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If you want to reach more people or improve accessibility, here's how to add captions to a video. Plus, discover an automatic dubbing tool.

Closed captions are an essential component of video content that can help your content reach a wider audience. By providing a text-based representation of the audio content in your videos, closed captions enhance accessibility, particularly for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, they can assist non-native speakers and anyone watching in a noisy or sound-sensitive environment.

Here's everything you need to know about closed captions and subtitles, why they're important, and how to add them to your videos.

Are closed captions and subtitles the same thing?

Closed captions and subtitles are both types of text that appear on screen during a video, but they serve different purposes and are used in different contexts.

Subtitles are a direct transcription or translation of the dialogue in a video. They are designed for viewers who can hear the audio but may not understand the language being spoken. For example, if you're watching a French film and you don't understand French, English subtitles would provide the translation of the dialogue so you can follow along.

Closed captions, on the other hand, are intended for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. They not only transcribe the dialogue but also include relevant non-speech elements such as sound effects, musical cues, and other important audio information that contributes to the overall understanding of the video. For instance, if a phone rings in a scene, closed captions would indicate that with a note like "[phone ringing]" or "[music playing]".

An important distinction is that closed captions can usually be turned on or off by the viewer, hence the term "closed," whereas subtitles are typically considered open captions and are always visible, unless specifically designed to be optional.

In summary, while both subtitles and closed captions provide text descriptions of audio content, they are designed for different audiences and include slightly different information. Yet, both are used somewhat interchangeably when it comes to adding video captions.

Why you should include video subtitles or closed captions

Including captions for your videos opens your content up to a larger audience, including those with hearing impairments and viewers who speak different languages. Furthermore, studies have shown that many viewers prefer watching videos with captions, even if they don't have any hearing issues. Captions also improve SEO, as search engines can index this text, making your content more discoverable. Therefore, it’s important to include subtitles and closed captions when you upload videos online.

Typing manually vs. automatic captions

When it comes to creating captions, there are two primary options: typing manually or using automatic captions. Manual transcription offers high accuracy, especially for videos with poor audio quality or speakers with strong accents. However, it can be time-consuming.

On the other hand, automatic captions, also known as auto-generate captions or speech to text, are generated using AI technology. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook have auto-sync features that automatically transcribe your video content. Though it may not be 100% accurate, it's typically faster and more convenient to autogenerate subtitles, then review them and make any necessary edits after.

How to add subtitles or captions to a video

Here's a step-by-step guide for beginners on adding subtitles using video editing tools, including social media, online video platforms, and video editing software:

YouTube videos

  1. Upload your video file to YouTube Studio.
  2. Navigate to the "Subtitles" section and select your video language.
  3. Choose "Add" under the "Subtitles" tab to create new caption tracks.
  4. You can opt to "Auto-generate," "Type manually," or "Upload a file."
  5. If you have a pre-made captions in SRT or VTT file format, choose "Upload a file" and select your caption file from your device.
  6. Make any necessary adjustments to the timestamps and text.
  7. Save changes.

Adobe Premiere Pro

  1. Import your video file and drag it to the timeline.
  2. In the "Graphics" workspace, open the "Essential Graphics" panel.
  3. Select "New Layer" and click on "Text" to create a new text box.
  4. Type your captions directly in the Program Monitor.
  5. Adjust the position and timing of your text to match the audio.
  6. Repeat these steps until you've covered the entire audio.


  1. Upload your video file to
  2. Click on the “Subtitles” tab, and select “Auto Transcribe.”
  3. Choose the video's language and let the software transcribe your video.
  4. You can manually correct any errors in the video transcription.
  5. Customize the style of your subtitles as needed.
  6. Click “Export” and select your desired video format to download the video with embedded subtitles.

iMovie (Mac and iPhone)

  1. Drag and drop your video into the timeline.
  2. Click on the "Titles" tab and select a caption template.
  3. Drag the title above the clip in the timeline.
  4. Double-click on the title text in the viewer and type your captions.
  5. Adjust the duration to sync with your audio.

TikTok videos

  1. Open the TikTok app and start creating a new video.
  2. After you filmed or uploaded your video, click on the “Text” button on the bottom.
  3. Write the text you want to use as a caption and press “Done.”
  4. Resize and position the text on the screen and set the duration to match the corresponding part of the video.
  5. Repeat these steps until you've added captions to the whole video.

Facebook videos

  1. Upload your video to Facebook.
  2. Once the video is uploaded, navigate to your video library.
  3. Click on the video you wish to caption, then click on “Subtitles & Captions(CC)” in the left panel.
  4. Choose “Upload SRT File” if you have a pre-made subtitle file, or “Auto-Generate” for Facebook to create automatic captions.
  5. If you select “Auto-Generate,” you'll have the option to review and edit the captions for accuracy before saving.

Translate audio into foreign languages with Speechify Dubbing Studio

If you want your video content to reach more people, you can add instant voiceover translations (known as dubbing) to your videos with Speechify Dubbing Studio. This platform can instantly translate audio files into many different languages in a variety of natural-sounding voices. In just a few clicks, you’ll have engaging video content to share with a wider audience than ever before.

Check out what you can do with Speechify Dubbing Studio.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.