VALUE OF ILLUSTRATIONS. The perfecting of photo-engraving processes for

making illustrations has been one of the most important factors in the

development of popular magazines and of magazine sections of newspapers,

for good pictures have contributed largely to their success. With the

advent of the half-tone process a generation ago, and with the more

recent application of the rotogravure process to periodical

ons, comparatively cheap and rapid methods of illustration were

provided. Newspapers and magazines have made extensive use of both these


The chief value of illustrations for special articles lies in the fact

that they present graphically what would require hundreds of words to

describe. Ideas expressed in pictures can be grasped much more readily

than ideas expressed in words. As an aid to rapid reading illustrations

are unexcelled. In fact, so effective are pictures as a means of

conveying facts that whole sections of magazines and Sunday newspapers

are given over to them exclusively.

Illustrations constitute a particularly valuable adjunct to special

articles. Good reproductions of photographs printed in connection with

the articles assist readers to visualize and to understand what a writer

is undertaking to explain. So fully do editors realize the great

attractiveness of illustrations, that they will buy articles accompanied

by satisfactory photographs more readily than they will those without

illustrations. Excellent photographs will sometimes sell mediocre

articles, and meritorious articles may even be rejected because they

lack good illustrations. In preparing his special feature stories, a

writer will do well to consider carefully the number and character of

the illustrations necessary to give his work the strongest possible


SECURING PHOTOGRAPHS. Inexperienced writers are often at a loss to know

how to secure good photographs. Professional photographers will, as a

rule, produce the best results, but amateur writers often hesitate to

incur the expense involved, especially when they feel uncertain about

selling their articles. If prints can be obtained from negatives that

photographers have taken for other purposes, the cost is so small that a

writer can afford to risk the expenditure. Money spent for good

photographs is usually money well spent.

Every writer of special articles should become adept in the use of a

camera. With a little study and practice, any one can take photographs

that will reproduce well for illustrations. One advantage to a writer of

operating his own camera is that he can take pictures on the spur of the

moment when he happens to see just what he needs. Unconventional

pictures caught at the right instant often make the best illustrations.

The charges for developing films and for making prints and enlargements

are now so reasonable that a writer need not master these technicalities

in order to use a camera of his own. If he has time and interest,

however, he may secure the desired results more nearly by developing and

printing his own pictures.

Satisfactory pictures can be obtained with almost any camera, but one

with a high-grade lens and shutter is the best for all kinds of work. A

pocket camera so equipped is very convenient. If a writer can afford to

make a somewhat larger initial investment, he will do well to buy a

camera of the so-called "reflex" type. Despite its greater weight and

bulk, as compared with pocket cameras, it has the advantage of showing

the picture full size, right side up, on the top of the camera, until

the very moment that the button is pressed. These reflex cameras are

equipped with the fastest types of lens and shutter, and thus are

particularly well adapted to poorly lighted and rapidly moving objects.

A tripod should be used whenever possible. A hastily taken snap shot

often proves unsatisfactory, whereas, if the camera had rested on a

tripod, and if a slightly longer exposure had been given, a good

negative would doubtless have resulted.

REQUIREMENTS FOR PHOTOGRAPHS. All photographs intended for reproduction

by the half-tone or the rotogravure process should conform to certain


First: The standard size of photographic prints to be used for

illustrations is 5 x 7 inches, but two smaller sizes, 4 x 5 and 3½ x

5½, as well as larger sizes such as 6½ x 8½ and 8 x 10, are

also acceptable. Professional photographers generally make their

negatives for illustrations in the sizes, 5 x 7, 6½ x 8½, and 8 x

10. If a writer uses a pocket camera taking pictures smaller than

post-card size (3½ x 5½), he must have his negatives enlarged to

one of the above standard sizes.

Second: Photographic prints for illustrations should have a glossy

surface; that is, they should be what is known as "gloss prints." Prints

on rough paper seldom reproduce satisfactorily; they usually result in

"muddy" illustrations. Prints may be mounted or unmounted; unmounted

ones cost less and require less postage, but are more easily broken in


Third: Objects in the photograph should be clear and well defined; this

requires a sharp negative. For newspaper illustrations it is desirable

to have prints with a stronger contrast between the dark and the light

parts of the picture than is necessary for the finer half-tones and

rotogravures used in magazines.

Fourth: Photographs must have life and action. Pictures of inanimate

objects in which neither persons nor animals appear, seem "dead" and

unattractive to the average reader. It is necessary, therefore, to have

at least one person in every photograph. Informal, unconventional

pictures in which the subjects seem to have been "caught" unawares, are

far better than those that appear to have been posed. Good snap-shots of

persons in characteristic surroundings are always preferable to cabinet

photographs. "Action pictures" are what all editors and all readers


Fifth: Pictures must "tell the story"; that is, they should illustrate

the phase of the subject that they are designed to make clear. Unless a

photograph has illustrative value it fails to accomplish the purpose for

which it is intended.

CAPTIONS FOR ILLUSTRATIONS. On the back of a photograph intended for

reproduction the author should write or type a brief explanation of what

it represents. If he is skillful in phrasing this explanation, or

"caption," as it is called, the editor will probably use all or part of

it just as it stands. If his caption is unsatisfactory, the editor will

have to write one based on the writer's explanation. A clever caption

adds much to the attractiveness of an illustration.

A caption should not be a mere label, but, like a photograph, should

have life and action. It either should contain a verb of action or

should imply one. In this and other respects, it is not unlike the

newspaper headline. Instead, for example, of the label title, "A Large

Gold Dredge in Alaska," a photograph was given the caption, "Digs Out a

Fortune Daily." A picture of a young woman feeding chickens in a

backyard poultry run that accompanied an article entitled "Did You Ever

Think of a Meat Garden?" was given the caption "Fresh Eggs and Chicken

Dinners Reward Her Labor." To illustrate an article on the danger of the

pet cat as a carrier of disease germs, a photograph of a child playing

with a cat was used with the caption, "How Epidemics Start." A portrait

of a housewife who uses a number of labor-saving devices in her home

bore the legend, "She is Reducing Housekeeping to a Science." "A Smoking

Chimney is a Bad Sign" was the caption under a photograph of a chimney

pouring out smoke, which was used to illustrate an article on how to

save coal.

Longer captions describing in detail the subject illustrated by the

photograph, are not uncommon; in fact, as more and more pictures are

being used, there is a growing tendency to place a short statement, or

"overline," above the illustration and to add to the amount of

descriptive matter in the caption below it. This is doubtless due to two

causes: the increasing use of illustrations unaccompanied by any text

except the caption, and the effort to attract the casual reader by

giving him a taste, as it were, of what the article contains.

DRAWINGS FOR ILLUSTRATIONS. Diagrams, working drawings, floor plans,

maps, or pen-and-ink sketches are necessary to illustrate some articles.

Articles of practical guidance often need diagrams. Trade papers like to

have their articles illustrated with reproductions of record sheets and

blanks designed to develop greater efficiency in office or store

management. If a writer has a little skill in drawing, he may prepare in

rough form the material that he considers desirable for illustration,

leaving to the artists employed by the publication the work of making

drawings suitable for reproduction. A writer who has had training in

pen-and-ink drawing may prepare his own illustrations. Such drawings

should be made on bristol board with black drawing ink, and should be

drawn two or three times as large as they are intended to appear when

printed. If record sheets are to be used for illustration, the ruling

should be done with black drawing ink, and the figures and other data

should be written in with the same kind of ink. Typewriting on blanks

intended for reproduction should be done with a fresh record black

ribbon. Captions are necessary on the back of drawings as well as on


MAILING PHOTOGRAPHS AND DRAWINGS. It is best to mail flat all

photographs and drawings up to 8 x 10 in size, in the envelope with the

manuscript, protecting them with pieces of stout cardboard. Only very

large photographs or long, narrow panoramic ones should be rolled and

mailed in a heavy cardboard tube, separate from the manuscript. The

writer's name and address, as well as the title of the article to be

illustrated, should be written on the back of every photograph and


As photographs and drawings are not ordinarily returned when they are

used with an article that is accepted, writers should not promise to

return such material to the persons from whom they secure it. Copies can

almost always be made from the originals when persons furnishing writers

with photographs and drawings desire to have the originals kept in good