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Editing cutlines and captions


Students will learn to edit and revise cutlines, also called captions, for style, length and accuracy.



  • Students will ensure cutlines are accurate.
  • Students will edit cutlines to include all necessary parts.
  • Students will consider the importance of word choice and style.


Common Core State Standards




Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2.d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.



50 minutes


Slideshow: How to improve a cutline

Handout: Cutline rubric (enough for each student)

Handout: Sample cutlines and photos

Handout: Cutline info

Resource: Teacher’s guide to corrections


Lesson step-by-step

1. Review/Slideshow — 15 minutes

 Students will view the “How to improve a cutline” slideshow, asking questions if they have any and taking notes.


2. Application — 20 minutes

Students will pair up and receive the handout with sample cutlines and photos plus the additional cutline info sheet (they can trust the spelling and facts on that sheet). They will also receive enough eutline rubrics to evaluate each of the 10 cutlines. They improve each cutline by fixing problems and adding possible missing information. More information is available on the cutline info sheet.


3. Review — 10 minutes

 As a class, groups will share the problems they think need to be corrected or information added to each cutline. (See Teacher’s guide to corrections.)


4. Variation

Have students in class or before the next class use the checklist and evaluate cutlines in recent publications or some that might be going in the next publication.



Outside of class, have students find photos with cutlines on or distribute copies of exchange papers and have students find examples of cutlines that follow the “rules” and examples of those that break them. Indicate what makes it great or not-so-great. Compile in a portfolio to share in class.



If students need samples, use those during the slideshow to illustrate points. If some students have no experience writing cutlines, they can be paired with a more experienced staffer.