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APA – Citing Sources

Tags: English

Pictures and Copyright

Pictures, figures, tables, illustrations, photos, art and other material that is published in printed or digital form is protected by copyright law. You are for example allowed to use and cite the data included in tables and figures, but if you want to use the table or figure in its entirety you need to consider whether it might be copyrighted material.  

If you want to use published material you therefore first need to find out whether and how you are allowed to use and publish the material. The copyright information can for example be stated together with the picture, somewhere on a website or on one of the first pages of a book or a journal. There are often licenses and agreements that allow you to use the material and if there is not, you can contact the copyright holder or the publisher and ask permission to use their material. 

Creative Commons

Sometimes you will find a Creative Commons license that tells you how the material can be used. There are six different types of licenses depending on how the copyright holder allows the material to be used, if you for example can make changes in the material or if it can be used for commercial purposes. Regardless of what license the material has, you always need to cite the copyright holder when you use it in your own production. 

You can read more about the different CC licenses on Creative Commons.

Citing according to APA

You include the reference to the material you have used in your reference list and also in a note underneath the material. In the note you include:  

  • "From" if the material is reprinted or "Adapted from" if you have made changes in the material.
  • The title, author, year, and source of the material. 
  • Provide the copyright status of the material, for example, information about the CC license.
  • If you have sought and obtained personal permission from the copyright holder, you also include the permission statement as requested by the copyright holder. 


  • Note. From Daily Exercise (p. 18), by A. James, 2021, Sports Publishing. Copyright 2021 by the publisher. Used with permission. 

You find more information on how to write your references in Reference examples and the different material types in our guide here. Also, see the examples from APA Style:

APA Style: Image with no attribution required
APA Style: Image that requires an attribution

Permission from copyright holders

If you don't find a license or agreement, you yourself have to contact the copyright holder/publisher and ask for permission to use the material. 

Explain in what context you want to use the material and where it will be published. Save the permission you receive since there might be legal consequences when using copyright material without permission. 

Pictures you can use without permission

Further reading

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