1. AP offers a simple formula for organization: The first sentence of the caption usually describes what the photo shows, noting where and when the photo was taken; the second sentence provides background on the news event or tells why the photo is significant.

2. Captions about recent news can be written in the present tense (e.g., President Shirley Showalter leads the incoming class of Goshen College students on a tour of the campus). But if the sentence includes a time element like yesterday, the verb must change to the past tense (led) or to a participle (leading).

3. Try to keep captions to no more than two sentences.

4. Captions should never tell readers the obvious (e.g., “A couple bicycle along the millrace trail on a bright afternoon” accompanies a photo of two people biking along the millrace trail on a bright afternoon – The Goshen News, Sept. 2, 2001).

5. Don’t waste valuable real estate. The last line of every caption should extend into the final column that the photo occupies.

6. Remember that good quotes can enliven captions.

7. Except in rare cases, as in photos presented as stand-alone abstract art, captions need to identify everything: all faces, places and activities. Even a mug shot running alongside an article that mentions only the person pictured still needs a cutline ID.