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How to Add Captions to a Video (Free & Automatically)

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How to Add Captions to a Video (Free & Automatically)

Do you want to make your video content accessible to a larger audience? Captions help expand your audience and make your podcast, vlog, or other video content more accessible. Many social sites have moved to make adding captions and subtitles easy and some even use AI technology to automatically add them to your videos. We’ll explain how to add captions to a video and the advantages of adding them to your video content.

What Is a Subtitle?

Subtitles translate video content into an alternate language to make it available to a wider audience. Social platforms like Facebook and YouTube are accessible from all over the globe and subtitles allow viewers to understand and enjoy more content no matter their native language. Subtitles display the audio of a video in written form on-screen in the language of your choice. 

What Does Captioning Mean?

Captioning involves adding on-screen text to a video or broadcast to communicate what’s said. Social platforms are adapting to the trend of people experiencing content on mobile devices where they can’t always use their sound. This has resulted in sites like YouTube and Facebook adding auto-captioning features and using open captioning for some video content. We’ll explain the difference between open and closed captioning and explore the benefits of adding captions to a video. 

Open Caption vs. Closed Caption

Captioning can be classified in two ways: open and closed. Both types of captioning provide viewers with on-screen text that displays the messaging of your video’s audio. The way they display captions is what makes them different. Open captions are always visible and can’t be turned off, while closed captions can be toggled on and off by viewers.   

Five Advantages of Adding Captions and Subtitles to a Video

With so much competition in the online video creation space, it’s important to explore new ways to keep your content competitive. Adding captions to your video content will help it reach more people and has many benefits. Below are five of the top benefits of captioning your videos.

  1. Increase Your SEO - Captions and transcripts help your video’s SEO score and make it rank higher on Google. Search engines crawl for text, not video content, so having a text version of your video content will significantly increase its performance. 
  2. Make Content More Accessible - Making your content more accessible is not only the right thing to do, it can also expand your audience. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing will be able to experience your content when you add captions. 
  3. Improve User Experience - Adding captions to your videos will let users enjoy your content even if they can’t use the sound on their device.
  4. Make Content International - You can reach a larger international audience by adding captions to your videos. Non-native English speakers will be able to follow along with your video easier if they have captions to reference. 
  5. Increase Watch Time - Captions will grab viewers' attention and make it more likely they’ll watch your video for longer. This will increase your video average watch time, which is important if you want to monetize your content. 

Difference Between Subtitles and Captions

Many times the words “subtitle” and “caption” are used interchangeably, but their goals are different. While both of them involve displaying on-screen text, captioning is aimed to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing while subtitles aim to make content more accessible to non-native English speakers. Captions display text that’s spoken in the video while subtitles display what’s said in a video in a different language.  

How to Add Captions to a Video

Many social media sites will let you add closed captioning to a video because it makes content more accessible to more people. There’s a different process for each platform, and it’s much easier to add closed captioning on some sites than it is on others. We’ll explain what SubRip files are and why they’re important for adding closed captioning to a video and provide instructions for how to add captions to videos on major social sites. 

What is a SubRip File?

A SubRip file, or SRT file, contains all the subtitle information for a video in plain-text format. The SRT file acts as a guide that indicates when a caption should appear and what it should say. Most social media platforms use SRT files to caption videos. Some platforms create the file for you while others require you to create the file yourself and upload it along with your video.  

Using Software to Transcribe Your Video Content for Captions

Besides online transcription softwrae, some video recoridng platforms have transcription features to help you create captions for your videos much faster. For example, Riverside.fm is a content creation platform that includes a transcription feature. 

How to add captions to videos with Riverside:

Step 1: After recording a video on Riverside, select the take you want to create captions for in the Studio Recordings dashboard.

Step 2: Click the More Options (. . .) icon at the top of the page, next to the title of your recording files.

Step 3: Select Generate Transcription. After a few moments, your transcription will be created.

Step 4: Download your captions as an SRT or TXT file.   

How to Add Closed Captioning to a Video on YouTube

You don’t have to worry about typing out a SubRip file for YouTube because the site automatically creates one when you upload a video. Be aware that this auto feature isn’t always 100% accurate, so you should always double-check your captions after turning them on. YouTube’s AI can make mistakes if your video has poor audio quality, there’s a lot of background noise, or if speakers in your video have accents. 

You can review and make edits to auto-generated captions on YouTube by following these steps:

Step 1: Navigate to the video you uploaded.

Step 2: Click Edit Video

Step 3: Choose Subtitles from the navigation bar on the left. 

Subtitles Tab in the YouTube Editor Navigation bar.

Step 4: Review the captions generated by YouTube and compare them to your video.

Step 5: Click Duplicate and Edit and make any necessary corrections. 

Adding captions and subtitles to videos using YouTube's editor.

Even if the content of your captions is correct, the timing might be off. You can adjust the timing of your captions by clicking Edit Timings. This will allow you to edit the timing for when your captions appear. To go back to the text alone, press Edit As Text.

Editing the timings of captions that are added to a YouTube video.

Step 6: Select Publish when you are done correcting your captions. 

To add captions manually using a file you’ve already created, follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to the video you want to edit.

Step 2: Click Edit Video.

Step 3: Choose Subtitles from the navigation bar on the left. 

Step 4: Under the Subtitles heading on the right of the screen, click Add

Step 5: Choose Upload file in the popup window. 

The Upload file option for manually adding your own captions to a video on YouTube.

Step 6: Select With timing and click Continue.

Step 7: Choose the SRT file you want to upload. 

Step 8: Click Publish

How to Add Captions to a Video on Facebook

Facebook also uses AI to automatically generate captions after you upload a video, but only if you have a Facebook Page for a business or organization. If you’re uploading a video to your personal account, you’ll have to create a SubRip file and upload it yourself. 

When you upload a video to a Facebook Page page, you can review and edit auto-generated captions or upload your own SRT file before publishing your content. After uploading a video, you can click on Subtitles and Captions on the right of your screen to edit the captions Facebook created or upload your own. 

Follow these steps to add captions to a video on a Facebook Page:

Step 1: Navigate to the News Feed and click Pages in the menu on the left.

Step 2: Select your Page.

Step 3: Select the Video option at the top of your Page timeline.

Step 4: Select Upload Video and choose the video you want to upload.

The Upload Video button on Facebook.

Step 5: After your video is uploaded, select Video Options and then Add Captions. You can choose if you want to use auto-generated captions or upload your own SRT file. 

Options for adding captions to a video on Facebook

Step 6: Select Next and then Publish to set your video live. 

Add captions to video on your personal page using these steps: 

Step 1: Navigate to the top of your Timeline or News Feed.

Step 2: Click Photo/Video

Step 3: Choose the video you want to upload and click on the Edit button at the top of your video.

Step 4: Select the Add Captions option and then Upload Captions to choose and upload the SRT file you’ve created.

The Add Captions button on Facebook for uploading your own subtitles to a personal Facebook video.

Step 5: Click Save

How to Add Subtitles to a Video

The process for adding subtitles is the same as adding captions using an SRT file. The major difference is you’ll have to translate your text into a different language before creating an SRT file. There are many free translation services online, but be aware that they don’t all produce the same quality of content. Some of the top-quality free online translators we recommend are Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and Linguee. 

How to Add Subtitles to a YouTube Video

YouTube’s auto-translate feature makes it easy for you to add subtitles to video without any additional translation services. Follow the steps below to quickly and easily add subtitles to a YouTube video. 

Step 1: Log in to YouTube Studio.

Step 2: Select Subtitles from the navigation bar on the left. 

Step 3: Select the video you want to add subtitles to. 

Step 4: Choose Add Language and then select the subtitle language. 

Step 5: Click Add under Subtitles. 

How to Add Subtitles to a Video Automatically 

Many platforms will automatically translate your content for you so that it’s more accessible to their global audiences. In this case, you don’t have to worry about creating or uploading an SRT file in another language. However, not all platforms provide auto-generated subtitles, so you can’t always add subtitles to video automatically. 

Conclusion

Most social platforms have features that make it easy to add subtitles and captions on their sites. When you add captions or subtitles to videos, you expand your audience and increase the reach of your content by improving its SEO. Make sure you know what SubRip files are and how they work to make adding captions and subtitles as easy as possible. 

Adding Video Subtitles and Captions FAQs

Do you still have questions about adding subtitles and captions to your video content? Our FAQ section has answers for some of the most commonly asked questions about video captions and subtitles. Keep reading to learn more about captioning video content. 

How Can I Add Captions to a Video for Free

You can add captions to a video for free on most video-sharing platforms. Some sites use AI technology to auto-generate captions for video content and others require you to upload a text file called a SubRip, or SRT, file. You can create an SRT file in any word processing program for upload. See the sections in the above article about SRT files and adding them to social sharing sites. 

How Can I Add Subtitles to Video Without Any Software

Some social sharing sites like YouTube will automatically provide subtitles for videos. However, if you need to add them yourself, you can do so by typing them out and then uploading them alongside your video. You can do all of this without downloading any type of software. However, if you need help translating the text in your video, you’ll have to use additional software or a translation service. 

How to Add Subtitles to a Video Permanently

You have to use video editing software to hardcode subtitles into your video file to permanently add subtitles. The below section explores how to do this to add captions permanently using VLC.  

How to Add Subtitles to a Video in VLC

There are two ways to add videos in VLC. The first way lets you add them so that they’re only visible within the VLC program. The second way hardcodes them into the video file so that they will display no matter where you play or upload your video file. We’ll provide step-by-step instructions for how to add them in the second, more permanent way. 

Step 1: Open VLC player.

Step 2: Select Media from the upper left corner of the screen and choose Stream from the dropdown menu. 

Step 3: In the pop-up window, click the + Add button and select the video file on your computer. 

Step 4: Click the Use a subtitle field in the popup window. 

Step 5: Click browse and select the SRT file from your system. 

Step 6: Click Stream and then Next

Step 7: In the Stream Output window, choose File from the dropdown and then click the Add button. 

Step 8: In the pop-up window, click Browse and create a name for your video. Be sure your file name ends with the file format type you prefer. 

Step 9: Choose the folder where you want to save your video and click Save and then Next.

Step 10: Check the Activate Transcoding box and then click the Wrench icon.

Step 11: Navigate to the Subtitles tab and check the Subtitles and Overlay subtitles on the video boxes. 

Step 12: Click Save and then Next

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