Nearly all AP captions follow a simple formula:
lThe first sentence of the caption describes what the photo shows, in the present tense, and states where and when the photo was made.
lThe second sentence of the caption gives background on the news event or describes why the photo is significant.
lWhenever possible, try to keep captions to no more than two concise sentences, while including the relevant information. Try to anticipate what information a newspaper editor or reader will need.
THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE STANDARD AP CAPTION:
The Mississippi River flows through a hole in the Sny Island, Ill., levee, flooding farmland and homes 10 miles south of Quincy, Ill., Sunday, July 25, 1993. About 2,000 people were evacuated from the 44,000 acres that flooded. (AP Photo/Bill Waugh)
DO NOT use DESCRIPTIVE OVERLINES such as:
1. SAFE AT SECOND—For a baseball play at second base, or PRESIDENT ADDRESSES WOMEN—For a presidential speech to a women’s group. Regular captions have NO overlines.
INSTRUCTIVE OVERLINES will be used in the following cases:
1. For FILE PHOTOS the word FILE will be the OVERLINE.
Example: FILE—New York Knicks’ Patrick Ewing is bowled over by Charlotte Hornets’ Larry Johnson in this May 12, 1993, file photo during the NBA playoffs in New York. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm, File)
2. For ADVANCES the OVERLINE is the word ADVANCE and the RELEASE DATE. Do not use story slugs or writer’s name in the OVERLINE.
Example: ADVANCE FOR MAY 15-16—Sean Smith, a fish culturist at Vermont's new fish hatchery in Grand Isle, Vt., one of the Lake Champlain islands, moves young rainbow trout on May 4, 1993, to a new tank. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
3. For SPECIALS the OVERLINE should be the word SPECIAL and the name of the publication. Do not use the authorizing editor in the OVERLINE. Also, if the city is not part of the formal title of the publication’s name, add it.
Example: SPECIAL FOR THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER—Diana Holmes participates in the second day of the 66th annual National Spelling Bee in Washington Thursday, June 3, 1993. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
4. For EMBARGOED photos the OVERLINE should be the word EMBARGOED with the RELEASE TIME AND DATE. Also, add HFR (Hold for Release) in the SUPPLEMENTAL CATEGORY field of the NAA/IPTC header for embargoed photos for same day release.
Example: EMBARGOED UNTIL 9 P.M. EDT, June 1, 1993—Jan Smith, right, leaves the courtroom at the Travis County courthouse with friends Tuesday, June 1, 1993, in Austin, Texas, after her assailant William Johnson was found guilty of assault. (AP Photo/Austin American Statesman, Chuck Johnson)
The DATE, including the day of the week, day and year must appear in the body of all captions if known. If only the year and/or month is known, use that. Do not say “recently.” In file photos use the date the photo was originally shot, if known. If the date is not known get as close as you can even if only the year is known. If the date is unknown state “undated photo” in the body of the caption and in the INSTRUCTIONS field of the NAA/IPTC header.
The SIGNOFF for an AP staffer or stringer is, in parentheses, AP Photo followed by a slash and the name of the photographer. Don’t use str or stf. Example: (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer). If the name of the photographer is not known or needs to be withheld, the signoff is: (AP Photo).
MEMBER PHOTO SIGNOFF: (AP Photo/USA Today, Anne Ryan).
HANDOUT PHOTO SIGNOFF: (AP Photo/General Motors). If photographer is known: (AP Photo/General Motors, John Smith).
POOL PHOTO SIGNOFF: (AP Photo/Bill Waugh, Pool). For pool photos, do not name the newspaper or agency that shot for the pool in the caption signoff. However, put the name of the organization that shot the pool in the BYLINE TITLE field of the NAA/IPTC header.
SPECIALS PHOTO SIGNOFF for photo shot by AP: (AP Photo/Al Smith). If made by member’s own photographer: (Chicago Tribune Photo/Bill James).
FILE PHOTO SIGNOFF: (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File). If the name of the photographer who shot the file photo is not known the signoff should be: (AP Photo/File)
AP GRAPHIC SIGNOFF: (AP Graphic/Karl Tate).
HANDOUT GRAPHIC SIGNOFF: (AP Graphic/AccuWeather).
TV FRAMEGRAB PHOTO SIGNOFF: (AP Photo/CNN)
MANDATORY CREDITS, OUTS, CORRECTION INFORMATION and EDITOR’S NOTES do not appear in the caption box. They appear in the INSTRUCTIONS field in the NAA/IPTC header.
CAPTIONS FOR TRANSMIT POINTS WITH LEAF II TRANSMITTERS AND EXTERNAL LEAF COMPANDERS: Retain the old slug style, but adopt the new style for the body of the caption. Note the new style signoff for the caption writer, day of the week/time and byline title.
Example: [S OH CSA103 BBN REDS CARDINALS] Cincinnati Reds baserunner Willie Greene is out at home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Hector Villanueva gets set to make the tag during the fourth inning in Cincinnati Thursday, June 3, 1993. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)(ab52127stf)
CAPTIONS FOR TRANSMIT POINTS LEAF II TRANSMITTERS WITHOUT COMPANDERS AND ANALOG DRUM TRANSMITTERS: Use the new style for the body of the caption. Retain the picture number and dateline. Note the new style signoff for the caption writer, day of the week/time and byline title. Retain the story slug.
Example: (CSA103) Cincinnati Reds baserunner Willie Greene is out at home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Hector Villanueva gets set to make the tag during the fourth inning in Cincinnati Thursday, June 3, 1993. (AP Photo/Al Behrman) (ab52127stf)1993 SLUG: BBNReds Cardinals
CAPTION CORRECTIONS, ADDITIONS, ELIMINATIONS
An AP captions CORRECTION is moved when a simple and non-libelous error occurs in a caption. Examples would be a misspelled name, wrong hometown, sports score or slug. The procedure AP uses to file a caption correction form on PhotoStream is to point out the information that is being corrected in the INSTRUCTIONS field of the NAA/PTC header and write a corrected caption in publishable form. The word CORRECTION and the original photo’s TRANS REFERENCE number are added to the OBJECT NAME field in the NAA/PTC header. The form is followed by the photo again with a corrected publishable caption noting so in the INSTRUCTIONS field of the NAA/PTC header. The same procedure is followed for an AP caption ADDITION.
An AP caption ADDITION is moved when the original caption is incomplete but otherwise accurate. An AP caption ADDITION may add the name of someone in the photo or other important background information.
An AP caption ELIMINATION is moved for an acceptable photo that has a caption field that misrepresents the photo or is in bad taste. When this occurs, an AP caption ELIMINATION form is moved alerting members. Then the photo is rerun with the corrected caption using procedures for an AP caption CORRECTION transmission.
PHOTO KILLS AND ELIMINATIONS
An AP photo KILL is moved on PhotoStream and DataStream for a photo that is objectionable and calls into question the threat of legal action, libel or copyright. Photo KILLS move in consultation with the New York Photos desk supervisor and senior photo management.
An AP photo ELIMINATION is moved on PhotoStream and DataStream for a photo that carries no threat of legal action but is objectionable for other reasons, such as error, poor taste or inaccuracy. When these occur, either an AP photo KILL or ELIMINATION is moved, alerting members.
NAA/IPTC HEADER FIELDS
Byline:The Byline field lists the name of the person who made the photo.
Byline Title: The Byline Title field lists the title of the person who made the photo.
Caption: The Caption field is the text that accompanies the photo, containing the who, what, when, where and why information.
Caption Writer: The Caption Writer field lists the initials of all the people who wrote or edited the caption, header fields or image file. This includes toning and pixel editing.
Category: The Category field lists codes that aid in a more detailed search. (See category definitions in this section.)
City: The City field lists where the photo was originally made. For file photos, do not use the transmission point's city.
Country: The Country field lists the three-letter country code where the photo was originally made. For file photos, do not put the transmission point’s country.
Creation Date Time: The Create Date Time field is the date the photo was originally made. For file photos, use the date the photo was originally made, if known. If the complete date is not known, Leafdesk 8.3 software will allow the field to be left blank. The field will not accept a partial date. The time is not needed.
Credit: The Credit field is the name of the service transmitting the photo.
Headline: The Headline field lists keywords to aid in a more detailed search for a photo.
Instructions: The Instructions field lists special notations that apply uniquely to a photo, such as file photo, correction, advance or outs.
Object Name: The Object Name field lists the story slug associated with a photo. For photos without a story, Associated Press photographers or photo editors will make up a logical slug to aid in a search and note it as a “stand alone photo” in the INSTRUCTIONS field of the NAA/PTC header. If a related story moves on Data-Stream, the photo will be retransmitted with the appropriate OBJECT NAME to match the story.
Routing: The Routing field is used by The Associated Press to route photos on to PhotoStream.
Source: The Source field lists who is the original provider of a photo, such as: AP, an AP member, pool photo provider or handout photo provider.
State: The State field lists the state where the photo was originally made. Use U.S. postal code abbreviations. For file photos, do not use the transmission point's state.
Supp Categories: The Supplemental Categories field lists codes that aid in a more detailed search for a photo. (See supplemental categories definitions in this section.)
Trans Reference: The Trans Reference field lists a call letter/number combination associated with a photo. It includes an originating transmit point’s call letters and picture number from that point's sequence of offerings for a given day. Example: NY105.
ENT Entertainment, celebrities (don’t use the word people)
FEA Feature pictures of a non-news nature
FILE File photo
HFR Hold for Release (embargoed photos for same day release)
MAP Map or graphic
NAT National Geographic package
PM PM cycle
SPF Special Features package
CVNNational political conventions
ELN Election campaigns
XGR State legislatures
BBAProfessional baseball (American League)
BBN Professional baseball (National League)
BBO Professional baseball (minor league or related to neither league)
BBC College baseball
BKN NBA basketball
BKC Men’s college basketball
BKW Women's college basketball
BKO Other basketball including high school and semipro
CAR Racing (car, speedboat or motorcycle)
FBN NFL Football
FBC College football
FBO Other football including high school and semipro
HKN NHL hockey
HKC College hockey
HKO Other hockey including high school and minor league
RAC Racing (animals)
RUN Track and Field