Skip to Main Content

Chicago referencing: Illustrations, tables and captions

Referencing: creating footnotes and bibliographies in the Chicago style,


Instructions for assignments, including the MA dissertation

Each illustration must have a caption.

Do not include any discussion in captions.

Neither captions in any assignment, nor the list of illustrations in the MA dissertation, is included in the word count.

Do not include illustrations in your bibliography.

Illustrations should be grouped together after your bibliography. You may if you wish make an exception for any graphs where it will be particularly helpful for the reader to see the graph on the same page as your discussion of it. Such graphs may be embedded at the relevant place in your text. 

In the MA dissertation, a list of illustrations must appear immediately after the list of tables or, if tables are not used, immediately after the table of contents. Each entry in the list of illustrations duplicates the caption for that illustration. No such list is necessary in other assignments.

Tables are not illustrations and should be treated slightly differently: see instructions for tables at the foot of this page.

Please check the instructions for each assignment, in case there are guidelines for illustrations which override, or add to, those given here.


Examples of captions

Illustration of artwork sourced from online

Fig. 1. Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race, 1912. Oil on canvas (80.3 x 100.3 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Source:, ©2021.

This example shows the full range of information you will ideally provide for an artwork: artist, title, date, medium, dimensions and location, as well as the source you have used. See the FAQ below if you do not have the full information.


Illustration of artwork sourced from book

Fig 1. Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race, 1912. Oil on canvas (80 x 100 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Source: Vere, Bernard. Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909-39. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018, plate 1.

Please note: illustrations in a book may appear on regular pages or as plates; the above example is for a plate.  If the illustration had appeared on a page, the final element of the caption would be in this form:  p. 82.  Unlike regular pages, plates have a different numbering sequence and are often on a different kind of paper.


Installation view of individual artwork

Fig. 2. Tracy Emin, My Bed, 1998. Mixed media (dimensions variable). Installation view, Tate Britain, London, 2015. Source: Allen, S. ‘Tracy Emin’s bed’, Instagram, 4 April 2015. Available at:

This example shows how to caption an installation view of an artwork. It also shows how to reference an image from social media.


Installation view of exhibition or display space, not focussing on a particular artwork

Fig. 3. The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London, 2015-16. Source: photograph by author, 6 January 2016.

This example shows how to reference your own photograph. The photograph is a general view of an exhibition that took place at Tate Modern in 2015-16.


Consumer goods

Fig 6. Mulberry, Mini Iris Hobo. Source: Addicted to Handbags. 'Our top Mulberry picks currently available on the website,' Instagram, 21 January 2023. Available at:


Retail or hospitality space: interior or exterior

Fig. 5. Fortnum & Mason, flagship store, London. Source: photograph by author, 10 February 2023.


Fig 5. Fortnum & Mason, St Pancras International, London. Source: photograph by author, 10 February 2023.

It is sufficient to give the name of the city when there is only one branch in that city. However always identify a flagship location as such.



Fig. 4. Artprice, ‘Andy Warhol price index, 2010-2018’, 2018. Source:

This example shows how to reference a graph captured from a website. If you have created a graph yourself you can use this wording: Graph created by author, with data from ...



What if I do not have the full information about an artwork?

This is common and not a problem. Simply indicate where information is unknown or doubtful, using wording such as:

Unknown Chinese artist, probably 13th century

Attributed to Ma Lin

dimensions unknown

location unknown


How do I give the dimensions of an artwork?

Give dimensions in centimetres, including divisions of a centimetre if these are given in your source.  Convert to centimetres if inches are given in your source, rounding up or down to the nearest whole centimetre.  Dimensions should be of the unframed work; however if your source is unclear about this, simply repeat whatever dimensions are given, while converting to centimetres as usual.


How do I caption a detail of an artwork?

If you also include an illustration of the entire artwork, then the caption can simply read:

Fig. 3. Detail of fig. 1.

If the whole artwork is not illustrated elsewhere in your assignment, use this format:

Fig. 1. Detail of: Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race, 1912. Oil on canvas (80.3 x 100.3 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Source:, ©2021.


How do I caption decorative art and design?

Note the following differences from fine art:

  • dimensions are not needed
  • materials are not needed, though they may be appropriate in the case of pieces made of a single material.


How do I caption architecture?

If you are illustrating architecture as an example of the architect's work, use this format:

I. M. Pei, Pyramid, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1983-9.

If you are illustrating architecture for other reasons, your caption can be simpler.  So when including a photo of a museum for its museological rather than architectural interest, you may omit the architect's name and date(s) of construction.


What about tables I create?

Tables are not illustrations. Each table needs a common-sense caption introduced by the wording Table 1, Table 2 etc.

Tables can be either:

  • embedded in the text, if the table contains key information relevant to your argument
  • included in an appendix, if the table contains supplementary information only

In the MA dissertation, a list of tables should come after the contents page and before the list of illustrations. No such list is necessary in other assignments.

The content of tables, table captions, and the list of tables in the MA dissertation, are not included in the word count.