What good is a yearbook if names, faces, and events are not labeled and described? What good is a yearbook if stories are not told?

Writing captions is not easy! Many students have no problem identifying the people in the photo but have a hard time writing more than "posing for a picture."

This page will explain the purpose of captions, as well as organization, photo critiquing, and writing activities.

Note-taking Writing Prompts

Students love taking photos! Writing captions, not so much. Students may not have all the information or they simply need to practice their writing skills. Here are some prompts to gather details necessary to write quality captions:

  • Name the people in the photo.
    • Include first and last names, as well as the student's grade level or teacher's subject area.
  • Describe what the people are doing.
    • Do not write obvious statements like "posing for a picture" or "smiling at the camera."
  • Where is the event?
    • Did the event occur at our school?
    • If it is at a different school, which one?
  • When did this event happen?
    • Name the date or at least the month.
  • What important fact can you add?
    • If this is a competition, who won? Was it a music, writing or sports competition?
    • What was the score or prize?
    • What position did the student-athlete play?
    • Who did the actor portray in the theater production?
    • How long has the teacher taught at your school?
  • Is there a story to be told about either the individual(s) or event?
    • Tell it!

The students will not necessarily use all of the notes; however, the details will serve as inspiration for the 1-3 sentence captions. Some students may be inspired to write more than a caption and write short or long copy.

Weekly Photo and Writing Activity

To make caption writing easier, I highly recommend the following weekly activity:

  • Friday - Student editors confirm that all photos have been uploaded to Google Drive.
  • Monday - Students complete Weekly photo critique. See the directions below for further details.
  • TWTh- Ideally, a 10 minute caption writing activity.See the directions below for further details.
  • Friday - The process begins again. Student editors confirm that all photos have been uploaded.

Weekly Photo Critique - Monday

Every Monday, the whole class completes this photo critique. Eventually, several student editors will take over the discussion in small groups.

  • Add Photos to Google Drive folders and delete poor quality photos
  • Discuss best photos of the week as a class and, later, small groups.
  • Edit photos in Canva as necessary. This includes adding filters, basic adjustments, and cropping.
  • Label faces by adding names to the file name. This will make future caption writing easier.
  • If you add a subfolder, add the shareable link to Google Sheets Table of Contents as they are created.

Weekly Caption Writing Collaborative Document

You can do Caption writing in Google Docs or Google Sheets. Just like the weekly photo activity, caption writing will begin as a whole class led by the teacher and eventually moved to small groups led by several student editors.

Click here to view an example.

Click here to USE TEMPLATE.


Adding new content to the top is much easier than scrolling down as the document will get after a few weeks.


Whole class discussions about quality photos and captions will lead to better quality work. The same students are not stuck writing the captions because everyone practices the skill.

  • Column 1 - Identify the yearbook section: clubs, music, sports, etc.
  • Column 2 - Insert the photo and its link. The photo will be sized to the column width. Use the link to label faces in the photo. Insert the direct link to the photo.
  • Column 3 - This is the column where students collaboratively write their notes. Individual students will use these group notes to tell the story, not just report, about the photo. Students can write their answer in a Google Classroom Question.
  • Column 4 - After each student writes a 1-3 sentence caption in the Google Classroom, the best caption is copied/pasted into this column.

How Long Does the Caption Activity Take?

The activity should take only 10 minutes a day. In the beginning, however, the activity may take an entire class period. That is what happened our first week of caption writing. Not every student in the elective yearbook class chose to be there and this is a learning process.

As the advisor, I took the time to write feedback for each caption, celebrated the best captions, and held every student accountable. This dedication resulted in better captions, obvious student editor front-runners, and, eventually, less time to complete. In the following weeks, the responsibility was given to students who voted for the best caption using a Google Form.

Unfortunately, I did not complete the weekly caption writing activity in 2022-2023. I will come to regret that decision, but I will start the activity again next Fall.

Whole Class to Small Group Discussions

In the beginning, this activity is teacher-led and whole class. The top student photographers and writers will become evident. Keep an eye out for potential student editors during this time.

When you are confident that the students know how to choose quality photos and write quality captions, choose student editors to lead different sections of the yearbook. These student editors become co-teachers of the Google Classroom and in charge of one group. The student editors take over the discussion in small groups.

Upload New Photos and Select Best Captions - Friday

This job belongs to the student editors. Please be aware that not everyone makes a good student editor. A student editor takes initiative and learns quickly.

Every Friday, student editors will take will upload photos and select the best captions from the Google Classroom Question. The best caption and the student author's name will be added to the collaborative Google Doc and to the image itself.

Google Apps for Photos and Captioning

Below are some suggestions for using Google Classroom, Google Photos, and Google Drive for the captioning activity.

 Google Classroom Question

  1. In Classroom, click on CLASSWORK -> CREATE -> Question.
  2. Type a Question Title and Description.
  3. Add the Weekly Caption Collaborative Doc. Optional: Include the link to the photo.
  4. Select Ask.
  5. Each yearbook staff member types their caption in the Answer.
  6. Student clicks Turn in.

To learn more about how to use Google Classroom with your yearbook class, please click here.

Reuse Google Classroom Question

If you use this activity 1 to 3 times a week, it makes sense to Reuse post and simply change the title and link to the photo.

  1. Select Create -> Reuse.
  2. Select the previous assignment.
  3. Change the Title.
  4. Update the photo link.
  5. Select Ask.

Change Doc Share Settings

A Google Classroom Question does not have the option for Anyone can edit an attached document. As such, you will need to manually change the Share settings.

  1. In the document, select Share.
  2. Click on Advanced.
  3. Find your Google Classroom and change View to Edit.
  4. Select Done.

Captioning in Google Drive

If Google Photos is not an option for the yearbook class, captions can be added directly to the Google Drive image.

  1. Double click on the image in Google Drive.
  2. Click on the 3 dots for more information.
  3. Select Details.
  4. Type the caption in the Description box.
  5. Click on the x.

The words used in the Description box can now be searched. We will learn more about Image Editing in Slides after we cover Google Photos.

Captioning in Google Photos

In addition to storing the best captions in the collaborative Weekly Captions doc, you can also add the captions to the Google Photos info section.

  1. Select the i icon on the photo.
  2. Label faces as necessary. This will make captioning easier for future photos.
  3. Copy and paste the best caption in the Description section of the photo.
  4. Select x.

The words written in the Description are searchable. We will learn more about Google Photos in the next section of this website.

Additional Resources

YouTube Playlist

  • A Simple Approach to Great Captions by Walsworth Yearbooks
  • Caption Text: Photo Caption by Ezralia Rosaa
  • The Trick to Engaging Instagram Captions by Jasmine Star


Canva Photo Editing

Even professionals edit their photos, whether it is cropping or adjusting the lighting. Learn how to edit photos Canva, which is free to classroom teachers and their students.

Updated January 22, 2023.