Directionals: Directionals

March 2, 2006: Issue 129

Having trouble figuring out which directional to use in a caption? Check out our new illustrated examples.

And while we’re discussing directionals, here are a few reminders.

Always use commas to set off directionals embedded in text.
incorrect: The ebony side table above was a flea-market bargain.
correct: The ebony side table, above, was a flea-market bargain.

Use commas inside directionals only when they are three words or longer.
correct: ABOVE LEFT: The ebony side table was a flea-market bargain.
correct: OPPOSITE, TOP LEFT: The ebony side table was a flea-market bargain.
correct: The ebony side table, above left, was a flea-market bargain.
correct: The ebony side table, opposite, top left, was a flea-market bargain.

When a caption is printed over a photo, use “this photo” (not “this page”).

Omit the directional when a caption refers to a single photo and the relationship is clear from position.

JUST FOR FUN: Next time you’re grumbling about grammar rules that seem arbitrary and unnecessary, take a look at where we’d be without them.

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