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How to Add Closed Captions to a Video: 2 Easy Methods (2023)


How to Add Closed Captions to a Video: 2 Easy Methods (2023)

Adding captions to video content increases its accessibility and boosts your reach!

Fortunately, adding video captions doesn't have to be a challenge, and it doesn’t have to take hours. With the right tools and even basic video production skills, you can easily add subtitles to your video files, achieving clear and professional results.

Wondering where to get started with captioning your videos? Here's everything you need to know to take the first step.

What are closed captions?

Captions are a text version of the dialogue and audio of a video. Unlike subtitles, they include background noise, sound effects, and other audio besides just spoken word. 

You’ll find captions across many video and distribution channels, including television and social media. This text often appears at the bottom of a video, showing its transcript in real time. 

People use captions to make their videos more accessible. For example, some viewers may have difficulty hearing or understanding, whereas others prefer to watch content without sound. 

Closed captions, specifically, are captions you can toggle on or off on a video. But let’s dive deeper into how it differs from open captions.

Read more: What is Closed Captioning?: Best Practices, Formats & Guidelines

Closed captions vs. open captions

Closed captions and open captions are very similar, with only one key difference.

Closed captions are available at the viewer's discretion. This means you can turn on or off captions using closed caption settings depending on whether or not the viewer wants to see them.

Conversely, open captions are always on. Creators usually burn open captions on their videos with an editor, and viewers cannot turn them off.

Why should you use closed captions?

If you're creating video content, there are several reasons why you should consider using closed captions. Captions can offer a range of important benefits.

Increased accessibility

One of the key advantages of closed captioning is its capacity to improve accessibility.

For some viewers, sound-driven video content can be inaccessible and difficult to understand when interpretation relies on audio information. This is true for people with hearing difficulties, people who speak another language, or even people who simply prefer to keep sound off.

By including closed captions in your videos, you can invite all viewers to be a part of your content, expanding your audience.

Captions support greater accessibility and inclusion for your content.

Improves SEO and searchability

Using closed captioning can enhance your reach by boosting your search engine optimization (SEO). SEO practices help improve your content’s chances of ranking high on search platforms. In turn, this makes your content easier to find and discover. 

To explain, closed captions allow you to incorporate video metadata, including SEO keywords. When audiences search these keywords, it’s more likely your content will show up. The more you optimize, the better chance your videos have to climb to the top of search results on Google, YouTube, or other platforms.

How to add closed captioning to a video manually

If needed, you can add captions and subtitles to your video content manual. Follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Generate a transcript

First, you'll need to generate an accurate transcript for your video content. You can do this by manually transcribing audio information or using automatic captions with a tool like Riverside. This can help you obtain a written transcript quickly and easily.

Step 2: Save an SRT file

Next, save and export your captions as a TXT or SRT file. TXT files are text-only files, while SRT files are specifically for video use. Generally, SRT files are the best choice for fluid, reliable captions. If needed, you can open your SRT file and make changes, such as correcting errors or adding action and music tags to illustrate sounds.

Step 3: Combine video and subtitle files

Finally, it's time to combine your subtitles with your video! You can create open captions by burning the captions using an editing tool. Alternatively, you can create closed captions by simply uploading the two separate files to your chosen publishing platform.

You can also use a closed captioning service to do the work for you. Read our full list of the best closed captioning services.

How to add closed captions to a video automatically

Some tools allow you to access automatically generated captions with ease. Your options will depend on the files and platforms you're working with.

Closed captions for videos on social media

Adding closed captions to social media videos is easy! Steps will vary depending on your chosen social media site.

How to add closed captions on YouTube videos

Follow these steps to add subtitles to a YouTube video.

Step 1: Sign in to the YouTube Studio.

Step 2: Select Subtitles from the left menu, and choose the correct video file.

Step 3: Click Add Language to choose your language settings.

Step 4: Under subtitles, select Add.

Step 5: Either Upload a time-stamped SRT file, or manually type subtitles before using the Auto Sync feature.

Step 6: When subtitles are ready, publish your video.

How to add closed captions on Instagram

Instagram let's you burn and edit open captions onto your videos. If you want to edit and adjust closed captions for your own videos, there's no option for this yet. You can turn on closed captions for other videos you watch though.

Follow these steps to add subtitles to an Instagram video.

Step 1: Log in to your Instagram account.

Step 2: Navigate to your settings and select Account settings.

Step 5: Choose the Captions option and toggle your captions on.

Step 6: When you watch videos in your app now, you'll see automated closed captions appear.

How to add closed captions on TikTok

TikTok is the same as Instagram. You can only turn on closed captions for videos you watch.

Follow these steps to add subtitles to a TikTok video.

Step 1: Log in to your TikTok account.

Step 2: Navigate to your account and then go to Settings and Privacy.

Step 3: Select the Accessibility tab and then toggle on Captions.

Step 4: You'll now see automated closed captions when you watch videos.

How to add closed captioning to a video on Facebook

Follow these steps to add subtitles to a Facebook video.

Step 1: Navigate to the top of your timeline, and select Photo/Video in the post section.

Step 2: Upload your video file to Facebook.

Step 3: Select video options.

Step 4: Choose to add captions.

Step 5: Upload a final SRT file.

Step 6: Click post to publish your video content.

Closed captioning tools for videos

There are also several closed captioning software programs you can turn to. Explore these two options:

Premiere Pro

How to add closed captions to a video from Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is an advanced video production program with plenty of great tools and functionalities. This option is an excellent choice for more experienced creators who care about quality and want to make a real impact with professional video content.

How to add captions with Premiere Pro

Step 1: Open your project using Premiere Pro and import you video if you haven’t already.

Step 2: Place your video on the timeline and edit it as you’d like.

Step 3: Click on Window and select Text. A Text window should appear with three tabs.

Step 4: Select Transcript and then click on Transcribe sequence and a menu should pop up. 

Step 5: Using the menu popup, select your desired Language, and choose the audio tracks you want to transcribe.

Step 4: At the bottom of the popup box, select Transcribe, and wait for automatic transcription. 

Step 5: Go to the Captions tab and select Create captions from transcription. Choose your preset and preferences then click create captions.

Step 6: If you’d like to adjust the text you can use the transcript tab in your Text window to view and proofread your captions. 

Step 7: Click on the three dotted menu on the top right of the text window then select Export. You can choose what format you'd like but we'd suggest exporting your closed caption as an SRT.

You can also burn these captions into your video if you'd prefer open captions as well.


Creating closed captions for videos with Riverside

Although Riverside is a top-quality recording platform, it offers impressive automated video transcription. You can create accurate caption transcripts in over 100 languages immediately straight after recording. We offer SRT subtitle files with speaker differentiation to ensure you can create captions effortlessly.

Riverside’s high-quality recordings ensure you’ve got clear audio for more accurate transcriptions. That’s not to mention local recording and separate audio tracks that offer users better editing control!

If you’re looking for an easier way to edit, you can also use Riverside text-based video editor. You can use your AI transcriptions to edit your audio and video recordings as easily as going through a document. 

Learn more here, or start creating captioned videos seamlessly!

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How to add captions with Riverside

Step 1: Log in to your Riverside dashboard and, if you haven’t recorded yet, create a new studio or select an existing one. Enter the studio, invite guests if you’d like, and start recording (You can learn how here). 

After ending the recording Riverside will redirect you to your recording files. 

Step 3: In your studio dashboard, select the file you’d like to transcribe. You’ll see a preview of your recording transcript. 

Step 2: Under the preview, click Download Transcript. You can also preview your transcript if you wish, or use it to edit your video.

Downloading closed captions on Riverside

Step 3: Export and download your caption file as a Subtitles (SRT) or a transcript (TXT) file format. We suggest choosing SRT files as these are better for captions.

Step 4: Upload your captions and video content to your chosen publishing channel.

If you're not on a plan that includes transcriptions, you can try out our free transcription tool.

Read more: Best Free & Paid Closed Captioning Software for 2023

Tips on how to style and customize your video captions

When working with captions and subtitles, there are things that you can do to style and customize text in line with your brand style guide or chosen video aesthetic.

Adjust your settings

Depending on the tools and platforms you use, you may be able to adjust the font, color, and placement of your text. You might also be able to change how your captions respond to background noise and other audio interruptions.

Proofread your transcriptions

When creating captions or subtitles, it's a good idea to keep quality at the heart of your approach. Whether you rely on human transcription or automatic caption generation, it's important to revise and thoroughly proofread your caption files to ensure they are as accurate as possible before they go live.

Check that captions are clear

You should also check that your captions are visually clear and easy to see against the background of your video. Likewise, ensure that timing is working well with captions appearing to keep up with the video's audio track.

FAQs on how to add closed captioning to a video

Still trying to figure out the process of adding closed captions to video content? Here are our answers to a few frequently asked questions.

How do I add closed captions to my videos for free?

Many software tools offer a free option for adding captions or subtitles. This means that you can access tailor-made software applications that allow you to create and edit clear captions free of charge.

What is the easiest way to add captions to a video?

There are many ways to add captions or subtitles to your videos. Generally speaking, it is easiest to rely on automatic captions instead of manually typing your own video transcript. However, it's worth noting that you'll still need to review and revise an auto-caption file for quality and accuracy.

Can you automatically add subtitles to a video?

Many systems allow you to add captions to videos automatically! This makes captioning quick, easy, and more efficient than ever before. The process for automatically adding captions to videos will vary depending on the system you're working with. This is why it's a good idea to review the specific instructions your chosen software tool provides.

Is there a free auto-closed captioning app?

There are several apps that provide auto-closed captioning functionality, and many of these have both free and paid options available. Do your research, and review a few software options before selecting the best solution with your goals and needs.

What is the easiest way to add captions to a video?

The best, most effective way to caption videos is by using a well-designed video production software tool with intelligent captioning functionalities built into the system. For the best results, we recommend Riverside, where you can automatically generate highly accurate captions for even multiple video and audio tracks.

Want to start adding captions to your video content and benefitting from a reach and accessibility boost? Try Riverside's advanced transcription and subtitling tools today.

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