Captions: Directionals

View examples of correctly used directionals. (PDF)

In most cases, every photograph must have a reference in text (either through a caption, directional in body copy, or both). Directionals may be placed at the beginning of a caption or internally, but treatment should be consistent throughout the same issue.

Spreads with two or more photos should include a directional for each photo. Order the captions for the photos from left to right. (updated 9.25.13)

Internal directionals should be placed as close as possible to the noun they are emphasizing. Always use commas to set off internal directionals. Set internal directionals in a typeface opposite that of accompanying text. (For instance, use italic type within roman copy.) See Punctuation for how to treat a punctuation mark following a directional.
The blooming roses create refreshing fragrances, left, near the patio.
The blooming roses, left, create refreshing fragrances near the patio.
The porch, left, features ample seating.
Trace the patterns on pages 57 and 59.
See the Buying Guide on page 112.

BH&G: If the number of commas in a sentence means setting off directionals in commas makes the sentence choppy or difficult to read, parentheses are OK. If the text is labeled with room id (e.g., dining room, kitchen), we can skip directionals. We also sometimes skip using “opposite” if there is an arrow pointing to the opposite page or if the photos are grouped as one mass. Avoid “clockwise” construction; Oma prefers left to right, top to bottom. (updated 3/30/21)

When deciding whether to use “right,” “left,” etc., ask yourself: Where is the photo in relation to the caption?

Do not use opposite typeface for spatial references in copy.
There is ample storage below the sink.
Do not use opposite typeface for spatial references within a photograph.
The living room table left of the window, top right, accommodates eight.
Opposite, right, left, or WHAT?
If a photo jumps the gutter, do not use opposite.
If the entire photo is on the opposite page, use opposite.

Multiword directionals
Use two-word directionals this way: top right and bottom left. One element of three-word directionals should be set off with a comma: opposite, top right.

Three or more photos
Use middle instead of center.

Up and down
Use above and below first, then top and bottom to indicate photos farther from the caption. Don’t use top unless there’s an above; don’t use bottom unless there’s a below.

Overprinted captions
Use this photo when a caption prints over a photo—not other directionals such as this page or this image.

No directional is necessary, but still may be used, when:
• A caption prints over the only photo on a spread.
• A caption is printed next to the only photo on a spread.

No directional is necessary when a caption uses an arrow or a similar character that indicates the appropriate photo.



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