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Writing Effective Photo Captions

About This Course

Even if a picture is worth a thousand words, it still needs a caption to hook your readers and tell the story. From Instagram to The New York Times and more, captions matter.

Whether you write captions for print, digital or mobile platforms, you'll get tools and techniques for compelling and clear captions. We'll discuss best practices about the length of captions and what essential information you should include. And we'll look at lots of examples so you can learn from the best.

What Will I Learn?

  • How to write effective photo captions
  • When to write extensive captions versus cutlines
  • Top tips for writing photo captions
  • The differences in writing for print or digital
  • How to write narrative photo captions for a longer story

Who Should Take This Course?

Editors, writers, producers, designers, photographers, videographers and anyone who works with photographs and captions.

Course Instructor

David Brindley

David Brindley

David Brindley is an editor, writer, researcher and strategic planner. He currently is managing editor for National Geographic and joined the magazine staff in 2002. He has held a succession of roles, including leading the research and fact-checking team and creating the publication’s first copy desk. Previously he was a senior editor at Bon Appétit, a reporter at U.S. News & World Report, and a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution. David is a member of the executive board of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES).

Image Credit: Becky Hale/National Geographic

Training Partner

ACES: The Society for Editing

ACES: The Society for Editing is a nonprofit education and membership organization working toward the advancement of copy editors. Its aim is to provide solutions to editing problems, training and a place to discuss common issues.

The organization is an international members’ alliance of editors working at newspapers, magazines, websites, traditional media outlets and Fortune 500 companies, as well as freelance editors, students and professors. It is an organization built on the advocacy of editing as a craft vital to clear writing and reader advocacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.