I used three images from Wikipedia to compose them to a new image. All other images (not that many) are created by myself.

How should I cite them?

The images are:

I currently use the following text below the description (within the caption):

The image of a desktop computer on the top left is from \url{https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Computer-aj_aj_ashton_01.svg} and was created by an unknown artist, the server image on the top right is from \url{https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Server-multiple.svg} and was created by RRZEicons and the images that was used three times for classification workers is from \url{https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Server_by_mimooh.svg} and was created by Mimooh.

  • 1
    This kind of images are not worth such a long explanation. Just replace them with something that you can use without any explanations or references. (E.g., symbol font or clip art with a permissive license.) Nov 1, 2014 at 22:04
  • Are you using your new image in a paper or other surrounding document, or just distributing it by itself?
    – BrenBarn
    Nov 1, 2014 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


The first image is sourced to OpenClipArt.org, which releases images into the public domain specifically to simplify your life in cases like this. OpenClipArt specifically releases under the Creative Commons Zero license to enable this. For such images, as well as anything else in the public domain (e.g., most images published by the US Government), there is no requirement for specific attribution.

It is courteous to add a discrete note on the sourcing, and it would be dishonest for you to claim to be the artist, but the a major part of the reason that people build public domain image repositories is to let people build them into diagrams and other images without dealing with the attribution problem that you face. Since there are lots of these sorts of server diagram images on OpenClipArt.org, I would strongly suggest that you see if you can replace your current images with public domain images.

If you don't do this, then for the attribution-required images the figure caption should include the website references, just as you would reference a paper that you reproduced an image from. For example, you may phrase it: "Server images adapted from [cite1,cite2]" where the citations give the appropriate online document citation, just as you would if you were citing any other webpage. This is kind of a pain, and easy to lose track of if you reuse the images in other contexts, which is why I strongly recommend using non-attribution licensed images whenever possible.

  • What are some non-attribution licenses?
    – Geremia
    Nov 26, 2016 at 23:02
  • Creative Commons Zero is one example. Public domain is another example. Much of what is published by the US government is also available without a requirement for attribution.
    – jakebeal
    Nov 27, 2016 at 12:29
  • I discovered on "Announcing (and explaining) our new 2.0 licenses" why they discontinued the non-attribution option: «Our web stats indicate that 97-98% of you choose Attribution, so we decided to drop Attribution as a choice from our license menu … Important to remember: Attribution can always be disavowed upon licensor request, and pseudonymous and anonymous authorship are always options for a licensor, as before.» So, if you want non-attribution now, they suggest being pseudonymous or anonymous.
    – Geremia
    Nov 28, 2016 at 2:05

For small, relatively generic images like this, it is not typically necessary to cite the full sources directly in the image caption. Rather, you could include a note in the references section of your paper, saying "Figure 1 makes use of these images from Wikimedia Commons..." and then list the URLs and whatever other attribution info is needed. If you wanted, you could also include a brief note in the image caption saying "See references section for image credits". Giving due credit to the creators of these images is the stand-up thing to do, but in practice, it is extremely unlikely that anyone will ever know or care whether you properly cited them in a case like this.

(Of course, I'm not a lawyer and my opinion counts for nothing legally. This is just my impression of common practice among academics who make use of internet images in their own diagrams, slide presentations, etc.)

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