Captioning Style Guide


This style guide provides a standard method of writing captions for Department of Defense imagery and should be used by photographers, videographers, and all who produce or manage DoD imagery to write and edit captions that are accurate, clear, concise, and meet DoD style standards. The guide is written for all producers, editors and users of visual information (VI) and demonstrates how to address military terms descriptive of things, places and entities recorded by DoD camera operators, created by DoD graphic artists, or written about by DoD journalists. It is a supplement to the Associated Press Stylebook; refer to AP for guidance on items that do not appear within this guide.

Grammar Review

Good captions are difficult to write without a solid foundation in the principles that govern sentence construction. The following review of basic grammar rules will help writers and editors produce clear, effective captions.


All of the preceding style guidance also applies to information entered into the metadata of imagery. It is important that this information is both complete and accurate to ensure that an image is searchable and of the utmost value to the end user.

Matters of Style

The following chapter provides the correct style for the terms, equipment, etc., that are commonly misspelled or otherwise misused within DoD captions. The list is by no means comprehensive; if a term does not appear in this section, refer to AP Style or New Webster's Dictionary for the appropriate style and spelling, or to the service-specific fact sheets for the correct spelling of aircraft, vehicles and equipment (see References).

Captioning Basics

The ABC's of captioning. To write an effective caption, keep the following tenets in mind: accuracy, brevity and clarity.

Captioning for Video

When writing captions for motion imagery, all the rules of style and content apply. The descriptive information provided will necessarily be broader since the caption must describe more than a single image. Provide captions for the sequence and each shot.