If you've turned on a television, watched a foreign film, scrolled through FaceBook, or checked out a new YouTube video, you’ve undoubtedly come across closed captions or open captions.

But what exactly are captions?

And what is the difference between closed captions and open captions?

Knowing what captions are and the difference between closed captions and open captions is important knowledge for any video content creator. So today we are going to explore these differences and when to use them both.

What are captions?

Captions are the words you sometimes see scrolling along the bottom of a video screen. They provide a text version of all the audio content in a video. Captions include all spoken words and a text description of any audible sounds in the video such as laughter, applause or music. In addition to a transcription of the video’s audio, captions often indicate the names of speakers and note when speakers change.

Why should video content creators include captions?

In short, captions make video content more accessible to all viewers.

For individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing, captions are essential in order for them to understand the audio content of a video.

Captions are also helpful to individuals that want to consume video with the sound off.  As much as 85% of Facebook videos are consumed silently. Why? Because videos are often watched on public transportation, at work, or whilst sharing a room with someone else.

Without captions, video content creators are limiting their audience and are likely to have fewer views.

What is the difference between closed and open captions?

There is one simple difference between closed captions and open captions.

Open captions cannot be turned off by the user and are always visible on the screen. Whereas, closed captions can be turned off by the user.  

Closed Captions

Closed captions, or soft captions, are the preferred and most common captioning method as it leaves the viewer in control.

Most of today’s media players and social media sharing sites support closed captioning.

For example, at the bottom of each YouTube video you will see the CC symbol. If you click on this symbol, the uploaded subtitles or the automatically generated captions will be displayed.

YouTube offers closed captions for videos.

In most instances, video content creators should use closed captions as it gives the viewer the most choice and most viewers like to customize their viewing experience. If your video is solely going to be hosted on FaceBook or YouTube, then you should use closed captions.

Open Captions

Open captions are also known as burned-in, baked on, or hard-coded captions as they are seen by everyone that watches a video. There is no option for a viewer to turn off open captions.

Open captions are best used when a video is likely to be viewed in a public space: waiting rooms, bars and restaurants, or any space were loud noises will make it difficult to hear or the environment calls for silence. Open captions should also be used when you know that a large part of your viewing audience will be deaf or hard of hearing.

Open captions allow the video content creator to determine the font color and size of the captions before embedding them into a video.  This can be useful to ensure that the captions do not cover up important parts of a video. However, with open captions the user has no control over the size or appearance of the captions which may be a disadvantage to some users with visual impairments.  Therefore, it is advisable to adhere to the Web Accessibility Guidelines for captions to minimize any issues for viewers.

How to get captions for videos?

If you are looking to create captions for videos quickly and cost-effectively, then look no further than Happy Scribes Subtitle Generator. Happy Scribe’s Subtitle Generator is a cloud-based web-application that automatically generates captions for videos. Moreover, Happy Scribe’s Subtitle Generator can great captions for your video in more than 119 languages and accents.

Adding captions automatically to videos is easy with Happy Scribe’s Subtitle Generator:  

  • Simply import any video format into Happy Scribe
  • Generate and edit your captions to the last details directly on Happy Scribe.
  • Your captions are automatically synced to your video.
  • Export your captions in any generic format or video-software compatible format.
  • Import the edged captions file back on the video editor software.
Happy Scribe's Subtitle Generator can create closed or open captions quickly for any video.

Adding captions to videos is essential to increase viewership and to make your videos more accessible.  Whether you use closed captions or open captions, using an automatic transcription service provider like Happy Scribe ensures that your video gets accurate captions quickly and cost effectively in any language.