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Caption is a heading required on all pleadings (court documents) submitted to the court.

The caption or title of a pleading is the heading or introductory clause which shows the name, address, telephone number of the attorney, the name of the parties, the name of the court, the county where the action is bought, and usually the term of the court and the number of the case on the docket or calendar. Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules regarding the format of the caption. For example, as per Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, every pleading must have a caption with the court’s name, a title, a file number, and a Rule 7(a) designation.

Some other common uses of the term caption in a legal sense include:

  • Caption is that part of a legal instrument such as indictment, commission etc., which shows where, when and by what authority that legal instrument is taken, found, or executed. 
  • As explained in this case from California, the term caption in the context of “taking” required for larceny, means “achieving possession of the property.” 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]