Forgetting to get or add captions or subtitles to your marketing videos is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, and also one of the easiest (and cheapest!) to avoid.
More importantly, captions expand accessibility of your videos. Major B2C brands have faced lawsuits over lack of web accessibility. Don’t wait for someone’s lawyer to call before you make your website and social content accessible. It’s just the right thing to do.
Note: While traditionally the term “captions” was used for a pure transcription of the audio of a video and “subtitle” was reserved for foreign languages, we now see the terms being used interchangeably online. Some platforms call the text on the bottom of the video a caption, and some say subtitle. We’ll use both terms in this guide, and say what term each platform uses.
This guide will explain the different caption and subtitle types, how to decide which type to use, and how to upload closed caption files to different platforms.
Types of video captions and subtitles
Captions are a transcription of the audio in a video. The main types of captions for online videos are closed captions and open (or burned in) captions. Closed captions are what many of us associate with captioning, as those are what you see when you turn on closed captions on a TV. They typically appear as white text on a black background. Closed captions can be toggled on and off on platforms such as YouTube by clicking that little “CC” icon in the bottom corner.