The internet’s global reach is quickly increasing the demand for more accessibility, so it’s more important now than ever before to make your videos watchable for all. Captions and subtitles help your content reach that wider, growing audience.

Usually, the two terms interchangeable. Though, in the USA, they get divided into separate categories. 

Let’s break it down.

Subtitles 

Subtitles are a direct translation of dialogue, typically into another language (though that’s not a hard rule). They assume your viewer isn’t fluent in the language in your video, though in some instances they do match the language. Subtitles almost always appear at the bottom of your screen. 

Captions 

Captions transcribe dialogue, but they do so in the same language as the video. They also contain some additional information that subtitles don’t. Typically, captions identify background sounds and music, speakers, and other audio cues. They also don’t always appear at the bottom of the screen, sometimes they’ll move around to flag the source of the audio in the scene.

There are two types of captions. Open Captions cannot be turned off and are “burned” into the video file itself. Closed Captions can be turned on and off by the viewer and are typically found in a settings menu.

They help your video stand out

In addition to widening your video’s accessibility, these devices naturally help you generate thumb-stopping content. In this age of social feeds cluttered with muted videos, viewers often rely on captions to determine whether or not your video is interesting. And, if they like your message, they’ll stop what they’re doing and watch.

More Video School lessons

Learn more about uploading your subtitles and captions to Vimeo in our Help Center.

Art from Joseph Melhuish