Beginner's Guide to Captioning

person on screen

This ebook serves as your comprehensive beginner's guide to closed captions – what they are, how to create and upload them, and legal captioning requirements based on industry – to help you create accessible and engaging video content.

Topics include: 

  • Defining captions, subtitles, & transcripts
  • DIY captions with YouTube
  • Industry standards & best practices
  • Benefits of closed captioning
  • Recent captioning laws & lawsuits
  • How to publish captions on videos 

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    What are captions?

    Captions are text that has been time-synchronized with the audio track and appear on-screen while a video is playing. Captions can be open or closed: closed captions aren't visible until activated by the viewer, while open captions are hard-coded into the video and visible to all viewers.

    The French Chef with Julia Child was the first show to air with open captions in 1972. By the 1980s, captions were mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for all broadcast television in the U.S. The purpose of captions is to display dialogue and describe relevant non-speech elements (like sound effects and speaker identifications) that are necessary to a viewer's understanding – especially if the viewer cannot hear the audio.

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