Adding captions and subtitles to video is beneficial for a range of audiences, and for a variety of reasons. It makes video content accessible for individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing, for those who don't fully understand the language of the video, and even for those who want to watch your video on the go.
Interestingly, subtitles are becoming more and more popular among young people. A 2021 study by the BBC found that 80% of 18-25 year olds use subtitles all or some of the time, largely to help them follow a show - especially if other distractions and devices are competing for their attention.
It's never been easier to add subtitles and captions to video. In this guide we'll walk you through three quick and easy ways to add captions and make sure your content is easy to access for everyone!
The terms captions and subtitles are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference. Captions are designed for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, while subtitles are designed for viewers who can hear, but don't understand the language being spoken in the video.
Subtitles are typically used for video content that is likely to be consumed by an international audience, and they're simply a transcription of the dialogue.
Captions go a step further and also include background noises (like screaming, a knock at the door, or a crash of thunder), speaker differentiation, and other relevant information to make content more accessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
They come in two forms: open or closed captions. Closed captions (CC) can be turned off by the viewer, while open captions are embedded into the video and can't be turned off.
There are global guidelines in place to encourage web content accessibility, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and standards for captioning can be found on the W3C website.
Before you get started, you'll need to transcribe your video to get a script. There are several ways to do this:
Depending on the length of the video and how much time you've got on your hands, you could manually transcribe your video, noting down everything that's said as well as any background noises and additional information that would be useful for viewers.
Human transcription services promise the best possible accuracy, and can include the elements necessary for captions like background noises, but since it's real-life professional transcribers doing the job, these services are often expensive and can take quite a long time.
Automatic transcription services like Transcribe harness the power of artificial intelligence to give you fast, high-quality transcriptions in a matter of minutes. They're perfect for subtitles, and to turn them into captions you can simply go through the video and add in any extra details.
2. Upload your video file
3. Select the language of your video
4. Start the transcription process
5. Export your transcript with timestamps in SRT format
No matter how you choose to transcribe your video, save your subtitle or caption file with timestamps in SRT so that it's ready to upload to your video.
SRT is a file format specifically for subtitles and captions, made up of time coding and plain text, which video software reads and extracts in order to display subtitles on your video.
Once you've got your video transcript, the next step is to add it to your video so that it appears as captions. Here are three of the easiest ways to add captions to video:
One of the easiest ways to add captions to a video is on Google Drive. It's quick, straightforward, and completely free. Here's how you do it:
1. Sign in or sign up to Google Drive
2. Upload your video
3. Click the More sign (three dots) and choose Manage caption tracks
4. Click Add new caption tracks
5. Select your caption file in SRT format
6. Choose the language of your new captions and give the captions track a title
7. Click Upload to add captions to your video
Adding captions to a YouTube video is quick, easy and free too. You can do so directly on the platform.
1. Sign in or sign up to YouTube
2. Upload your video
3. Open the video and navigate to Subtitles/CC
4. Click Add language and select your language
5. Under subtitles, click Add
6. Upload your transcript, or opt to type your captions out manually or use the automatic captions function
7. When ready, save your video
Kapwing is an online content creation platform that you can use to add captions to videos, with the added bonus of being able to edit how they look on screen. It's free to use for videos up to seven minutes long, or you can upgrade to a $16/month plan for longer videos.
1. Sign up or sign in to Kapwing
2. Upload your video
3. Click Add subtitle
4. Upload your SRT file
5. Adjust the font, size, color, and position of the subtitles on your video
6. When that's done, save and download your video
Once you've added captions or subtitles to your video, you're ready to upload it and share it for your entire audience to enjoy.
Written By Katie Garrett