Title vs Caption

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Apr 7, 2009
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Can anyone explain to me exactly the difference between "Title" and "Caption" as metadata fields in the Library module? Both hold descriptive information but act differently when uploaded to other applications such as SmugMug. SmugMug sorts photos alphabetically by Caption but not by Title which makes to sense at all to my understanding of the purpose of title and caption.
I don't use SmugMug but if they sort by caption instead of title, it doesn't make sense to me either.
IPTC defines title and caption as follows:
  • Title - A shorthand reference for the item. A human readable name which can be text or numeric, may be the file name, but doesn't have to be. It is not the same as headline.
  • Caption - Is Description (as of 1.1), which is basically the description, including caption, of the items content.
I have seen this hotly debated before, but this is my understanding and how I use Title and Caption.

I use Title where I have a single line description, that I normally like to see immediately under an image (ie almost glued to the image).

I use Caption, where I wish to use one or more paragraphs.

Regularly, I will use both. Flickr and SquareSpace seem to work for me using this methodology when I have the metadata fields populated in Lr.

Here is an example of an image uploaded to Flickr.

The situation is also confused by the fact that Lightroom uses the Fields "Title" and "Caption", while Photoshop uses the fields "Title" and "Description".
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Yeah, resolution of that mess sometimes depends on how your viewer is seeing the images. Online galleries for instance deal with it in different ways. I prefer to think of title as like the book or painting title, a sort of name of the image. Sometimes I use stuff there to identify sequence, sometimes as simple as "Tour de France Stage 2, 4 of 6" or something. The description is just that (caption is sorta being deprecated for the more descriptive description, heh). That makes it easier for say the reader or presenter, just the titles look more like organizational tools, while the description is more content oriented. Like the blurb for a book. Gnits example above is like that.

Smugmug must be on crack. People have complained about this before; I don't know that you even can view title. I think most rename files in order to use that for sequence rather than relying on caption.

BTW, is there a way to add into a caption a title or sequence automatically? I've used John Beardsworth's Search Replace Transfer plugin to transfer a sequential filename into a title, but it would be nice to have something that could just put in a custom sequence, like the one above. Is there anything like that? I know PM can do it but it would be nice to have in Lr.
A few years ago, Picasa and other free/cheap photo solutions I tried only supported caption. That might be part of the legacy...

All pictures of say the same event should have the same TITLE while each picture would have an individual CAPTION explaining what. where, who, when in the picture.
Ah, I see. So the title is like the title of a book and the photos are chapters. Great but I don't like it. I prefer it like an art gallery where each painting has a title and there may be a caption explaining a bit about the painting. Why does SmugMug force us into one mould? My guess is it was the designer's preference and the designer has little understanding of cataloguing.
The title/caption that I outlined is a well established convention and has nothing to do with SmugMug! It is universally used by press and editorial photographers everywhere. Individual preferences just don't come into it. Your guess is wrong I'm afraid.
The title/caption that I outlined is a well established convention and has nothing to do with SmugMug! It is universally used by press and editorial photographers everywhere. Individual preferences just don't come into it. Your guess is wrong I'm afraid.
With due respect, SmugMug is not about "press and editorial" photography despite the background of the originators. I do mainly nature photography. I need to organise my photographs by the scientific name of the species. It's so annoying that I have to insert the name in the caption field just so that I can to get alphabetic listing because some mental giant didn't think anyone would ever want to categorise by title as is standard practice in every library in the world. I then place comments after the name in the caption field. Because I don't necessarily want comments to appear in presentations, I have to duplicate the name in the title field. It would have been so so easy to allow sorting alphabetically by title.
Didn't say SmugMug was about press and editorial - mearly pointing out that they are following a well worn convention. Maybe try another platform?
I have always been sensitive to how third party products handle the Title and Caption metadata fields. I will test from Lightroom with these two metadata fields populated and check what happens to them in the respective application or service before I adopt.

I ran into extreme difficulty in the early days of Wordpress, which seemed to ignore one of these fields (cannot remember which).

The current situation has improved, with many (but unfortunately not all) handling these two metadata fields.

One of the worst culprits for this are Adobe themselves. Caption is used in Lr and Description used in Ps for the same metadata fields. Also, many of the recent Adobe products (such as Slate and similar) expect us to re-type this info, when it is already available in the metadata.

I suspect I stopped using Smugmug for these reasons and currently very happy with Squarespace in terms of how they make use of these fields.
I have invested a lot of time and effort in setting my SmugMug but yes I'll probably have to move elsewhere. I'll certainly check out Squarespace mentioned by Gnits above.
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