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WRITING CAPTIONS THAT WORK Providing context to the photo.

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1 WRITING CAPTIONS THAT WORK Providing context to the photo

2 AN EFFECTIVE CAPTION answers the who, what, where, when and why of every photo in the book draws the readers into the spread is always factual

3 Ineffective captions: Whats my line? or Smile for the camera! Smoky Hill H.S.

4 Effective caption: The Glass Menagerie gets an updated look as Sophomore English 10 Honors student Aaron Tyres films his groups scene for their project. Aaron and four classmates not only modernized the plot, but used iMovie to film these scenes during the first week of October. Mrs. Emerson gave us three weeks to write and one week to film, and we earned an A on the project, said Aaron. Smoky Hill H.S.

5 Choose strong photographs with storytelling appeal. CAPTION GUIDELINE

6 These photos were taken at the same track meet. Which one tells a more interesting story?

7 Consider an impact lead of one or two words or a short phrase to begin the caption and establish its relationship with the photo. CAPTION GUIDELINE

8 POSSIBLE LEAD-INS: Clear sailing. Putting her best foot forward. All clear! The end is in sight.

9 Completely and accurately identify and describe the action and reaction of the photo (without stating the obvious). CAPTION GUIDELINE

10 OBVIOUS: She is running over a hurdle. NOT OBVIOUS: Her name and grade, details of this specific race (including the result), where and when the meet took place and the opponent. CAPTION: ALL CLEAR! In her last meet as a middle school runner, eighth grader Nan Pearson clears the last hurdle in the 100 meters. She won the race against South Middle School on September 20 and finished the season undefeated in this event.

11 Use present tense, active voice for the sentence that captures the action of the photo. This is traditionally the first sentence. CAPTION GUIDELINE

12 Warming up, closer Ryan Rhodes, senior catcher Mark Myers works the bullpen in the home game against Universal High School on April 28. Smoky Hill H.S.

13 Use past tense for subsequent sentences. These sentences add background information and context. CAPTION GUIDELINE

14 Warming up closer Ryan Rhodes, senior catcher Mark Myers works the bullpen in the home game against Universal High School on April 28. Myers entered the game with Rhodes in the top of the seventh inning, and Rhodes earned a save with the 3-2 win. Smoky Hill H.S.

15 A direct quote can provide the caption with human interest appeal as well as more valued information. CAPTION GUIDELINE

16 Warming up closer Ryan Rhodes, senior catcher Mark Myers works the bullpen in the home game against Universal High School on April 28. Myers entered the game with Rhodes in the top of the seventh inning, where Rhodes earned a save with the 3-2 win. Ive waited all season for a chance to help my team win an important game, and this win put us into the playoffs, said Myers. Smoky Hill H.S.

17 FOR GOOD CAPTIONS Choose strong photographs Research to learn the facts Tell what happens before, during and after the action in the photo Include the 5 Ws Avoid writing the obvious Use strong, specific nouns and lively action verbs Grab attention with verbal or visual lead-ins

18 GOOD CAPTIONS ALSO Avoid editorializing Use a variety of sentence structures Make use of complete sentences Identify all the main participants with complete names Use present tense for the sentence that captures the action of the photo (usually the first sentence) Use past tense for all subsequent sentences in the caption

19 AN EASY FORMULA Begin with a lead-in and create style rules for consistency Use present tense for the sentence that captures the action of the photo (usually the first sentence) Use past tense for all subsequent sentences in the caption Consider requiring a quote from the subject of each candid photo

20 IN CAPTIONS, DO NOT State the obvious Begin with names Over-use the same lead-in pattern Use pictured above, attempts to,appears to, or any word not based on the facts of the photo Put words into the mouths of those who are pictured

21 MORE CAPTION DONTS Dont use the obvious (During as a lead, for example) Dont overuse participles and gerunds (- ing words) Dont use the passive verb to be Dont use gag or joke captions Dont fill up the caption with a whole bunch of unnecessary words that just take extra space without adding value

22 BONUS TIPS Attend the event or function. To be an effective reporter, you need to know what you are writing about. Pick up a program at every sporting event (and school performance). This will help tremendously when identifying players on both teams. Write the caption as soon as possible after the photo was taken.

23 MORE CAPTION TIPS Interview the people in the photo. Dont assume you know what they are doing or thinking. Check and recheck the spelling of peoples names. To add variety to caption leads, consider beginning captions on spreads with each of the 5 Ws.

24 GOOD SPORTS CAPTIONS Identify all players by name and jersey number. Include the position of the player (guard, forward, goalie) to add depth to the description. If relevant, include the plays and players that led up to the image.

25 SPORTS CAP GUIDELINES Be sure to include the result of the play shown or the outcome of the game or match. The reader wants to know What happened because of the action shown? Who was involved? Who was the opponent? Who won?

26 CLUSTER CAPTIONS? For years, forbidden by guidelines for yearbook design, they are now seen in journalistic books Echoing their use in the professional press, this is a consistent design decision not a coping device on pages without space adjacent to all photos

27 CLUSTER CAPTION RULES Design the spread to provide adequate room for thorough, story- telling captions. Just because they are all in one block does not mean that each one does not need to provide all answers for each photo. Provide a clear reference from the caption to the specific photograph (i.e. through directional information, numbers, letters).

28 SAMPLE CLUSTER CAPS East Lansing H.S. Carlson H.S.

29 GROUP PHOTO CAPS The key is consistency. ALL group captions in your book should follow the same guidelines. Team group captions should use the same format as clubs group captions.

30 AN EASY FORMULA Begin with the name of the group. Identify each row from left to right. Give clear row designations of Front Row, Second Row, Third Row, Back Row, Not Pictured. Use emphasis type for the name of the group and row designation. Include first and last names of everyone in the group photo.


32 GROUP PIC BONUS TIP Bring a notepad/pen for every row. Label each with the group name and row. (i.e. Art Club, Row 2) Pass pad/pen down the row as soon as the photo is taken. Instruct students to print their first and last names neatly. Collect completed lists from each row. Staple the sheets together to type.

33 DESIGNING CAPTIONS The width of an individual caption is determined by the books grid structure, and many staffs use a consistent cap width throughout the book. Optimal width: 8-13 picas Use a consistent justification pattern throughout the book. Captions should be smaller type than the body copy. If your copy is in 10 point, use 8 point captions.

34 DESIGNING CAPTIONS Consider a lead-in to visually draw your reader into the caption. Each section should have its own consistent device: a drop letter, an all-caps phrase or an echo of the headline can unify the spread and set the captions apart.

35 Notice the depth of detail that this staff included in their captions. Not only do the captions include the obvious, but they allow the reader to learn even more about the people in the photos. Charter Oak H.S.

36 Even an empty auditorium deserves a caption providing lots of detail. Since local students often choose between these two schools, (Michigan State and Michigan), the caption info is important. East Lansing H.S.

37 While the dominant photo often gets the most detailed caption, every photograph deserves the same coverage. By interviewing the player in this photo, the staffer learned details that added depth to the coverage. East Lansing H.S.

38 Extended captions can become stand-alone stories when they provide answers to the 5 Ws and more. Kansas State University

39 This extended caption serves as a lead-in to the complete coverage on the next spread. Kansas State University

40 The caption provides a wealth of specific info about the players and the team for this outstanding photo. Kansas State University

41 When a book uses multiple spreads to cover a topic, one story-telling caption can serve as an effective introduction to that topic. It can also serve as a design element on a theme- related spread. Kansas State University

42 Those staffs using the chronological approach to coverage (covering a week rather than a topic, for example) must make extended captions a priority so that they include all the 5 Ws related to that specific photograph. North Forsyth High School

43 YOU TRY IT Look at the photo on the next slide. Write five questions you would ask the person. Write a lead-in for the caption

44 Possible lead-ins? Important questions? Smoky Hill H.S.

45 WRITING CAPTIONS THAT WORK created in conjunction with Kathy Daly Herff Jones Special Consultant

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