What are the halachos of reading captions near picutes on Shabbos? Why does it seem that many people are maykil regarding this and read newspapers and magazines on Shabbos which are full of captions?
When looking at pictures on Shabbos one should avoid reading the caption (see Shabbos 149a, Rashi “kesav,” Rosh 23:2, Shulchan Aruch 307:15, Levush 15). The reason for this (as Mishnah Berurah cites) is that one may come to read business documents (see also Eliyah Rabba 307:15). However, it would be permitted to read the caption without looking at the picture, and the prohibition is only to read the caption together with looking at the picture (Masas Shabbos p. 424 note 1).
The prohibition applies today as in previous generations (see Avnei Yashfei Vol. 5, Orach Chaim 61).
If the caption is Torah-related it would not fall under the prohibition. In addition, a caption that is a name alone is not prohibited (Magen Avraham 323:5).