How to cite screenshots

by Thomas Mejtoft

When writing a thesis, paper or report, screenshots are from time to time essential for the reader to understand the content of the published version of the report.

When submitting a thesis, report or paper to the University for examination copyrighted figures (e.g. photos, figures, diagrams, etc.) or tables can not be used in the report without permission (this is however a general statement, no publication should contain copyrighted figures without proper permission). This is due to both legal and ethical reasons. Since almost all material is under some type of copyright (if not explicit under public license), this applies to most photos, graphics, illustrations, tables etc. If material is used without the appropriate citation it is regarded as plagiarismIf a copyrighted work is used (i.e. a figure, table, etc. is copied and placed in your work) without permission, it is (most certainly) a copyright violation even if the correct citation is used.

It is the student’s (i.e. your) responsibility to ensure that all necessary permissions are obtained and/or the appropriate credits are given in the text before the thesis is submitted for examination.

Citing and using screenshots in your work

These guidelines are loosely based on the following sources:

What do I need to know about using and citing screenshots? by Simon Fraser University
Citing a Screenshot by the Macodrum Library at Carleton University

When taking screenshots or using other content, it is important to follow the policies and guidelines for the website, software or company of which you are taking a screenshot. The policies differ a lot and must be read carefully. As an example, GoogleMicrosoft and Electronic Arts have policies around the use of screenshots and content. There might also be a need to gain permission to use a screenshot in some cases based on policies and guidelines.

When the appropriate policy have been followed, the reference can be written just as any other reference used with the addition of the text “Screenshot by author”. However, if the screenshot is not made by the author and has e.g. been found on any other page already as a screenshot, that author of the screenshot and page need to be mentioned instead as “Screenshot by Name Nameson, <URL>”. Furthermore, there might be a need to gain permission to use the screenshot.

Figure 1. Screenshot of Google on iPad (Google, 2019).

Google. (2019, May 13). Google search on iPad. Retrieved May 13, 2019, from Screenshot by author.

If the screenshot is not made by the author use this reference style:

Google. (2019). Google search on iPad. Screenshot by Thomas Mejtoft, Retrieved January 6, 2020, from

(First published by Thomas Mejtoft: 2019-05-13; Last updated: 2021-04-22)