The caption and the cliché

Photo captions count, but we often treat them as an afterthought when we write them. That can lead to errors, confusion or cliché.

It’s the last pitfall that caught my attention recently when I ran across numerous references in captions to people being “all smiles.” It’s a tired phrase that usually states the obvious. Here are some other phrases to avoid in captions:

  • Celebrates.
  • Looks on.
  • Pictured/seen here.
  • Gestures.
  • Shares a laugh/shares a moment.

If you are writing a caption (or a cutline, if you are old school) and catch yourself using one of these phrases, consider a rewrite. Remember that a caption needs to do two things — describe the image and connect it to the story. Using tired phrases impedes that mission.


One Comment

  1. If the photos were better, the editor would have an easier job. As an example: Brad and Angie all smiles as their canoe slips over Bridal Veil Falls. Wedding Bells in their future?

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