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Adding a citation to an image

Note: Two years ago, The Legal Genealogist wanted to show off a favorite program, and so ran a how-to post rather than a why-to post. The question is how to save source citation information on an image, and have that information readily available.

We need a permanent way to keep the citation data on the image, and questions persist on how to do this. Saving the information to metadata (the hidden documentation of an image) won’t always work, because some systems strip the metadata out of an image when it’s uploaded, and it doesn’t necessarily transfer from computer to computer depending on operating system. Renaming the file with the complete source citation often makes the file name too long (although a short rename, such as 1850-UScensus-Cherokee-AL-D.Shew-Ancestry.jpg is a good idea).

So here’s a repeat of the post from two years ago today:

Reader Margel Walker Soderberg carefully read through the (March 2014) post about source citation and why we as genealogists should spend the time it takes to craft a good solid source citation.1 Then she raised a question a lot of people have:

I want to cite my sources correctly and I have tried but . . . Here is one issue I’ve had. Recently I was searching newspapers on the Chronicling America site when I found an article. I cut it out and saved it to the folder on my computer for that person. Even though the citation was listed as the top of the screen for my snip, it doesn’t show when I saved the file. Many of the online documents that I save are in jpeg format so how/where do I put the citation when I save them.2

She added that she’d tried inserting the image into a word processing file, but that didn’t help her find it later. She uses a thumbnail view to quickly scan the images, and all of the word processing documents show up with the same program logo instead of the image.

So… in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the image we’re going to use for this little demonstration is this one:


It’s an image of a stereograph produced about 1901 of “Picturesque life and customs of an Irish village” and depicting “Eight children on cart drawn by two donkeys, in front of thatched cottages, Ireland.”3

But you don’t see any of that information on the image. How do we get it there to stay?

Enter the favorite program. It’s called Irfanview, it’s a photo viewing and editing program, it’s simple to use — and it’s free. (And yes, before you ask, it’s Windows only. But the steps will be basically the same in any basic Mac photo editor too — and, for that matter in any other Windows photo editor.)

And here’s how you use it to put your citation right on the image.

You take the image above and open it in Irfanview. It’ll look like this.


Drop down the Image menu and choose Change canvas size, here:


In the box that appears, add more space, measured in pixels wherever you want it — top, left side, right side. or bottom. Here, I’m adding 100 pixels of space at the bottom in a white canvas color:


Once I click OK, the image will look like this:


Use your mouse and select the area of that newly-added space where you want to add the text:


Drop down the Edit menu and choose Insert text into selection:


Choose your text options — I chose 12 point Georgia font in black — and paste your ready-to-go citation into the center box:


It’ll look like this when you click Ok…


… and like this (I added the border to make it stand out) when you save the file.


All done — and you will never again have to worry about a citation not being with the image you just saved.


  1. Judy G. Russell, “A citation sigh,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 13 Mar 2014 ( : accessed 16 Mar 2014).
  2. Margel Walker Soderberg, comment to “A citation sigh,” posted 16 Mar 2014.
  3. Image description, “Picturesque life and customs of an Irish village,” stereograph (New York : Underwood & Underwood, c1901); Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division ( : accessed 16 Mar 2014).
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