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30 Days of CS5: Captions

InDesign’s new captioning features allow you to, you guessed it, generate captions for your images, illustrations and multimedia. Less obvious uses of the features allow catalog publishers to add SKU numbers or product names to the photos automatically. With a little bit of creativity, virtually anyone who uses photos regularly in their design work can find a use for the captioning tool. Here is the technical info you need to know in order to let your creativity run wild.

How it works
The captioning tool pulls metadata from within your images to generate the caption. As such, you’ll need to ensure your images have publish-able captions embedded in the metadata. Photographers use the Description/Caption field for all sorts of information. You’ll need to first check (via Bridge or other file browser) that the images contain captions you’d like to publish. You can fix captions after the fact, but your workflow will be smoother if you address this upfront.

Next, you’ll need to set up the caption structure by telling InDesign which metadata fields it should pull from to generate the caption. You’ll do this by right-clicking on your image and selecting Captions>Caption Setup from the contextual menu. Here, you specify the fields you’d like used in the caption, the position of the caption relative to the image and you can select a paragraph style to style the captions (recommended).

Once your captioning structure is complete, right click on the image a second time and select either the live captioning or static caption (Captions>Generate Live Caption or Captions>Generate Static Caption). Live captions are optimal if you are working in a small group environment with a group of images set aside for this project. This allows you to revise the captions and have the new version update automatically within InDesign. If you’re working in a larger publication where the images are stored on a server and captions may be accessed or adjusted by another party, you may want to select Static captions to ensure your captions aren’t inadvertently altered by a colleague.

Once the captioning option is selected, the caption appears adjacent to your image according to the specifications in the Captioning setup dialog.

Tailor the use of the captions to meet your publication’s needs by altering the metadata variables selected in the Caption Setup. You can pull from any number of metadata fields to display only the information relevant to your specific project.


One comment for “30 Days of CS5: Captions”

  1. Jay:

    Those looking for suggestions in writing useful captions (as well as keywords), should visit the “Caption and Keywording Guidelines” section on my site (http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/metalogging/).

    If they need help in entering metadata into various applications, there are a number of tutorials on the Photometadata website (http://www.photometadata.org/META-Tutorials) that are worth a look (including video tutorials).


    Posted by David Riecks | May 25, 2010, 9:17 am

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