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How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Videos in 2022

Many of us have become more comfortable learning visually. Delivering information on a product, service, or company through video can help to keep your audience’s attention longer and make what you have to say more easily understood.” – Savannah Stewart

Videos are one of the most powerful and engaging digital marketing tools today. Recent data shows that about 87% of businesses globally use video marketing. However, a sizable number of video content are not accessible to certain audiences. Why? Simply because they lack captions and subtitles.

Video accessibility is required by international web accessibility standards. Plus, adding captions and subtitles to your video improves how people understand your content and encourages viral sharing. So, what are your options? We’ll get to that soon, but first, let’s get some definitions straight.

What are Captions?

Captions are words displayed on the screen that describes the speech and actions in multimedia content (video or audio) in real-time. Often, they provide relevant information such as the speaker’s name, background sounds, and other sound effects. Captions may be “open” (always displayed) or “closed (enabled when needed). Here’s an example of closed captions in effect:

A man talking about web accessibility with caption displaying what he says in real-time

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles are translations of the spoken audio into a language the viewer or listener can understand. Unlike captions, subtitles do not include background sounds or sound effects. 

In the image below, both a closed captioning and subtitling (from English to French language) were used:

A movie scene with both caption and subtitle

How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Videos

Advancements in technology and software developments have made adding captions and subtitles to your videos a walk in the park. We’ve sorted some of our recommendations into the following categories:
  • Video Editing Software
  • Online Video Websites
  • Social Media Websites
  • Do It Yourself
  • Video Editing Software

    One nifty way of adding captions to a video is by using video editing software. Camtasia is a good choice. It’s available on Mac and Windows. Adding captions to video with Camtasia Follow the instructions to add captions using Camtasia. Inside Camtasia, you can add captions by going under the Audio Effects in the side panel and then Captions. Click it and drag it down to your audio track which is also the video track in this case and it automatically shows you the waveform and splits the captions into four-second increments. Next, go through the entire video clicking on each caption that you want to add. Another nice option about this is maybe you’re not the fastest typist and you want to be able to try and keep up with what your speaker saying, but it just goes by too fast. So you click the caption you want to hear and the play button that has the looping arrows will play the selected clip continuously until you’re able to get the caption written down. As you do that you go through all of your captions adjusting for the right duration so that you don’t have too long of a caption on screen at any one given time and so it makes sense where the caption breaks are.

    Online Video Sharing Websites

    YouTube is the most widely used video sharing website world over. Ensuring your YouTube videos are optimized for accessibility is very important if you want to extend your reach.

    'Add Subtitle' Page on YouTube Studio

    To add captions to a YouTube video, do the following. Make a YouTube video and then upload it to the YouTube studio editor. From there, you can choose to add new subtitles or closed captions from the subtitles panel.

    You can choose from three options. Upload an SRT file, transcribe manually, or use YouTube’s auto-transcribing (you can edit what they’ve already done).

    You can upload an SRT file if you have already created one. If you want to edit it, you can click on any of the options to make changes.

    That’s all there is to it.

    You can easily edit YouTube’s auto-translation after it is finished if you choose to use it.

    Social Media Websites

    Faceook provides a couple of ways to add captions to videos. As of 2016, 85% of Facebook videos were watched on mute, so captions are a great way to ensure your videos can be understood on mute.

    Add Subtitle to Videos Page on Facebook

    Facebook will automatically create captions for your videos if you post them to a Business page. To create captions, follow these steps:

    First, upload your video.

    Drag your video to the “Write something…” section of the page, or click the “Share a photo or video” icon to upload one from your computer.

    Facebook will begin uploading your video in the popup. In the “Say something about your video…” box, you can also add the copy for your video. This copy will appear alongside your video post in the Facebook feed.

    Select ‘Save Draft’ from the drop-down next to the Publish button. You can schedule your video later, don’t worry. Meanwhile, the video will still be a draft, available in Publishing Tools > Posts > Drafts.

    When you get the popup about your video processing, click on the Edit Video button when you’ve saved your video as a draft.

    When you click “Edit Video,” you’ll see several tabs. You’ll find an option to upload an SRT file here (which we’ll cover later). If, however, you wish to generate captions automatically, click the Generate button.

    Having trouble seeing the Generate button?

    Your video may still be processing. If this is the case, go to Publishing Tools > Video Library to see if your video is there or if it is still being processed. Come back later to auto-add captions if it’s still processing.

    Lastly, Facebook’s caption auto-generator will automatically generate the captions once you click Generate, but you should review them before saving them to your video, to be sure the auto-generator generated the correct captions.

    If you play the video, Facebook’s suggested captions will appear. In the popup window, you can edit any of the captions on the right side. Click on the text you want to edit in the caption you want to edit and scroll down to find it.


    Do It Yourself

    The first thing you need to do is watch your video and transcribe the audio. Logging spoken words in your video is just one part of this task, but you also need to note other important audio cues in the video. Transcribing a video by yourself is not an easy task. There are transcription services that can help you.

    It is crucial to pay attention to timing for closed captions and subtitles. Having subtitles that do not line up with the speakers will confuse your audience, so it’s important to save time codes. Prior to moving on to the next step, make sure your transcriptions are as accurate as possible.

    Make an .SRT File. Then save the file as a .SRT. This is the most universal file type for subtitles. Additionally, Facebook and LinkedIn only accept this format when publishing videos.

    Lastly, upload your web video file along with the .srt file to the platform of your choice. Before you publish your video, most sites will allow you to check the subtitles to confirm that they are shown at the right time in the video. Be sure to confirm the accuracy to ensure that your long form or short video reaches the largest audience possible.

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