Learn to write great yearbook captions with this video, lesson plan


Updated by Walsworth Yearbooks 

What is a Yearbook Caption?

Let’s start with the basics. In simple terms, yearbook caption writing is the text that corresponds with any image in your yearbook. This identifies the who, what, when, where, why and how of your photograph, commonly referred to as the 5 Ws and the H. Captions are vital for indexing and telling the story of what you’re photographing. In short: every photo should have a caption.

Captions are easier to write once you know the formula and have a clear plan for writing. The ABCD formula is a simple acronym to teach your staff.

What is the ABCD Formula?

Yearbook caption writing doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It’s as easy as, well, ABCD! If you’re not familiar with the ABCD formula, it stands for:

  • Attention Getter
  • Basic Information
  • Complementary Information
  • Direct Quote.

Following the ABCD method ensures your captions can stand up to critique, and it’s something Walsworth can help you teach your students.

Watch and Learn

Renee Burke, former yearbook adviser at Boone High School in Orlando, Florida, wrote the script and is the presenter in the video provided.

“I personally get so annoyed when I am reading a yearbook, or even a magazine, and there isn’t a caption for a picture. I want to know details,” Burke said.


The objectives for the lesson plan include students learning the parts of a good caption and how to write them to identify people, and be accurate and informative.

Burke also said caption writing is easier to approach because it’s a group of smaller pieces instead of a multi-paragraph article.

“Body copy can be intimidating. Oftentimes people don’t know where to start, or they feel like they’ve said the same thing year after year. Also, small schools feel that since they have a small book it’s hard to give up space for body copy,” Burke said.

“I see such value in captions and feel staffs can overlook their importance,” Burke said.

Bring Captions to the Classroom

All the activities, assignments, handouts and a Lesson Overview that you can use with the video are available in the PDF provided. It includes valuable caption-writing do’s and don’ts along with many more teaching resources.

Looking for more caption resources? Visit Yearbook Help to access more caption-related content or download our eBook “Writing Captions That Will Captivate.” You can also take advantage of our Yearbook Suite curriculum unit, “Completing Your Copy with Captions and Headlines.” It’s also written by Burke.

While you are captioning all of your photos from the year, don’t forget to enter your favorite photos into the Walsworth Photo Contest, open now through March 31. The winner of each category will receive a $250 Visa® gift card.

What resources do you use to teach caption writing? Let us know in the comments below.



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