How to Cite a Google Image: A Step-by-Step Guide

Alright, so you’ve found the perfect image on Google for your project, paper, or presentation, and you want to use it without stepping on any toes, right? Well, you’re in luck because citing a Google image isn’t as tricky as it may seem. Let’s dive into the simple steps to ensure you give proper credit where it’s due.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Cite a Google Image

Before we jump into the steps, let’s understand why we’re doing this. Citing images is a way to respect the creator’s work and avoid any potential copyright issues. Plus, it makes your work look more professional. Ready? Let’s go!

Step 1: Identify the image creator or copyright owner.

It’s crucial to know who owns the image. Look for a watermark, a name, or any other sign that shows who the creator might be.

When you find an image on Google, it’s not always clear who the rightful owner is. Sometimes, you might have to click on the image and visit the website where it’s hosted to find the necessary details. If you can’t identify the owner, you can use the term "Unknown."

Step 2: Find the title of the image.

This could be as simple as describing the image if there’s no official title. A good title helps those reading your work to understand what you’re referencing without having to see it.

Not all images have a clear title, and sometimes you might have to create one. If that’s the case, keep it brief and descriptive. Imagine you’re telling a friend what the image is about without showing it to them.

Step 3: Determine the publication date of the image.

The publication date can often be found on the website hosting the image. If not, use the date you accessed the image.

Finding the publication date can be tricky, especially if the image is rehosted or shared multiple times. If the date isn’t available, it’s acceptable to use the date you accessed the image for your work.

Step 4: Note the website where you found the image, and the URL.

Write down the name of the website, not just "Google." Google is the search engine, not the source. Don’t forget the URL where the image is hosted.

It’s important to note that while you found the image through Google, Google is not the source of the image. Always credit the website where the image is hosted, as that’s the direct source.

Step 5: Use the correct citation format for your project.

Depending on your project, you’ll use MLA, APA, Chicago, or another citation style. Follow the rules for that style for citing digital images.

Each citation style has its own rules, especially when it comes to digital images. Look up the guidelines for the specific style you’re using to ensure you format your citation correctly.

After you complete these steps, your citation will be ready to be inserted into your project, paper, or presentation. Remember, the goal is to give credit to the image creator and avoid plagiarism.

Tips for Citing a Google Image

  • Always double-check that you have permission to use the image in your work.
  • If you can’t find the creator, consider reaching out directly or choosing another image.
  • Be as specific as possible when describing the image.
  • Keep track of your sources as you go, so you don’t have to backtrack later.
  • Review the citation guidelines for your specific citation style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I can’t find the image creator?

If the image creator is not listed, you can use "Unknown" or "Anonymous" as the creator. However, always try to find the creator’s information if possible.

Can I just use the image without citing it?

Using an image without proper citation could lead to copyright infringement. Always cite your sources to respect the creator’s rights and avoid legal issues.

Is it okay to change the image before I use it?

Altering an image may require additional permission from the creator. If you plan to modify it, check the copyright rules or reach out to the creator.

Do I need to cite free stock images?

Yes, even if an image is free to use, you should still cite it to acknowledge the creator’s work.

Can I use any image I find on Google?

Not all images found on Google can be used freely. Always check the image’s copyright status and usage rights before using it.


  1. Identify the image creator or copyright owner.
  2. Find the title of the image.
  3. Determine the publication date of the image.
  4. Note the website and URL.
  5. Use the correct citation format.


Citing a Google image is all about giving credit where it’s due. In a world where it’s so easy to copy and paste, taking the time to acknowledge someone’s creative work is a sign of respect and integrity. It’s not just about avoiding legal issues; it’s about building a culture of appreciation for the digital art and content that enrich our lives daily. Remember, the next time you find that perfect image, take a moment to cite it correctly. Not only does it show your attention to detail, but it also reflects your commitment to ethical research and content creation. So go ahead, use those images, and cite confidently!