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Captions for Journalism

Learn how to write interesting captions that grab the reader

Julie Brock

on 11 November 2013

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Transcript of Captions for Journalism

Captions are the most read copy in our publications. Therefore, they should read like mini-stories and must answer the who, what, where, why, when, and how. Captions should be detailed and you need to put in as much time to writing them as you do your story.
aption - every photo must have one
nswer - every captions should answer the 5 W's and H
resent tense - while the actions have already occured, start the first sentence in the present tense, then the rest is in the past.
wo or three sentences. First sentence is in present, answers the who, what, where, why, when and how. This sentence tells what is obvious in the photo. The second sentence is in past, and tells what may not be obvious in the photo.
nterview - To write a good caption you should always interview your subject. Also, include a quote when you can to tell a more interesting story.
bvious - Don't just state the obvious. Tell the reader more. Also, don't repeat information that is already stated somewhere else on the spread.
ever tell jokes or try to be funny in your captions. Treat your caption as a mini-story and don't write anything that may be hurtful.
huffle - Shuffle your captions so you start each one differently on your spread. Start one with the "where" then another with the "why" and others with -ing verbs. You do not want all your captions to start with the subject's name.
Use strong verbs to start your caption. Do not use the present progressive. Do not say things like, "The fans are cheering from the stands." Rather, write "Cheering from the stands, Graduate Sam Gatzloff gets the Tailgaters pumped up at Spartan Field for the game against Century. The Tailgaters ride the roller coaster to show their creative school spirit.
Every photo must have a caption and must have photo credit attached to it.
You can merge facts together by using transition words like at, during, while, then, in, before, etc., in front of each new fact.
Do not start all your caption with WHO. Shuffle the who, what, where, why, and when. Remember to use the present tense in the first caption and state the obvious, then move to the past tense in all sentences that come after. The information in the following sentences may contain information that is not visible in the photo. Also, try to include a quote to tell a more detailed story.
Do the Shuffle: Using the information listed, write a caption that does NOT start with the subject's name:
: Music teacher, Jennifer Humke

: tapes up the list of students who were accepted as leads for the spring musical, Phantom of the Opera

: outside the auditorium

: anxious choir students have been waiting to see who was chosen as leads after auditions in November

: on December 8, before classes start
Share your captions in groups of four, pick the best one and write it on the board to share with the class.
what are they?
Find a photo from our Spartan Forum Picassa account and write a caption for it. Include a quote, transitions, and do not start it with the person's name.
write great
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