How to add captions to photos in Lightroom

Creating captions for photos is a basic task, and easy to do in Lightroom. When you’re sorting through the options and panels in the Slideshow, Print, and Web modules, however, it can be confusing to figure out how to apply the captions to your output.

The key is understanding that captions generated from Lightroom are based on metadata that you apply to the photo. You specify metadata in the Library module, using the Metadata panel. You can use any type of metadata as a caption—a filename; copyright info; a label or rating; or a phrase, sentence, or a paragraph you’ve entered in the Caption metadata field.

(The Caption field is available in the Default, EXIF+IPTC, Large Caption, Minimal, and QuickDescribe Metadata presets.)

The most efficient workflow is to specify your caption metadata before you switch to one of the output modules—it will make the process much more streamlined. See Lightroom Community Help topics View photo metadata and Add and edit IPTC metadata for instructions on how to enter metadata for your photos.

Then, to apply captions to printed photos, slide shows, or web galleries, do the following:

• In the Slideshow module, the closest thing to a caption is a text overlay. Text overlays appear mostly on the photo, not below it, depending on the template. What’s nice is that you can have multiple overlays. In the Overlays panel, look under the image preview and click the Add Text To Slide button (the ABC button). A pop-up menu appears to the right of the button, allowing you to choose a type of metadata: Filename, Caption, Date, and so on. The filename, caption, or date metadata for the photo appears as an overlay, which you can resize or style as desired. Choose Edit to open the Text Template Editor, where you can specify a combination of metadata elements for your caption.

Here’s the rub: If you choose Custom Text, whatever you type in the box will be applied uniformly to all of the slides. This is different from having a unique caption for each one. (And if you enter Custom Text, note it does not get added to your photo’s metadata back in the Library module.) See Add text and metadata to slides in Lightroom Community Help.

• In the Print module, you can add captions to photos for Single Image/Contact Sheet layouts only. These are layouts that use one or more photos, but they must all be the same size on the page. Select the layout from the Template Browser panel on the left side of the Print module, and open the Page panel on the right side of the module. Select the Photo Info option, and choose the metadata you want to use as a caption from the pop-up menu. See Print filename, caption, and other information (Single Image/Contact Sheet) in Lightroom Community Help.

• In the Web module, use the Image Info panel to add captions. The captions appear on the large image in the gallery, not the thumbnails on the index page. Select a layout from the Template Browser panel on the left side of the Web module, and open the Image Info panel on the right side of the module. Select Caption, and then choose the metadata you want to use as the caption from the pop-up menu. Choose Edit to open the Text Template Editor, where you can specify a combination of metadata elements for your caption.

As with the Slideshow module, there’s a caveat: If you choose Custom Text, whatever you type in the box will be applied uniformly to all of the large images in the gallery. This is different from having a unique caption for each one. See Add text to web galleries in Lightroom Community help.

Finally, a word about exporting: When you export photos, all the metadata, including captions, is embedded—unless you choose Minimize Embedded Metadata in the Export dialog box or Lightroom Publishing Manager dialog box. (See Specify metadata handling for exported photos.) But if you want to see the captions on the exported photo, here’s a trick: Export JPEGs of captioned slides. In the Slideshow module, create your slide show with captions as described above, and then press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) to change the Export PDF button to Export JPEG. Click the Export JPEG button to export the photos as JPEGs with captions (and other slide layout and overlay options) intact.

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18 Responses to How to add captions to photos in Lightroom

  1. Winston Mitchell says:

    There is a problem with keywords.
    The slide show overlays include keywords that do not have the “Include on export” option checked.

    • Anita Dennis says:

      Winston,
      The Include On Export option refers to when you use the File > Export command in the Library or Develop module. It doesn’t apply to creating slide shows (although technically, that command is also “export”). You can request a change in feature functionality by going to http://www.adobe.com/go/wish. Requests submitted on that form are seen by product engineers.

      Anita

  2. Sudden Imphead says:

    So, I can’t figure out how to add captions to new pics without constantly having to use the mouse in between typing the text.

    What’s the keyboard shortcut to get to the Caption field? (When viewing a picture in Library mode)

    What’s the keyboard shortcut to confirm the caption and have input focus revert to usual Library mode? (When the caption field is active)

    Thanks!

    • Anita Dennis says:

      Alas, there are no such keyboard shortcuts. In any module, press Command+/ (Mac) or Ctrl+/ (WIndows) for that module’s keyboard shortcuts. Or see all of them in the Keyboard shortcuts help topic.

  3. AlanW says:

    Is there any way to add a caption in LR and then export as a jpg and then add to a web page in dreamweaver?

  4. Robert says:

    If I export to jpeg I don’t get my caption unless I have previously “Saved metadata to file…” (Ctrl S). As I don’t want to have to create thousands of xmp files just for this, is there another way please?

  5. AlexG says:

    Is there a way to add a caption automatically based on exif data (ie: automatically add as caption “ISO 100, f 22, 18mm”?

  6. Adrienne says:

    how can I caption and export for ftp sites?

  7. William Pannill says:

    I am trying to create a slide show with captions. After an hour or two or searching the Kelby book and Adobe’s bewildering help files, I finally got to metadata and tried writing a caption in the edit box. I got the captions all right, and they were below the slides. But all had quotation marks around them — which really makes them look silly. How do I kill the quotation marks?

    It strikes me that a company as sophisticated as Adobe ought to be able to create a simple process for writing captions for slides. I had some great software called SendPhotos that did almost everything Lightroom does. Captions were no problem for them. Check it out.

  8. Greg Dorland says:

    What is the SIMPLEST way to add a caption to each photo that I want to export to my desktop and then email??

  9. Jim says:

    Can one add notes in the comments field. When I select comments a messsage “Selected service soes not support comments” appears. Is is possible to add comments that may pertain to printing or other notes?

  10. Richard Armstrong says:

    Is it possible to change fonts in a caption when exporting to the print module?

  11. Pete says:

    Is it possible to pre-load captions in Lightroom? For example if you know you are goimg to shoot an event and have the details – this would save you time because you could do a general caption beforehand and save it ready for when the pics are done.

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  13. GfK says:

    Hello,
    I ‘d like to export full JPGs with the filename embedded.
    Is it possible ?

  14. John says:

    I would like to be able to identify shots in the library module (multi-pane view) by filename, rather than the sequential number assigned by lightroom, but I cant figure out how to do it. Can you help?

    Thanks

    John

  15. Nile says:

    This doesn’t work. I have bird pictures and would like to put their names on individual slides. How can that be done?