The most important rule when putting a picture in a college essay is the relevance of the image. It should enhance readers’ understanding, not replace your own argument nor pad paper length, warns the Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Choose clear images, sizing them so that they are not pixelated or distorted. Caption and citation guidelines depend on whether you use American Psychological Association or Modern Language Association style.

Worth a Thousand Words

APA style requires a figure number and caption below each image; the caption provides the title and a brief explanation. Limit the width to one or two columns and the height of the page margins. Include copyright information in the caption, recommends George Washington University’s Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library. In your references list, include the creator’s name, date, title, format and URL; the format is Web. MLA style also calls for numbering images, but captions can be either titles or explanations, according to the Purdue Online Writing Lab. If you provide full bibliographic information with the image, you don’t need to include it in the Works Cited list. Give the creator’s name, title, publication information -- such as the publisher, the website title or the organization name -- date and format, which is Web. With both styles, refer in your text to the image by number: “See Figure 1.”