Mechanics of Writing
Today in History
- 9. Glossary
3.2 Illustrations: Captions and Legends
In order to assist users in finding and properly crediting the source
materials illustrating NDLP framework materials, illustrations
should include descriptive information. Guidelines are offered below. The
Chicago Manual (11.1-49) gives useful definitions for captions and legends for illustrations. Building on these, NDLP recommends the
Writing the Caption and Legend
Whenever possible, use the language of the bibliographic record to make
captions and legend. If you are using an uncataloged item
for which no bibliographic record is available, follow the NDLP conventions
Captions (Chicago 11.24) are titles or headlines, usually placed below
illustrations. Captions are never grammatically complete sentences, but
if the caption and the legend are run together the caption ends with a
Legends (Chicago 11.24) are explanations consisting of one or more sentences,
usually placed after captions.
Caption: Fenway Park in 1936
Legend: This photograph shows construction of a 23-foot wire
fence on top of the 37-foot "Green Monster," built in 1912. The
fence was raised above the wall as batters started to shatter windows on
the street below.
NDLP Conventions for Captions and Legends
- Caption elements should appear in the order given in the table.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (P&P)
Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Frances Loeb Library
|P&P Reproduction Number
* Collection name is required only if there is no link to the bibliographic
** If P&P Reproduction Number is not available, use Call Number.
For other Divisions, consult Division specialists.
Note. Credit lines may be required for some illustrative material. For
more information, see Copyright and Other Restrictions.
- Caption and legend information should include a link to the bibliographic
record, when available.
- If a bibliographic record exists for an image but the image cannot
be linked to it, derive caption or legend information from the bibliographic
- Thumbnail images generally link to larger reference images.
- Descriptive information should be placed as close to the illustration
as possible. Beneath the illustration is generally preferred, but the final
decision will be made with the NDLP Design Team.
Examples of Thumbnail Illustrations with Descriptive Information
Example 1: Caption derived from bibliographic record but record unavailable
Mount Vernon in Virginia
George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.
Aquatint by Francis Jukes from Prints
and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress. London: Pub'd by F. Jukes, 1800.
Reproduction #: (b&w) LC-USZ62-1237
Example 1 is from the Colonial Period Time
Line of the George Washington Papers. Note that additional publication
information is listed after the repository/custodial Division and before
the reproduction number.
Example 2: Bibliographic records available for linking
Example 2 is from the Learning Page Feature Presentation Immigration
in American Memory. Note that the captions link to bibliographic records
and a legend appears between the illustrations.
Example 3: No bibliographic record available for linking
Example 3 is from the Index
to Materials Used in By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other
Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s. The legend as it appears
on the American Memory page has been abbreviated here.
Using Maps in Research
Looking at Sanborn Fire Insurance maps helps researchers visualize a subject.
In this case, a map of the Ebbets Field area emphasizes how small the Dodgers'
home stadium was --surrounded by streets on all sides.
Plate 52 in Brooklyn, New York, vol. 7 Published by Sanborn Map Company,
c1932. (Library of Congress, Geography
and Map Division). Reproduced with permission from EDR Sanborn, Inc.