Captions give us information about the pictures we see everyday in the forms of media we digest. What about all those Instagram pictures you see everyday? How would you know what it is you are looking at? Where are the pictures being taken? Who is in the picture? When was it taken? These questions are meant to be answered by captions when you see a picture. The best captions are concise, written in one to two sentences, but they also create value for the reader. Captions also give enough information to the reader to understand the picture but leaves enough so the reader will still be intrigued to read the rest of the story.
Throughout writing a caption there are a few important aspects to focus in on and those are how they should be concise and accurate. Captions also help readers identify and explain your photos, which is vital. Another note to add is the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) that are questions that should be answered within a proper caption.
The breakdown of a caption starts with the first sentence and that describes who is in the photograph and what is going on within the photo written in the present tense. The second sentence includes additional relevant observations from photographer written in the PAST tense!
David Brindley, National Geographic magazine editor says,”Photo captions are an integral part of newspaper storytelling. A poorly executed caption can destroy the message of a photo or the story package of which it is a part of.” Captions create a story that is created from the picture and the story related to the picture. If you are unable to execute a proper caption then information about the caption can be confused and the reader can become frustrated and we don’t want that!
One important factor of caption writing is the ability for the author to identify all the people in the photo. If you are writing the caption, you absolutely have to ID subjects left to right because it will give the reader a fair chance to understand who is in the photo. Noting what the subjects are wearing and making sure all names are legible are important in the process of caption writing. You wouldn’t want someone’s mom or dad to read your story and see their son or daughter’s name spelled incorrectly!
Captions are easy to read but why aren’t all of them good? The difference between a good and bad caption comes to back to the knowledge of the AP style guidebook. AP style guidebook keeps the integrity of the journalist and helps keep captions concise and easy to read. Everyone wants to have the best captions but without the knowledge of the AP style guidebook then it will be hard to produce a rememberable caption for readers. AP style guidebook gives us the correct information of how to write a date, city, country or state in any publication that uses a journalistic standard.