In this edition of “What I learned,” multimedia editor Jessica Chapa shares her notes on photo cutlines, a session she attended the College Media Association/Associated Collegiate Press national convention in Austin. Thanks, Jessica, for sharing your advice to help move The Shorthorn forward.
Breathing Life Into Your Cutlines – Kevin Kleine, Barry College
This session was super helpful! For me, the struggle is real when it comes to writing cutlines (I take photos for a reason, y’all), and when I found out there was going to be a session about cutlines, I knew I had to attend it.
Some common issues I see with cutlines is that the sentences are vague and too short.
Before you begin:
- Interview people for context in your cutlines
- Get details
- Get viable quotes to use
- Make sure you’re getting it written down verbatim
- Make sure the spelling of the name is correct
Cutlines should have two sentences.
- First sentence should include:
- The who, what, when and where
- Write in present tense
- Second sentence should include
- Why and how
- Background info
- Can use a quote or extra fact
How to write a good caption:
- Be specific and try to give as much detail as possible.
- For sports captions, you can give the scores and info about a particular action in the photo and its effect on the outcome.
The dont’s of writing cutlines:
- Don’t use the same pattern over and over.
- Don’t state the obvious- try to add info that’s not in the story.
- Don’t use cliche cutline phrases like: pictured above, seems to, attempts to.
- Avoid passive verbs like is, are, was, were.
Note from Beth: What are your thoughts? Add to the conversation by posting below.