May 6, 2009 / Copywriting

Variety is the key to successful caption writing

Written by Donna Skates

For more interesting captions, vary those caption introductions.

Actually, I do not know why present participles have been given such a bad rap as caption starters. Some yearbook evaluation booklets even grade books down if they use present participles to begin their captions. I think present participles are a really good way to begin a caption, but I allow only one per double-page spread.

To show students how to get more variety, I give them a sentence-pattern handout that lists the different ways they can begin sentences:

(S=subject; V=verb)

Adverb clause, SV
If he could erase the errors of his youth, would he do it?

Adverb, SV
Surprisingly, Donna is the antithesis of her twin, Debbie.

Infinitive V or Infinitive, SV
To augment his salary, Ira did freelance editing or To augment one’s salary is difficult.

Present Participle, SV
Facing every crisis with curiosity, Jamie looks forward to deadlines.

Past Participle, SV
Accused of ambivalence, the president was asked to clarify his position on the death penalty.

Dancing until dawn was Jane’s favorite part of prom.

Adjective, SV
Cold and aloof, Regina has few friends.

Prepositional Phrase, SV
In Hollywood, where you are only as good as your last picture, reputations tend to be ephemeral.

Appositive, SV
The most intelligent boy in the class, Jim Jackson just received a full ride to Harvard.

Appositive, appositive, appositive, SV
A telephone call, roses, a romantic note — all of these are nice things for a guy to think about before prom.

Donna Skates