Photo Captions and Cutlines - the Difference

02 August 2011
Kitty loves spaghetti
The man on the streets uses the terms "caption" and "cutline" interchangeably.

In journalism, the two terms do not mean the same thing. A cutline refers to any textual information that accompanies a photo, while a caption is the headline or title that precedes the cutline.

Can you tell which is which?

Pasta for kitty. Available in tuna or anchovy sauce, the pasta pack retails at $1.50. Royal Spaghetti launched the product Monday at a Feline Park press conference.

As you may well guess, "Pasta for kitty" is the caption. The rest of the statements are the cutline.

In the case of one-liners, the accurate term to use is "cutline." The distinction is not obvious to common folks, which is why today, it is perfectly acceptable to interchange both terms.   

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Most photos use a cutline.
  2. Cutlines may or may not have a caption.
  3. Notwithstanding the headlines, the cutline is the most read text in a broad sheet (or newspaper).
  4. Crafting the cutline requires careful thought.
  5. By journalistic convention, cutlines must be accurate, concise, complete and readable.
  6. Distinguishing the caption is easy. It is the first to appear and it is usually formatted in bold.
  7. When accompanying a cutline, the caption may consist of only a few words or a short phrase.
  8. The cutline typically employs complete sentences.
  9. Just like headlines, the first sentence is usually expressed in the present tense.
  10. The second sentence is expressed in the past tense.*
Copyright © 2012 Teecup Limited. All rights reserved. Powered by Blogger.