Cutlines: Short & Sweet

After reading some guidelines on photography cutlines, I realize how important they are to photojournalism. Before, I felt like cutlines were a small detail that didn’t always need to be included in an article. I thought the article itself would give reference and explanation to the picture it was printed with, but now I know that cutlines with photographs are extremely important for concise and clear information that a person could be missing as they read a story.

Cutlines should explain what’s going in the image in about two sentences or less. These sentences should include the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where and sometimes why. Some of these cutlines will include explanations for special effects used to edit the photo, a small quote from someone photographed to add more personality or even a description of the colors in the photo if it’s printed in black and white. Each cutline must be written in AP style and should be short, sweet and to the point.

Good and accurate cutlines are necessary for an adequate clip and every photojournalist should learn how to produce them. They identify the subjects in a picture and even provide a small description of the action happening in the picture. Cutlines provide information that can clarify any question a reader may have about the photo or article, and they do it in the most efficient way possible.


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