The term caption is subject to different definitions, but in a legal context it refers to the heading of a motion or other document filed with a court that typically contains the names of the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s), the name of the court, the assigned judge, and the case number.
Case captions are governed by the state and local rules of procedure, which vary by jurisdiction. The following is an example of one state's rules governing case captions:
"Case Caption Information: All documents shall contain the following information arranged in the following order, as illustrated by paragraph (e) or (f) of this rule. Individual boxes should separate this case caption information; however, vertical lines are not mandatory.
On the left side:
- Court name and mailing address.
- Name of parties.
- Name, address, and telephone number of the attorney or pro se party filing the document. Fax number and e-mail address are optional.
- Attorney registration number.
- Document title.
On the right side:
- An area for "Court Use Only" that is at least 2½ inches in width and 1¾ inches in length (located opposite the court and party information).
- Case number, division number, and courtroom number (located opposite the attorney information above)."