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Image Caption

You can say a lot with an image. You can also say a lot with words. Instead of arguing about which one is better, why not have both? In your blog, you will want both images and captions to help guide your reader. In some blogs, images are all but mandatory, such as travel blogs. Even Lewis and Clark drew pictures of their travels! Here is how you can make the most of your images using captions.

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Image Caption

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You can say a lot with an image. You can also say a lot with words. Instead of arguing about which one is better, why not have both? In your blog, you will want both images and captions to help guide your reader. In some blogs, images are all but mandatory, such as travel blogs. Even Lewis and Clark drew pictures of their travels! Here is how you can make the most of your images using captions.

Photo Caption

A photo caption or image caption is a written description that sits directly underneath an image. This image can be a photo, drawing, diagram, piece of art, or anything else rendered in an image file format.

In a blog, many of your images will have photo captions.

Image Caption Importance

Captioning your image is essential for four main reasons: to clarify your image, to enhance your image, to cite your image, and to optimize your blog for search engines.

Here is a process to help you create an image caption.

Any image you include that might be unclear needs a caption. You can explain what a diagram means to your blog or argument. If you include a photo of a place, you can specify that place and time.

If there is a chance that your reader doesn’t know the content or purpose of your image, you need to include a photo caption.

Image caption, Image Caption Example, Passion Vine Caption, VaiaFig. 1 - Passion Vine at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia.

The above image caption clarifies the kind of flower and its location.

2. Enhance the Image With an Image Caption

Improve your image by adding further context, including emotional context. You can make an image more dramatic or sadder with a caption, but captions are especially good at adding humor to an image.

Image Caption, Example of Image Caption, Yellow Spotted Stink Bug on a Hand,VaiaFig. 2 - Yellow Spotted Stink Bug on a hand, AKA waking nightmare

When enhancing an image, you can make it more amusing and engaging to your audience.

Don’t feel the need to enhance every image you add! Some images stand better without enhancement, and groups of images might appear bulky if you caption each one. However, if the picture is not yours, you will need to cite it.

A citation is critical if you do not own the image. Photos and images you do not own should contain some kind of citation confirming where you got the photo or image. The citations are sometimes inserted directly in the caption, or else at the end of the article or piece of writing. Review the citation rules for your publication and follow the requirements outlined in the applicable photo licensing laws.

The citations for the images above are at the end of this explanation. How to cite your image in APA and MLA formats is included later on.

Image Captions and SEO

The final reason to caption your image is different from clarifying, enhancing, and citing. The final reason to capture your image is search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is all about accessibility for the search engine and the reader. The more accessible your blog is, the higher it will climb in the search engines.

Because captions stick out, people naturally read captions while scanning a blog. If you have no captions, you will lose that avenue of accessibility. Include captions where you think it’s appropriate! If you don’t, you miss an entry point or gateway to bring in readers.

Because your readers are likely to see your captions, make your captions strong and indicative of your article! Don’t make your captions long or daunting. Make them catchy and easy to interpret.

MLA Image Captions

Choose MLA-style captions if you want a strong academic style in your blog or if you need to caption images in an academic essay that uses MLA style. If you are captioning an online image in MLA format, and you don’t have a works-cited section, you need to include:

  • Figure number (relative to your other images in the article or post)

  • Title (your description)

  • The artist or photographer (last name, first name)

  • Source of image

  • Date created (when the work or image was created)

  • URL

  • Date accessed

You might notice how academic this appears. You probably won’t use MLA citations in your blog, but here is how that would look. (Note that you should replace INSERT YOUR URL HERE with the actual URL, with no caps or colorful format.)

Image caption, MLA full citation, VaiaMLA Citation: Fig. 3- Rabich, Dietmar. “Beautiful cherry tree stump in Hausdülmen, Germany.” Wikimedia, 3 April 2021, INSERT YOUR URL HERE. Accessed 17 June 2022.

If you have a works-cited section, here is how your image caption should appear for an online image:

Image caption, MLA citation, VaiaMLA Citation: Fig. 4. Charles J. Sharp, Ground agama in water, 2014.

This is how the image would be further annotated in the works-cited section.

Sharp, Charles J. "Ground agama in water." Wikimedia, 3 Nov. 2014, INSERT URL HERE.

APA Image Captions

Captioning your source in APA style is an alternate style to MLA, but it remains academic. Use APA if you want to capture a formal style. If you are captioning an online image in APA format, and you don’t have a works-cited section, you need to include:

  • Figure number (relative to your other images in the article or post, placed above the image)

  • Caption (placed above the image)

  • Description

  • Title of the website

  • The artist or photographer (last name, first initial of first name)

  • Year created (when the work or image was created)

  • URL

  • Copyright year

  • Copyright holder

  • Disclaimer

Here is how that would look. (Note again that you should replace INSERT YOUR URL HERE with the actual URL, with no caps or colorful format.)

Figure 3.

A tree stump with many rings.

Image caption, APA citation, VaiaNote: Beautiful cherry tree stump in Hausdülmen, Germany. Reprinted [or adapted] from Wikimedia, by D. Rabich, 2021, INSERT YOUR URL HERE. 2021 by D. Rabich. Reprinted with permission.

If you have a works-cited section, here is how your image caption should appear for an online image:

Figure 4.

A ground Agama swimming in water.

Image caption, APA citation, VaiaNote: A ground Agama in water. (Sharp, 2014)

This is how the image would be further annotated in the works cited section (or reference list).

Sharp, CJ. (2014). Ground agama in water. Wikimedia. INSERT YOUR URL HERE

Suit your image captions to your needs and requirements for the publication (or whoever asked you to produce the piece of writing with images). In a more academic or business setting, go with something more formal like APA or MLA. If you are blogging casually or prefer a minimalist style, try one of the simpler methods of image caption and citation.

Image Caption - Key Takeaways

  • An image caption is a written description that sits directly underneath an image.
  • This image can be a photo, drawing, diagram, piece of art, or anything else rendered in an image file format.
  • Clarify, enhance, and cite your images using the image caption.
  • Photos and images you do not own should contain some kind of citation confirming where you got the photo or image.
  • Your image caption can better your search engine optimization (SEO).

References

  1. Fig. 1 - Passion Vine at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Passion_Vine_NBG_LR.jpg). Image by Pumpkin Sky (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:PumpkinSky) licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
  2. Fig. 2 - Yellow Spotted Stink Bug (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/A_little_bug.jpg/1024px-A_little_bug.jpg) image by Zenyrgarden (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Zenyrgarden) licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
  3. Fig. 3 - Beautiful cherry tree stump in Hausdülmen, Germany. (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/D%C3%BClmen%2C_Hausd%C3%BClmen%2C_Baumwurzel_--_2021_--_7057.jpg/1024px-D%C3%BClmen%2C_Hausd%C3%BClmen%2C_Baumwurzel_--_2021_--_7057.jpg) Image by Dietmar Rabich (https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q34788025) Licensed by Creative Commons License “Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International” (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed)
  4. Fig. 4 - Ground agama in water (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/Ground_agama_%28Agama_aculeata%29_in_water.jpg/1024px-Ground_agama_%28Agama_aculeata%29_in_water.jpg) Image by Sharp Photography (https://www.sharpphotography.co.uk/) Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about Image Caption

photo caption or image caption is a written description that sits directly underneath an image.

Clarify and enhance the image with humor or meaning. Importantly, remember to cite your image to complete the image caption if that is required. 

Here is a simple caption: 

Act IV, Scene III of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Wikimedia.

Captions are important because they help explain your image and improve search engine optimization.

Yes, photos should have captions. It is particularly important to include captions if you don't own the photos because you need to cite the source.

Final Image Caption Quiz

Image Caption Quiz - Teste dein Wissen

Question

What is another name for a photo caption?

Show answer

Answer

An image caption

Show question

Question

Where is an image caption generally located?

Show answer

Answer

Directly underneath an image.

Show question

Question

What is considered an image on a blog or academic essay?

Show answer

Answer

A photo, drawing, diagram, piece of art, or anything else rendered in an image file format.

Show question

Question

Which of these is not a reason to caption your image?

Show answer

Answer

To argue your image

Show question

Question

How do you "clarify" an image using an image caption?

Show answer

Answer

Explain what that diagram means to your blog or argument if you include a diagram. If you include a photo of a place, specify that place and time.

Show question

Question

When should you clarify an image using a caption?

Show answer

Answer

Any image you include that might be unclear to the audience needs a caption.

Show question

Question

What kind of context can you add to enhance an image?

Show answer

Answer

Emotional context. You can make an image more dramatic or sadder with a caption, but captions are especially good at adding humor to an image.

Show question

Question

What is the goal of enhancing an image with a caption?

Show answer

Answer

When enhancing an image, you want to make it more amusing and engaging to your audience.

Show question

Question

You should caption every image in your blog.

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. 

Show question

Question

When can you not cite an image you don't own?

Show answer

Answer

Never.

Show question

Question

What is SEO?

Show answer

Answer

Search engine optimization.

Show question

Question

How does captioning an image improve SEO?

Show answer

Answer

Because captions stick out, people naturally read captions while scanning a blog. If you have no captions, readers will not have captions to scan, and you will lose that avenue of accessibility.

Show question

Question

Which of these do you not need in a complete MLA image caption citation (no works cited section)?

Show answer

Answer

Place where image was made

Show question

Question

If you have a works cited page, your MLA and APA image caption citations will be longer.

Show answer

Answer

False. They will be shorter.

Show question

Question

Select everything you need in a complete APA image caption citation (no works cited section) from the options below.

Show answer

Answer

Disclaimer, title of the website.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a reason to caption an image?

Show answer

Answer

To clarify your image.

Show question

Question

It isn't a good idea to add humor in a caption.

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

What is the main difference between AP and MLA style in terms of captions?

Show answer

Answer

The figure number and caption go above the image, not directly below. 

Show question

Question

Generally speaking, APA is more formal than MLA. 

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

You can decide which style of photo caption (MLA, APA, or something else) to use.

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

Where is an image caption generally located?

Which of these is not a reason to caption your image?

You should caption every image in your blog.True or false?

Next

Flashcards in Image Caption20

Start learning

What is another name for a photo caption?

An image caption

Where is an image caption generally located?

Directly underneath an image.

What is considered an image on a blog or academic essay?

A photo, drawing, diagram, piece of art, or anything else rendered in an image file format.

Which of these is not a reason to caption your image?

To argue your image

How do you "clarify" an image using an image caption?

Explain what that diagram means to your blog or argument if you include a diagram. If you include a photo of a place, specify that place and time.

When should you clarify an image using a caption?

Any image you include that might be unclear to the audience needs a caption.

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