentations

Using images in PowerPoint presentations can make them more visually appealing and help communicate key information. However, it is important to properly cite and reference any images you use that you did not create yourself. Failing to do so could constitute copyright infringement.

This article provides best practices on how to cite and reference images in PowerPoint presentations.

Why Citing Images is Important

There are several key reasons why you should cite images used in PowerPoint presentations:

  • Avoids copyright infringement: Properly citing images gives credit to the original creator and demonstrates the image is used legally. Many images found online are protected by copyright and require permission or a license for reuse.
  • Enhances credibility: Correctly citing sources, including images, lends credibility and shows you have conducted thorough research.
  • Provides helpful information to the audience: Citations allow viewers to locate the original image if desired. This is especially useful for graphs, charts, or data-driven images.
  • Meets academic integrity standards: Students must cite all sources, including images, to meet academic integrity policies. Failing to do so could constitute plagiarism.

How to Cite Images in Presentations

1. Identify Key Details

To cite an image, you need to identify key details including:

  • Creator’s name
  • Title of work
  • Date of creation
  • Where you accessed the image

This information allows viewers to locate and verify the source.

2. Insert Image Caption

The easiest way to cite images in PowerPoint is by using the built-in “Insert Caption” feature:

  1. Insert image onto slide
  2. Right click image and select Insert Caption
  3. Enter image details into caption box

Captions should be brief but include:

  • Figure number e.g. Figure 1
  • Title/description
  • Attribution details

3. Include Full Reference

In addition to the caption, you should include a full reference to the image source. There are two options for doing this:

  1. Reference slide: Create a dedicated reference slide at the end of the presentation. List the full details for each image source, using numbering to link to your captions.
  2. Slide notes: Add the detailed reference information to the speaker notes section of the slide. Keep notes hidden from audience view.

The reference should include all citation details per the style guide you are following e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago.

Image Reference Examples

Here are examples of how to correctly reference images in PowerPoint presentations:

In-text image citation

Figure 1. The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893, [1]

Image reference slide

  • Figure 1: Munch, E. (1893). [The Scream] [Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard] [29 7⁄8 x 35 3⁄4 in.]. National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.

Speaker notes reference

Figure 1. The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

Full reference:
Munch, E. (1893). The Scream [Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard] (29 7⁄8 x 35 3⁄4 in.). National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.

Tips for Effectively Using Images

  • Choose high quality, relevant images that enhance your content
  • Use a consistent design style and color palette
  • Organize images so they align with your text
  • Provide attribution for all images not created by you
  • Proofread to check image citations are complete and consistent


Using visuals effectively is key for engaging presentations. However, you have an ethical and legal responsibility to cite any images used that you did not create.

Follow the recommendations in this article to seamlessly cite and reference images in your PowerPoint presentations. Properly attributing visuals demonstrates academic and professional integrity.


[1] Munch, E. (1893). The Scream [Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard] (29 7⁄8 x 35 3⁄4 in.). National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.