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ARTA: Fine Art & Art History: Citing Sources

This Research Guide will help you find articles, e-books, videos and websites about Art History.

Primary and Secondary Sources

For your art assignment, you may be asked to use both primary and secondary sources.  Watch the short video below to learn how to tell them apart.  And remember, a COPY of a primary source (photograph, postcard, image on a website, etc.) is still a primary source.  It's okay if you're looking at the Mona Lisa in a book and not at the Louvre!

Video courtesy of PVCC Jessup Library.

Google Images

Searching for Copyright-Free Images

Google Images ( is a fast and easy way to search for images to use for an assignment.  However, some images are protected by copyright, and their use can be restricted.  Google added a Usage Rights Filter to its tool bar beginning in August of 2020 to help you determine how images are "licensed:"

Screenshot of Google Image Search Results

The two types of licenses are: 

Creative Commons licenses: These images are usually free to use, but require credit. They may also have limitations on how, or in what context, you can use them. For example, an image’s license might state that you can’t modify it or use it for commercial purposes.
Commercial or other licenses: These images have non-Creative Commons licenses and can be from either free sites or commercial sites that require payment.

After you click on the image you want, look below the image in the right-side panel and click on "License details" to learn how to use the image appropriately:

Google Image Search Results Detail

You can also adjust the Usage Rights setting on the Google Advanced Image Search site,

Find more information about types of usage rights and how they work here:


Citing Images Found through Google

Regardless of usage rights status, proper credit should be attributed to all images you use in your assignments.  Google itself is a just search engine and should not be cited as a source.  Instead, go to the website where the image was originally posted, and cite that website using the style specified by your instructor.  See the options for MLA, APA, or Chicago in the drop-down menu under the Citing Sources tab above.

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