Creating Editorial Captions

For a newsworthy editorial image to have any long term value, the image must have a description that is formatted in a specific way and include basic identifiers such as: Who, What, Where & When. If you are submitting editorial images, you will need to designate the content for ‘Editorial Use’ after uploading and provide each image with a caption in the standard editorial format.

Below are the required guidelines of how an editorial caption needs to be structured.  This information will be entered in the Description field before you submit each image for review - please pay special attention to formatting, phrasing, capital letters, and punctuation. The structure of an editorial caption is:

CITY, STATE/COUNTRY – MONTH DAY: Factual description of the image content on [date] in [location]. A qualifying newsworthy second sentence (if necessary).



The dateline includes the location and date. It always comes before the caption/description and is in written in capital letters.  For images taken in any 'major' city in the world such as Los Angeles, New York, or London, you do not need the state/country identifier in the dateline, but you should include this in the caption.





The dateline is followed by the caption/description of the event. This is the Who, What, Where & When that the image illustrates. Just explain what is going on in the image. Simply write the facts. If the photo depicts people, start by identifying the subject(s) with the person’s/people’s name(s), and describe what they are doing. Be sure to describe the action in the active present tense. When writing, be Concise, Factual, and remember:  Accuracy is important. Please keep it under 200 characters (including spaces).

EXAMPLE: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.



Combine the Dateline and Caption

This is what the completed, proper editorial caption would look like:

JACKSON, NJ - JUNE 16: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Jackson, NJ.
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 16: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.


Editorial images of children

Editorial images of children, like all editorial images, need to be newsworthy (specifically of domestic or international importance). Please follow the caption examples cited above but due to the sensitive nature of photographing children, provide the name, age, and general area of residence for all children in the image.  One caption/description example of an image of a child that may be newsworthy:

CHARLOTTE - JUNE 16: John Doe, 8, from Charlotte, N.C., cools off in a spray of mist at the zoo on June 16, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Temperatures recently went into the triple digits.



If the exact date of the event is not known, "circa" may be used to indicate that the date is around the "circa" year given within the dateline and caption areas. An example would be:

LOS ANGELES - CIRCA JUNE 2008: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure circa June 2008 in Los Angeles, California.


Postage Stamps (, close up photographs of)

Upon submission, contributors need to classify close-up images of postage stamps as 'Editorial Use' only and provide a proper editorial caption for each image. Prerequisites for your submission include:

1. The stamp(s) has been canceled by authorities and has at least some of the ink from the cancellation stamp mark visible in the photo.
2. You are submitting high quality images from a technical standpoint (tack sharp focus when viewed at 100%).
3. The image has a proper editorial caption format.

The 'Dateline format' has the country of origin written in all capital letters followed by the month and year, and then a colon. If you do not know the exact date the stamp was issued, you may use the term 'Circa' along with the year the stamp was issued. Example of the format for the appropriate captioning of a postage stamp:

GERMANY - CIRCA 1986: A stamp issued in Germany shows a portrait of Dorothea Erxleben, circa 1986. The stamp had a print run of only one month.
* You will need to include a relevant fact or description of the artwork that is featured on the stamp in the first part of the caption sentence. The country of origin should be listed again and the full date is the second part of the caption sentence.
* If you have an additional fact about the stamp you may add it as a second sentence at the end.


Read the following article on the Bigstock blog to learn more:

What’s An Editorial Photo?

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