Everything you need to know about video captions

Why you should consider captions

Nearly 75% of online traffic is video streaming. Making sure these videos are accessible to the widest possible audience is of the utmost importance. That is why we are encouraging all our clients to consider captioning their projects. By including captions you will help more people enjoy your videos, across different platforms, and they’ll even rank better on platforms like YouTube.

Open captions or closed captions?

Captions can be implemented as either Open Captions or Closed Captions, often referred to as CC.

Closed captions have the benefit of allowing the viewer to turn them on and off as required. Users may have experienced closed captions with video streaming services such as Netflix, Stan, Vimeo or Youtube by toggling captions on and off. Many implementations of closed captions, including on YouTube, allow viewers who need or want to, to select their own styling including font, size, and colour. This allows people with visual impairments to select settings that are best suited for them.

Open captions are embedded (burnt) into the video and can’t be turned off. Open captions have a number of disadvantages, such as:

  • Offering the user no choice
  • Suffering from visual degradation when videos are repurposed, re-encoded, or streamed in a location with slow internet speeds
  • Failing to scale with the size of the screen resulting in the text appearing too small on some phones, and too large if screened in a cinema.

It is for these reasons that most guides promote the use of closed captions where possible.


Closed Captions should be used when a platform supports closed captioning.

Open Captions should only be used when closed captioning is unavailable.

Closed Captions – Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, LinkedIn

Caption file (.srt)  should be delivered by video producer.
Caption files are uploaded alongside the video file.

Open Captions – Instagram, in person events, Zoom, TikTok

Presently the main platforms that don’t support closed captions are Instagram and TikTok.

When uploading videos to Instagram or TikTok, a separate video deliverable is required with burnt in captions. These captions should follow the client’s style guide.

This same file can also be used for in person events, Zoom meetings, or any situation where the use of the closed caption is not possible.

For example at an event you could play the video directly off YouTube with closed captions enabled, but if you are unsure if you’ll have internet access, use the Open Caption version.

Manual captioning vs auto captioning

YouTube offers a fantastic AI based service that auto captions your videos for you. These are pretty good, but you will still want to double check that the spelling, timing and punctuation are correct.

When we deliver captions to you, we’ll use a combination of AI based software and then go over each caption checking for errors. The file can also be used across multiple platforms so you know your captions will be correct on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and linkedIn.

Subtitles vs captions

People often use the terms Caption and Subtitle interchangeably, but they are actually different. Subtitles are a type of caption that includes translation from 1 language into the primary language of the video. We recommend using a translation service, such as the one provided by SBS, if you have a project that requires translating.  

Have a project that requires captions?

If you’ve got an upcoming project that requires captioning, or want to chat with us about any project in the works please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Want to learn more?

There is no single guideline or best practice document for how to caption videos online. We draw on a number of key documents when making sure we implement the best captions possible, including:

Netflix’s “Timed Text Style Guide: General Requirements”
Deafness Forum Australia “Captioning Quality Code of Practice”
FreeTV Australia’s “Operational Practise 42 & 47”

The Premiere Pro Captioning window