CAPTIONS (FOR PICTURES*) (REVISED 4/03)
LENGTH OF CAPTION: Picture captions can be one or two lines long, ideally one. Never three, except rarely in picture galleries.
WORDING OF CAPTION: The wording should follow the geography of a picture, from left to right (eg if Blair is on the left, and Mandelson on the right, the caption should NOT say " Mandelson and Blair"). But captions should not be literal descriptions of the picture's contents - so "Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson", though an improvement, is still poor. Better to say, eg Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson: Longtime friends
NAMES IN CAPTIONS: In News, you should ideally use both first and second names of anyone pictured - though there will often not be enough room for this, especially if two or more people have to be identified. Sport can follow the sporting convention of surnames only (eg Giggs is confident of another title ) - though take care that first names are given where necessary (eg Neville wants the England captaincy leaves us wondering, "Gary or Phil?").
PUNCTUATION OF CAPTIONS: If you are including a direct quote, use a colon and double quotation marks (eg Homer Simpson: "D'oh!"). Any colon in a caption - whether or not introducing a quote - must be followed by a capital letter (eg Lisa Simpson: Genius at work ).
If you need to focus in a caption on one individual among several, use brackets and NOT commas eg a picture of a group of children might be captioned Bart Simpson (centre) was never his teacher's pet rather than "Bart Simpson, centre, was never...". If space is very short, you can abbreviate such labels to their initial letter only. But since (left) looks strange if rendered as (l) - because it looks like a number one - then we should capitalise all three, for consistency's sake ie (C) (L) (R).
There is NO full stop at the end of a caption, other than in picture galleries.
NB: a caption is often not necessary with a map or a generic graphic.