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Pictures, Tables, Figures, & Copyright

Pictures (photographs, illustrations, figures) are often used to illustrate papers, posters, and PowerPoint presentations. Like other information, their source must be cited. In addition, because they are taken as a "whole" piece from another work, they require a copyright statement in the note under the image as well as a full citation to the original source on your references page (see APA, 2019, pp. 384-391).

Tables and figures are treated as pictures for reference purposes when they are reproduced in your paper. Even though the data they contain is meant to be shared for academic purposes, they too require a copyright statement in the note caption (APA, 2019, pp. 198-199, section 7.7, pp. 384-386, sections 12.14 & 12.15).

Copyright Statements

The format of the copyright statement depends on the type of source from which the image or data was taken. Some images, especially photographs, which are not created by the source author, must also give author credit to the photographer. Click on the tabs on the left side of the screen to find examples of copyright statements for different types of sources.


If you are using images from other sources for an assignment in your class, you do not have to ask for permission to use the image. Permission is not typically needed for student papers if the copied or adapted material is taken from a scholarly journal the purpose for using the material is academic. No more than three figures or tables can be used (APA, 2019, pp. 387-389, section 12.17). To follow correct APA style, you will need to give a copyright statement. Do not use any image that is commercial or does not have a creative commons copyright license.


Images, data, and significant parts of text that are being reproduced in work you intend to publish must be granted permission from the original author as well as provide a copyright statement acknowledging that author. If in doubt, contact the the copyright office.

Permission Requirements

You must always check the copyright status of any image you use. Use of many images is only granted if you pay to use the image and if you are given permission. If you are writing for professional purposes, you must always seek permission from the copyright holder. In student papers, reprinting or adapting figures and tables is often allowed without asking for permission if the source is academic and the material is being used in a student paper that will not be published. However, no more than three figures or tables can be used  (see APA, pp. 387-388, note 12.17).

The concept of "fair use" allows students to use images in their assignments because their use is for educational purposes only. This means that as long as the copyright statement and reference citation are given and as long as the image being used is not for sale, the image can be used.

APA is very clear on the two points: 

1. Do not use images that are clearly for sale or that are marked as not to be reprinted or reproduced.

2. Do not use the permission statement if you have not asked for and received permission.

To view an example of a figure with copyright statement, click here.


American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). 037/0000165-000

Lee, C. (2016). Navigating copyright for reproduced images: Part 4. Writing the copyright statement." Retrieved from


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