Easy Steps for Adding Closed Captions to Your Videos

Video closed captioning is a powerful way to make sure everyone can enjoy your content, regardless of their age, their native language, or their hearing ability. Closed captions not only increase your content’s accessibility, but can also make it easier to find in search engines.

If you’re an aspiring content creator in the digital age, adding closed captions to your videos is a must. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make video closed captions.

Why You Should Caption Your Content

Video closed captions are more than just a transcription of the spoken words in a video. It’s estimated that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. And even among those that are heard, many languages and accents are not readily understood by a global audience.

One of the largest and most underrepresented audiences are those with disabilities. Captions mean that individuals with hearing impairments will finally have access to your content. Captions also make it easier for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing to interpret and understand the content of any video. Whether they’re watching a tutorial, an educational video, or an entertainment piece, captions let them access the same content as everyone else.

In addition to the accessibility benefits, captions also make it easier to spot keywords in video content. Making your content accessible to search engines helps you boost organic search traffic.

Speaking of boosting your search rankings, captions will also help increase your SEO. Search engines like Google understand text, but they don’t yet understand speech. By adding captions to your videos, you’re giving Google more information to work with, which can result in an improved search engine ranking and increased visibility.

Types of Video Captions

One of the first steps in creating closed captions is to understand the different types you can choose from. In short, there are three main types of captions: open captions, closed captions, and transcripts. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Open Captions

Open captions don’t require a third-party program or video player to be enabled. As they’re already embedded into the video, they don’t need to be switched on. If you check out most television channels, you’ll notice they use open captions.

Closed Captions

Unlike open captions, closed captions are not embedded into the video itself. In other words, they can’t be seen without enabling them via the playback controls of the video player. The two most common file types for closed captions are subtitles for the Web (SUB) and Timed Text Markup Language (TTML).


Unlike captions, transcripts are plain text formats rather than the timed subtitle formats used with captions. A transcript includes the text verbatim of what’s spoken in the video. It doesn’t include translations to other languages, descriptions of sounds, or additional information like speaker identifications.

Creating Captions

Now that you’re aware of the benefits of closed captions and the types of closed captions available, it’s time to learn how to make video closed captions.


The simplest way to create captions is to do it manually. Start by transcribing the audio of the video into a text document. It may help to listen to sections of the audio in loop, as well as to pause and rewind the audio to make sure you capture nuances.

Incorporate speaker IDs into the transcription so you include the character a speaker is playing. It’ll help viewers get a better understanding of the video you’re creating.

Next, you’ll want to time the file. Captions must appear on the screen in sync with the audio. To keep things as close as possible, ensure that the caption’s start time is after the spoken word, and the end time is just before the next spoken word.

Finally, you’ll need to format the captions. This includes basic grammar rules such as capitalizing proper nouns and the start of a sentence, and punctuating dialogue.

Depending on the platform you’re working with, you may need to save your captions in a specific format. YouTube provides subtitles in three formats: SubViewer, SubRip, and SubStation Alpha.


You can also create closed captions automatically. Speech-to-text translator tools such as YouTube’s automatic captioning service use sophisticated algorithms to convert spoken words into captions.

To do this, these tools analyze the audio in your video and create captions as best they can. They’ll also identify any related images to look for contextual clues. The most accurate results you get with this type of service should be seen as a basis for your captions, rather than a final product. As such, those looking for accuracy should do it manually.

Testing Your Captions

Once you’ve created your captions, you’ll want to do a final check to ensure they’ve been synced properly. To start, preview and listen to your video. Doing this will help you verify the start and end times of captions, as well as find typos, punctuation mistakes, or misheard words.

Next, listen to the audio without captions to ensure you’ve captured conversations correctly and that the dialogue is in sync with the stream.

Finally, turn the video’s captions on and get someone else to watch the video. Watch it along with this person to ensure you’ve got the correct spelling of names, and also see if any words have been skipped or misspoken.


Video closed captions are essential for content creators who want to make their work accessible to the largest audience possible and boost their SEO rankings. Now you know the types of captions and the methods for creating them. You also know how important it is to test your work before publishing it. The next time you create a video, add captions and make sure everyone can enjoy your content.

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