I am currently working on my bachelor's thesis in computer science in Germany. I have created a few charts/graphs, making heavy use of icons downloaded from http://www.thenounproject.com/.

Most of the icons I did use are published under a Creative Commons license. I am not sure how to credit the authors of the icons. The website states the following for books:

The attribution should be displayed either on the same page as the symbol, with the colophon, in the bibliography or Credits section.

The license text (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/) states the following for attribution:

If supplied, you must provide the name of the creator and attribution parties, a copyright notice, a license notice, a disclaimer notice, and a link to the material.

I don't think it makes sense to credit the authors of the icons in the bibliography of the thesis though.

How is the usual procedure to give picture credit in theses? Is it considered appropriate to use these kinds of graphics for illustration in academic contexts?

  • Theses usually have an acknowledgment section at the beginning where you can add a sentence. In my thesis I added something along the lines "I would like to thank developers D1, D2 and D3 for their codes C1, C2 and C3 which were used in the course of this work". In the bibliography you could give a web link.
    – Miguel
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:04
  • Thank you. I have updated the question since it appears that a lot of "licensing conditions" do apply.
    – mritz_p
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:16

2 Answers 2


Personally, I would go for the colophon option. This will be a natural place to look for anyone who has ever read a book, and it doesn't "interfere" with the scholarly work you are presenting.

Captions of figures are also fine, but if you use the icons in more than one figure, I would definitely prefer to place the credit in the colophon.

In the end it is primarily an aesthetic choice, but I agree with not putting them in the bibliography.

  • The text would get a bit too lengthy for the caption, so I will use the colophon. Thanks.
    – mritz_p
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 8:37

I would add the information to the figure caption. Something like "The icons are courtesy of ABC." If there are a lot of figures with difficult to attribute icons, I might refer readers to a footnote or even an appendix. I am not sure that the icons being released under creative commons really matters in terms of how you attribute them.

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