Why you should add captions to video

So, you’ve got some top-quality, thumb-stopping video content that needs sharing – great! But now what? How do you increase accessibility, boost audience understanding and reach a wider audience with your videos? Enter… captions!

illustration of a laptop as a screen with seats as the keyboard

Sookio's Production Assistant Imogen Lang writes:

Why are more and more people choosing to watch videos with captions on?

If you fancy getting to know a bit more, I’ve pulled together a beginner’s guide on:

  • the difference between subtitles and captions

  • why you should be using video captions, and

  • how to implement captions in your own marketing videos.

Know the lingo: video subtitles vs captioning

What is the difference between subtitles and captions?

Potato, potahto, captions and subtitles are the same thing, right? Er, not quite.

Although similar, captions and subtitles are not one in the same, and it’s important to know the difference between the two.

The key differences are:

  • Captions transcribe all dialogue and audio content as text on-screen.

  • They often include background noise, speaker differentiation, and anything else that enables the viewer to understand the video without sound.

  • Captions are primarily intended to accommodate viewers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. But as captioning becomes the norm, more people with unimpaired hearing are choosing to engage with videos with the sound off and captions on – especially when watching on a smartphone.

  • Captions come in two forms: open and closed captions.

    Just like an ill-thought-out tattoo, open captions don’t come off – they’re permanent fixtures on the screen.

    Closed captions [CC], on the other hand, can be turned on or off at will with the click of a button.

  • Subtitles, by contrast, are typically a translation of spoken dialogue. They’re most notably used for viewers who can hear the audio, but may not understand the language and who require text on screen to translate the audio.


Four key reasons to use video captioning

1. Accessibility on the go

When making video content, it’s imperative to think about your audience. Who is viewing it and how are they viewing it?

Unfortunately, not everyone has their own private cinema with a build-in surround system!

Not only are captions critical for audiences with impaired hearing, but they’re also being used by a large portion of the wider audience. As more of us consume video content on the move, it can be hard to watch videos with the sound on. As such, audiences rely on captions to allow them to engage with the video silently. No one wants their phones accidentally blaring out their friend’s Instagram reels while they’re sitting on a quiet train!

So utilising captions is crucial to ensuring your audience’s willingness to engage with your video content wherever they are.


Read more on the Sookio blog.

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