Beginner's Guide to Captioning


This White Paper is designed to serve as your comprehensive beginner's guide to all things captioning to help you easily create accessible and engaging video content.

Topics include: 

  • What are captions?
  • Standards & requirements for captioning
  • Captioning laws & lawsuits
  • Benefits of captioning
  • What is the cost of captioning?
  • How to add captions to videos

    Simply fill out the form on the right to download the free white paper!


    What are captions?

    Captions are text that has been time-synchronized with the audio track and appear on-screen while the video plays. They originated in the 1980s as an FCC mandate for broadcast television in the US. Captions display dialogue and describe relevant non-speech elements like sound effects and speaker identification that are necessary to the viewer’s understanding of the video – especially if the viewer cannot hear the audio.

    Captions vs. Subtitles vs. Transcripts

    Captions assume the viewer can't hear and display words in the same language that is spoken in the video. Subtitles assume the viewer can't understand the language and display a translation of the spoken words and exclude non-speech sounds. Transcripts are merely the text version of the audio and are not time-synchronized with the video but are the first step to creating captions. In some countries, like the UK, the word “subtitles” is used for both captions and subtitles as described here.

    How Do You Create Captions?

    DIY Method: YouTube

    The best way to create captions yourself is with YouTube’s caption editing interface. YouTube uses automatic speech recognition to transcribe the audio of videos you upload. Since they’re computer generated, they will only be around 60-70% accurate, but can save you a lot of time by generating a rough draft of the transcript. You can then edit these autocaptions in the Creator Studio and add or correct punctuation, misspelled words, timings, and other errors to make proper, accurate captions. Finally, you can download the captions for use elsewhere when you’re done.

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