Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. How do I cite text within an image? In a case where an etching or a poster contains text, how do I cite the text within the picture? I can’t find anything about this. Please help!

A. You might as well ask how to cite the text on page 302 of a novel. You’d cite the novel, not the text, and the principle is the same for artwork. If you consulted the etching or poster in a book, you would give details about the image in your text but cite the book; if you consulted it at a museum’s website, you would cite the website. In sum, quote from a source and describe it as needed; then cite the item that you consulted. For example,

The print, which features an atomic icon refashioned into a skull, carries a blunt warning: “Radioactive waste from nuclear power plants stays radioactive and deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.”1


1. Mirko Ilic and Daniel Young, Radioactive Waste, 2010, screen print, 30 1/8 × 22 3/16 in. (76.5 × 56.4 cm), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,

For more examples, see CMOS 14.235.