The 2021 UniD DESCRIPTION TEMPLATE
As a way to suggest shape for your descriptions, we have created a template for describing that goes in this order, and in this style:
DESCRIBING: [Describe the type of thing you are describing here, i.e. A small, black-and-white photograph]
SYNOPSIS: [~ 1 paragraph overview, 4 to 8 chunks of information; hit the highlights]
IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: [The rest of the description, if needed]
CAPTION: [Caption goes here]
CREDIT: [Credit goes here]
RELATED TEXT: [Related text goes here]
Start with the type of image, such as MAP: (we found the inclusion of MAP, TEXT, PHOTO, and the like, helps to set the stage for the listener in the Table of Contents view). This label then should include the basic information to tell the listeners what they will get by selecting this description, such as the title of the image being described (if it has one), who made it (if that seems important), and the year it was created (if that seems important), and its physical location at the place (if that's relevant).
EXAMPLES (from Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument):
- IMAGES: Suffragist efforts
- IMAGES and TEXT: Park access
- IMAGE, QUOTE, and TEXT: Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party
- TEXT: Definition of "suffrage"
- MAP: Area around monument
- CHART and TIMELINE: The path to equal rights
- CHART and QUOTE: Percentage of women in congress
How would you describe the artifact you are describing? In this order: Size (small / medium / large) / Shape (horizontal / vertical / square / cut-out / oval / circle) / Type (i.e., photograph, chart, or map; see hierarchy below), distinctive characteristics (like the primary or only image on the page), and the point of view that the listener has (through what frame is this image being conveyed?) ... note only if in black and white (not if in color)
EXAMPLES (from Desert National Wildlife Refuge):
- DESCRIBING: A small, shield-shaped illustration.
- DESCRIBING: A small, horizontal photograph.
- DESCRIBING: A small, square photograph.
- DESCRIBING: A column of small, square photographs that illustrate elements of the page's text.
- DESCRIBING: Color photograph of a golden eagle in close-up, portrait style.
- DESCRIBING: A medium-sized square map with a column of small, horizontal photographs beneath it.
- DESCRIBING: A large map that spreads across two pages of the brochure.
FOR EACH PIECE OF MEDIA BEING DESCRIBED
Choose the description style you will use:
- UniD Storytelling Style, typically for people-oriented images: Tell the story of the image. Who is doing what (to whom?), in this image, when and where, and how and why? A visual story involves both a complication and a resolution. Can you determine both parts of the story in this image?
- UniD Explanatory Style, typically for object-oriented images (i.e. artifacts, landscapes, maps): What is the primary purpose(s) of showing this image? What is it trying to communicate visually? When is it? Where is it? How does it work? How might someone use this image? Why is it important to be shown in this way?
If the component has just a single type of media being described, here is the template for putting the description together (if more than one type, other examples follow):
COPY AND PASTE THIS TEMPLATE INTO YOUR COMPONENT
DESCRIBING: Describe the image being described (per the examples above)
SYNOPSIS: ~ 1 paragraph of Description goes here; present the highlights of the image, ideally in four chunks of information but not more than eight chunks of information to avoid cognitive overload
IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: If needed (not always necessary), the rest of the Description goes here, as a continuation of the Synopsis Description (so not saying the same things over again but starting from the synopsis and building from that structure, as if the listener selected "Hear More"); this can be as long as needed, but it also should be structured with the most important description first, second most second, and so on.
CAPTION: Caption goes here
CREDIT: Credit goes here
RELATED TEXT: Related text goes here
AND, IF ... MULTIPLE MEDIA ITEMS OF THE SAME TYPE
If more than 1 of any of these, then signal with a label, like:
IMAGE 1 of 6 over the first one, IMAGE 2 of 6 over the second one, and so on ...
EXAMPLE (from Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site):
IMAGE 1 of 3: Ulysses S. Grant
DESCRIBING: A small, oval, black and white photograph.
SYNOPSIS: An 1866 black and white oval photograph of Ulysses S Grant. The 44 year-old Grant is shown in a studio setting, seated with his left arm resting on a table and his left leg crossed over his right. He has dark hair, trimmed above his ears, combed over and parted on his left. He has a neatly trimmed short beard and mustache and a thin-lipped serious expression. His head his turned slightly to his left following his gaze. His right eyebrow is slightly raised. He is wearing a military frock coat with black cuffs, epaulettes denoting his rank as a General. He has on a white shirt with a small bowtie and a dark vest with a watch fob. His right arm lays across his body with his hand resting on his left knee. His open left hand reveals his wedding band on his little finger.
CAPTION: Ulysses S. Grant in 1866, about the time he received the rank of General of the US Army, “conferred by Act of Congress, and the will of the President of the United States.”
CREDIT: Library of Congress
IMAGE 2 of 3: Julia Dent Grant
DESCRIBING: A small, oval, black and white photograph.
SYNOPSIS: An 1864 black and white oval photograph of Julia Dent Grant. The 38 year-old is shown seated on a wooden chair turned to her right at almost a profile position with her hands clasped in her lap. Julia’s dark hair is parted in the middle and pulled tightly back and tied into a bun. She has a prominent nose, her eyes are closed and she is not smiling. She wears a dark colored, closely buttoned dress which is pulled tightly at the waist and flows freely to the floor. She has a white collar and white ruffled blouse sleeves. She has wide cuffs with two white bands surrounding a darker band. There are two designs on each upper arm consisting of those same white bands encircled by darker colored ribbon.
CAPTION: Julia Dent Grant later recalled that this 1864 photograph ”was taken by Brady in New York when I was on my first visit to N.Y. the spring that General Grant first came East.”
CREDIT: Library of Congress
IMAGE 3 of 3: The Grant family
DESCRIBING: A medium, rectangular, black and white photograph.
SYNOPSIS: This black and white photograph of the Grant family was taken around 1866. The portrait shows the family against a washed-out background that appears to be a wall, with decorative panels across the bottom and a broad baseboard. The portrait is stiff and formal and is in contrast to the warm and loving relationship the family actually had evident from their positions in the photograph.
IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The Grants are arranged in a row, with 11-year old Ellen – nicknamed Nellie – standing at the far left. She is attired in an ankle-length, graph-checked dress that appears to be off her shoulders and has a full hoop skirt. The dress is belted at the waist. She wears a pair of what look to be leather shoes with cross straps at her ankles. Her hair is parted in the middle and lays flat against the side of her head. She is wearing a beaded necklace that hangs loosely around her neck. Nellie’s left hand is resting gently on the left shoulder of her father, Ulysses Grant, who is seated to her right. He is wearing a Union officer’s uniform that is open at the front, exposing a white shirt and a bow tie. He has crossed his right leg over the left at the knee. He wears a neatly trimmed beard and mustache and short hair. His left arm is draped around the waist of 8-year old Jesse, the youngest of the Grant children. Jesse’s dark hair is parted on the left side and falls to near his ears. He leans against his father in a relaxed pose. Jessie is wearing what may be a boy’s version of a uniform, with white socks and dark shoes. The shirt has dark lines running down each side and meet at a wide belt. The pants are loose and are closed at the ankles. Jesse stands to the right of his older brother, Fred. Fred is 16 years old and is standing very straight with his right arm bent slightly across his waist, while his left arm is hanging at his side. His hair is parted on his right and is short, reaching just above the ears. He is wearing a military-type uniform, with epaulettes and a wide three-button cuff with dark trim. The jacket is open at the front with buttons on the left, revealing a white shirt underneath. Fred is wearing a pair of straight, loose trousers. To Fred’s left is Julia Grant, Ulysses Grant’s wife. Julia, like Ulysses, is seated. She is dressed in a full-length black dress with hoop skirt. The dress reaches her neck and ends with a small white collar. Her hands are held demurely on her lap. Like Nellie, her hair is parted in the middle and straight on the sides with a bun in the rear. The boy standing on Julia's left is Ulysses S. Grant Jr., about fourteen, more commonly known as Buck. He is also dressed in a military uniform but his jacket is buttoned to the neck. His left arm is bent across his chest and right arm hangs at his side, partially hidden behind his mother. His uniform is almost an exact duplicate of the one worn by Fred. Nellie, Ulysses Grant, and Jesse appear to be looking at the camera, while Fred, Julia, and Buck are gazing to the left.
CAPTION: The Grant family ca. 1866: Ellen “Nellie,” Ulysses, Jesse, Fred, Julia, and Ulysses Jr. “Buck.”
AND, IF ... MULTIPLE MEDIA ITEMS OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES (THE PRIORITIZED ORDER)
If multiple types of media are gathered together in a package of media, that needs to be kept together to be understood fully, this is the hierarchy we use to stack the descriptions (as UniD style, not based on empirical study):
A. COLLAGE / IMAGE(S) = photo or illustration /
B. MAP /
C. TIMELINE /
D. CHART /
E. QUOTE /
EXAMPLE (from Lincoln Memorial): Image is described first, then the quote is added afterward
IMAGE and QUOTE: Lincoln Memorial
DESCRIBING: A large vertical photograph of the Lincoln Memorial at night covering the entire front side of the brochure, with a quote and a text block overlaying the bottom half of the image.
SYNOPSIS: This full-color photograph shows the Lincoln Memorial at night, as seen from the reflecting pool. The evening sky behind the memorial fades from light fuchsia at the top to deep plum closer to the horizon. Greenish lights can be seen illuminating the black outlines of buildings of the city skyline in the distance. The top quarter of the page is filled mainly by the memorial itself.
IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The memorial is a white rectangular structure, designed to resemble an ancient Greek temple. It is fronted by 12 columns that bulge slightly in the middle before tapering at the top and bottom. These columns support a large marble roof with a smaller rectangular attic perched on top of it. Engravings of eagles with their wings outstretched are connected by a carved garland of leaves, draped across the top edge of this attic. This detail work is visible in the golden glow of spotlights cast upward from the lower roof.
The lower rectangle of the building contains the main chamber of the memorial. The white marble is visible in the golden lights being cast down behind the columns. This divides the memorial into three sections, with the outer thirds strongly illuminated and the center third much darker. The front wall of the memorial opens behind the center four columns, revealing the illuminated statue of President Lincoln seated within. This statue is centered between the middle two columns of the memorial and is lit by the same golden light as the outside of the building.
The monument appears to float in darkness, elevated from the water of the Reflecting Pool, a long rectangular body of water in front of the memorial. Light from the memorial reflects in the pink and orange water that takes up the bottom three-quarters of the photograph and extends from the first fold to the bottom of the image. The surface of the Reflecting Pool is gently ruffled by the wind.
CREDIT: Robert Lautman.
QUOTE: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.
NOTE: Remove all document navigation directions in the texts, which are likely to cause confusion when disassociated with the document design.
For example, in the text below, from Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, I would remove "(above left)", "(above)" and "(right)."
The NAACP honored Young in 1916 (above left). The army was not supportive and kept Young out of World War I. He rode his horse (above) from Ohio to DC to prove his fitness. Instead, he was sent to Camp Grant in Illinois to train troops (right).
The NAACP honored Young in 1916. The army was not supportive and kept Young out of World War I. He rode his horse from Ohio to DC to prove his fitness. Instead, he was sent to Camp Grant in Illinois to train troops.
Last updated by: Brett Oppegaard, Aug. 1, 2021