Guide to Creating Captions for Digital Images

Best practices for crediting digital images online:

  • Always use open source or public domain images, or get permission in writing from the creator/owner/subjects to publish the image
  • Always provide a caption for the image as close to the image as possible (ideally, immediately below the image)
  • Caption credit should include these core elements: Creators’ name(s); Title of source; Medium (if relevant), Title of Container; Volume (if relevant), Publisher (if relevant), Publication Date, location. Public Domain or Permission/License.
  • Note that the creator(s)’s name(s) are in regular order, because there is no need for alphabetization in a caption.
  • At the end of your online publication, include the following copyright statement: “Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.”
  • Remember: “fair dealing” means you should restrict the number of images to ONE from a single source; if you use more than one image from a single source, be sure you analyze the images so that they are clearly part of your argument and evidence.


Example Item Type Caption
Comic Book Cover C.T. Legault (a). Active Comics. No. 1, February 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada: Cover. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Comic Book Page or Panel C.T. Legault. Panel from “Dixon of the Mounted.” Active Comics, No. 1, February 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 13. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.


Poster A.Y. Jackson (a), and Canada Wartime Information Board. From a painting by A.Y. Jackson. This is Our Strength: The New North. Broadside. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain.


Newspaper Photograph “Miss Hide Hyoto; British Columbia’s only Japanese public school teacher; who is serving voluntarily; after her school closes; at Hastings park; Vancouver. With her are Midori Jane; six; left; and Naomi; aged ten.” Toronto Star 1942, Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library, Toronto Star Photo Archive. Toronto Star License.