WordPress Image Captions

What is an image caption?

An “image caption” is a small text near a displayed image with some additional information.

This text could contain any additional description you want to or ought to give the audience.

Image caption examples

✔ Describe the main elements of an image.
✔ Point viewers to a specific part of the image.
✔ Display copyright information and author attribution.
✔ Give usage information, e.g., “Click to enlarge.”

Add an image caption in WordPress without a plugin

There are two ways in WordPress to add an image caption. The first stores the caption globally and will be used whenever you add the image to a post; the second embeds the image caption text into the content of a certain post.

A central image caption

After uploading an image into your Media library or directly into a post, you will see a field called “Caption.”

Showing the Image Caption field in the WordPress media library.

When you add the image to the content, the caption is automatically added below it.

An image with a caption below it describing its content.

A post-specific image caption

In the post editor, hover over an image, and find the “Add caption” option in the menu.

Highlight the Add caption option in the WordPress editor.

Whether the caption was filled with the central image caption or you added a new one, you can now edit it below the image in the editor.

Editing the WordPress image caption in the editor.

Why Image Captions get out of sync

The ease of adding and editing the image captions can be deceptive about a very important fact.

WordPress image captions are not synced.

Each caption is written directly into the post content. While the global caption from the media library is added to the post content, when you first add an image to it, a change in the caption here does not update the global caption in the media library.

If you use the same image in multiple places, changing one caption does not update the others.

The lack of central management makes the WordPress image caption unreliable for important information, such as author attributions and usage guidelines.

If you forget or remove a caption unintentionally, WordPress doesn’t tell you that it is missing.

Make WordPress Image Captions reliable

There are many reasons why you want to make WordPress image captions reliably show up on your site.

✔ Legally relevant information, like author attributions.
✔ Giving creators credit for their work.
✔ Keep information up to date.
✔ Guarantee consistency in your content and design.
✔ Know where and how an image is used.

With WordPress lacking central image caption management, you might want to take a look at our Image Source Control to display caption information as reliably as possible.

Did You Know?

I originally built Image Source Control over 12 years ago after a legal argument about a forgotten image attribution. Read the full story below.

The sensitive use case of image credit captions is why the plugin emphasizes central and reliable image caption management in general.

While the plugin is dedicated to image credits, you can use the main input fields for any other caption text you want to manage in a central place and show in various designs.

Manage Image Credit Captions

Image Source Control has various options for entering and managing image credit captions in your WordPress dashboard.

Block Editor. Enter image credit captions in the Media Library or the options of image blocks.

WordPress Image Caption editing in the block editor

Batch processing. Change the image credit captions for multiple images directly in the media library.

Editing the WordPress Image Caption in the Media Library list view.
©MH Themes

Time-saver for my team

When the number of articles on our blog grew, I noticed my team running into trouble managing copyright info for images that we used from external sources.

With Image Source Control, we’ve found a legally reliable and convenient tool for this task. In particular, batch editing and easy linking to the owner’s site really help my team with their work. It’s obvious the ISC devs know what editors need.

Florian Daugalies, MH Themes

Image Caption Layouts

Image Source Control comes with various positions to display image credit captions.

Image Caption Overlay. You can choose from seven positions displayed on top of the image.

The WordPress Image Caption displayed as an overlay over the top left of the image.

Image Caption Behavior. Decide whether to show the full image caption immediately or on interaction, like mouseover or hover. Click for an example.

Hover over the icon to show the image caption.

Credit caption below the image. Display the image credit caption underneath.

The WordPress Image Caption is displayed below the corresponding image.

List image captions below the content. A list of all image captions on the current page. Either automatically below the content or with a position of your choice.

A list of WordPress Image Captions.

Image credit directory. A global directory of all image credits on a dedicated page. Choose the visible columns like the thumbnail, usage, or credit line.

A directory of WordPress Image Captions and Credits.

Simple Security for Voluntary Work

With over 300 websites, it’s important for Amnesty International that our groups can present themselves securely on the internet without unnecessarily complicating their volunteer efforts. Image Source Control Pro enables us to ensure this legal security in portraying media sources in all areas of our web presence easily and straightforwardly, even for volunteers, and to integrate it into our own design.

In addition, it offers our users useful tools such as automatic source verification and reminders and the ability to edit an entire photo series with a single click. All in all, we wouldn’t want to miss the functions of Image Source Control Pro in our daily work.

Amnesty International Germany

Smart options for WordPress image credit captions

Adjust the content of image caption credits, including a general label, multiple outgoing links, and optional license information.

Choose recognized images. Whether they are images in the content, all visible images, or even background images buried deep into your site’s code and options.

Select the columns in the global image credit list and decide on the size of the preview image.

Auto-fill the image caption with custom text, the uploader’s name, or IPTC metadata.

Seven positions are available for the image caption overlay layout.

Developers love the ease of adding their own CSS styles or extending functions via WordPress hooks.

3000 EUR for a Forgotten Photo Source

Portrait of Thomas Maier, founder and CEO of Image Source Control

In 2012, I received a letter from a law firm specialized in missing image credits. On my private blog, I had failed to mention the author of an image from a photo database.

The penalty: 3000 EUR plus the attorney’s fee of the opposing side.

For other images from this platform, I had mentioned the author in the image captions. However, during the last revision of the post, I must have forgotten or accidentally deleted it. Unfortunately, WordPress gives no indication when this happens.

Luckily, my lawyer was able to avert the major damage—for a fee—as it was a non-commercial blog. For my professional and client projects, I have since used Image Source Control to ensure that image credit captions are entered and displayed.

Thomas Maier, developer of Image Source Control

Why You Want a WordPress Plugin for Image Credit Captions

Image Credit Caption without a pluginImage Credit Caption with
Image Source Control
Editing in the Media Library
Editing in the Block Editor
Updating all image credit captions upon change×
Overview of missing image credit captions×
Warning for missing image credit captions×
Captions for automatically embedded images, e.g., galleries×
Captions for background images×
Batch processing for image credit captions×
Displaying the image caption as an overlay×
Lists with image captions below posts or on a dedicated page×

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an image caption?

An image caption is a text visibly attached to an image. It could contain information about the image’s content, give more context and explanations, or contain legal data like the author or usage rights.

What is an image credit caption?

An image credit is the attribution of an image towards its creator or licensor. The image credit caption makes this information visible close to the image itself. If the image author is also the publisher, they could give further advice on how others are allowed to use their work.

Can I use WordPress image captions without a plugin?

WordPress comes with dedicated fields for showing image captions in a given post. They are fine for images you only use once on your whole site, where the information is neither legally required nor might need occasional updates.

I have questions about Image Source Control

Please see the common questions in our general FAQ and the pricing FAQ. You can also use the support form for pre-sale questions and priority email support.