Captioning or Subtitling?

By: Speechpad Team


Captioning is transcribing the dialogue and audio events that take place off-screen in a text format. Audio events include laughter, a dog barking, the ringing of a doorbell, music, etc. There are two types of captions. The first type of caption is the open caption. The second type is the closed caption, which is the most common type of caption.

The difference between open captions and closed captions is that open captions are always on-screen and cannot be turned off; while closed captions can be turned on and off. Generally, either type of caption appears in the video format in white text with a dark background.

Captions were initially created for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, other uses include non-native speakers who use the captions as a tool to learn to read, write and speak the language shown in the video. Captions are also used in loud environments where the audio cannot be heard clearly, such as in a sports bar.

The transcription of the captioning is very labor-intensive because it involves accurately converting the dialogue and the off-screen audio events of the video into a text format. Therefore, it is important to retain the services of a professional company like Speechpad with specialized equipment and training, to ensure the captions of your video properly reflect the events taking place in your video.

Last, but not least, one of the most important aspects of either type of captioning is that it makes your video accessible to a much greater audience. By not captioning your video, you could be missing out on a huge potential market share.


Subtitling is written text appearing on a video format. Subtitles are based on a transcription of the dialogue in the video. Subtitles are generally targeted toward individuals who are not hard of hearing or deaf. For the most part, unlike captions, subtitles only contain the spoken dialogue of the video and do not contain audio events that take place off-screen. Also, unlike captions which appear white text with a dark background, the subtitles have different appearances, such as having more colors and fonts.

Subtitling is also very labor-intensive because the transcription used to create the subtitles must also precisely reflect the dialogue of your video. This is especially true when the quality of the dialogue in your video is garbled, mumbled or not easily understood. Professional companies like Speechpad use special equipment and trained professional transcribers to filter out background noises and/or filter programs in order to create a transcription that reflects the actual dialogue in your video.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether to use captions or subtitles in your video. The best way to determine whether your video should have captions or subtitles is to consult with the professionals at Speechpad who can provide you with their professional opinion, based on their many years of experience, and in-depth knowledge of the market demands of your specific video project.