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How to Add Captions to Instagram Reels & Stories | Ultimate Guide

Learn how to easily add captions to your Instagram Reels and Stories with our ultimate guide. Improve your accessibility and engagement today!
Ortal Hadad
Content Specialist & Blog Editor
Last Updated:
May 2, 2023
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Captions are vital to any Instagram video strategy. Besides making your videos more accessible, captions can attract viewers and increase engagement. 

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to add captions or subtitles to an Instagram video, no matter if it’s a story or reel. Instagram has built-in captions, but you can also opt for alternative methods. 

So what is the best way to start captioning your Instagram videos? 

Our ultimate guide will walk you through a step-by-step on how to add captions to Instagram reels and stories. We’ll share a few methods and help you choose the ideal one! 

Why should you use captions on Instagram?

Using clear, comprehensive Instagram captions can be powerful. Well-crafted captions can improve the quality of your content and the way you engage your audience. For example, captions make your content more accessible to viewers. But there are many more benefits. 

Benefits of Instagram video captions

Here are just a few reasons why adding captions to Instagram videos is worth it:

Growing your audience with better accessibility

Captions play an integral role in making your content accessible! Including captions ensures that anyone scrolling through Instagram without sound can still understand your video. Captions also make it easier for people who are hard of hearing still enjoy your content. They can even help foreign speakers grasp the language of your video better. 

When you caption your Instagram videos, you can be confident that no one is missing out on what you say or the value you offer. 

Can possibly enhance SEO performance

Using captions for your Instagram videos can likely improve your rankings on search results. This can make it easier for users to find your content, ultimately boosting your reach.

Note that Instagram can’t read open captions you burn into your videos with an external editor. It’s more likely Instagram’s own auto-generated subtitles are readable for this purpose. And who knows, maybe soon, Instagram will allow users to upload their own closed captions, just like YouTube does. 

Either way, we suggest you incorporate keywords that relate to your niche as part of your video content. From an SEO point of view, this helps effectively categorize your content and show it to the right people. Adding these keywords to your Instagram videos' (caption) descriptions is also a good idea. 

Making your content stand out

Instagram captions can help your content stand out from the crowd. They can help you improve the professionalism of the videos you share, allowing you to stand out as a credible creator.

Increasing watch time

Using Instagram captions can even increase watch time for your videos. Research shows that video subtitles can increase social media watch time by 5%!

By working to increase your video watch time, you can give your content an algorithm boost and increase your engagement stats. This can help your videos reach more users. 

How to add captions to Instagram videos automatically

Instagram has it’s own built-in captioning tools. The benefit here is that you don’t need to use external software to generate captions. It’s also more likely Riverside can read these captions for SEO purposes, helping your grow your reach. 

To use Instagram’s built in captioning tools read on:

How to add captions to reels

Follow these steps to add captions to an Instagram reel using the app’s built-in captioning tool.

Step 1: Create your reel

First, you need to create your Instagram reel. Log in to your account, and select the + icon at the bottom of your screen. Use the sliding menu to select REEL

Either use the white record button to capture content or upload a video from your camera roll using the + photo icon at the bottom-left of your screen. When you’re ready, press Next

Step 2: Access the captions feature

On the next page, select the stickers icon at the top of your screen. The sticker icon is a square sticker with a smiley face.

How to add captions to Instagram reels

From the pop-up menu, select the CAPTIONS option. Wait for automatic transcriptions to finalize.

Step 3: Place and edit captions

When your automatic Instagram captions are ready, use the menu bar at the bottom of your screen to select a font and format style. 

Adding and editing captions on an Instagram reel

To edit captions or correct errors, tap on the caption group as it appears on screen. This will make the words in the caption group appear. Tap each word individually to bring up the keyboard and edit text as needed. When you’re happy with your captions, select Done

How to add captions to your Instagram stories

Adding captions to your Instagram stories is just as easy as creating them for reels! You can follow the same steps above, applying them to a filmed STORY instead of a REEL

You can create an Instagram story by selecting the + icon at the bottom of your screen and using the sliding menu to select STORY.

4 ways to add captions to Instagram videos

While Instagram’s built in tools are easy to access, other tools may provide greater accuracy and improved editing control.

There are several different ways to add captions to Instagram videos, here are 4 easy methods:

Instagram’s built-in subtitle generator

As we’ve mentioned above, your first option is to use Instagram’s built-in subtitle generator. This is a popular method, as it allows you to work using native tools to create your Instagram content from start to finish. While Instagram’s automatic captions can be prone to errors, they are easy to manually edit and correct if needed.

Key benefits:

  • All-in-one video creation, editing, captioning, and sharing functionality 
  • Generates captions quickly, analyzing audio in less than a minute
  • Instagram captions may offer additional benefits for the app algorithm

External captioning software

Riverside transcription

Riverside software for adding captions to videos such as reelsw

If you're looking to streamline your reels production from beginning to end, try Riverside. Not only does Riverside offer Ai transcription, but their AI Magic Clips repurposes one long-form recording into multiple short shareable reels. You don't need to do anything extra! Record in up to 4K video resolution, simply click on the Magic Clips button, then leave the rest to Ai. The tool identifies key moments in your recording and turns them into short-clips under 90 seconds. You can then use our text-based editor to easily adjust and customize your reel.

Our editor works with our Ai transcriptions so any text you remove in your transcript, removes the matching video and audio in your recording timeline. These transcriptions are available in over 100 languages and you can easily burn them into your reel as closed captions. You can polish your video and customize your captions, and background, then you're instagram reel ready!

While transcriptions are only available on some of our paid plans, you can try our transcriptions services for free with our transcription tool.

Key benefits:

  • Highly accurate captions available instantly after recording
  • Captions for videos which you can style and position as you like
  • Advanced AI transcription available for free in over 100 languages
  • Speaker detection and differentiation, providing clear speaker labelling     
  • Download your transcripts for open captions, or burn in captions straight into your reels
  • Magic Clips creator so you can repurpose your recordings into clips effortlessy
  • High-quality resolution with up to 4K video and 48kHz audio
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You can also choose an external captioning application, like MixCaptions. This is a good option, as it can allow for additional functionalities. For example, MixCaptions supports video subtitles in over 20 languages. You can even adjust the font, color, and position of completed captions.

Key benefits:

  • Extra text editing and layout adjustment tools available
  • Capacity to caption longer videos if content is needed beyond Instagram
  • Higher level of accuracy with captioning for over 20 languages

Manually typing out Instagram captions

If you’re unable to use an automatic transcription tool, you can also try creating captions manually, by typing out your own transcription.

This option is much slower than automatic captioning. However, it can give you complete control over your content, allowing you to write and edit captions exactly as you want them to appear. 

Hiring professionals to create Instagram captions

Alternatively, you can consider hiring a professional to create your Instagram captions for you. This is an uncommon pathway, as it can be costly and time-consuming, but it can help you access accurate, reliable subtitles. Transcription services you to connect with experienced transcribers to create manual captions for your content. Hiring a professional saves you time and provides great accuracy with less need for revision.

How to edit captions on Instagram

What if you notice an error in your Instagram captions?

Even if you have created captions using an automatic transcription tool, you can usually edit your captions to correct mistakes if needed. How you do this will depend on the captioning tool you’re using. 

On Instagram, you can edit captions simply by clicking on an entire caption group while your video remains in editing mode. This will pull up the full caption group and allow you to select a word and use the keyboard to replace it.

Similarly, if you notice a small error in your Riverside captions, you can use the Riverside text editor to make manual changes before exporting your completed files. 

It’s best to edit your subtitles before posting your video. If you’re using open captions, you won’t be able to make changes to your video once it’s live. 

Should you use closed or open captions on Instagram?

You can turn closed captions on or off, while open captions are always visible in your content. Generally, the best option on Instagram is to use open captions. This way, you can ensure that your captions are always present to boost accessibility, regardless of user settings. This means that you don’t have to worry about captions being unavailable for the people who need them most. 

How to turn on closed captions on Instagram reels

On Instagram, most caption options work as open captions, which helps them work efficiently without risking glitches or other issues. This means that captions will always be visible and viewers cannot turn them off. 

FAQs on how to add captions on Instagram

Still unsure about how best to add captions on Instagram? Here are our answers to a few frequently asked questions!

How do you add subtitles to Instagram?

Adding subtitles on Instagram is easy! All you need to do is find the right captioning tool. Many people use Instagram’s built in captioning and subtitle tools. Although, if you can’t access this or want better accuracy, you can also use another automatic transcription software, like Riverside.

Why can’t I add captions to Instagram story?

Having trouble adding captions to your Instagram story? First, make sure that transcribable audio is present in your video story. Then follow the instructions listed above to select the CAPTIONS option from the sticker menu. If you can’t find the option to add captions here, your account may be experiencing a glitch.

It’s also possible Instagram captions aren’t available in your location, or Instagram doesn’t support your language yet. 

Take a break, and try again later, or try an external captioning tool. 

What is the best caption app for Instagram?

There are plenty of great options for adding captions to Instagram videos! If you’d prefer to use an app outside of Instagram itself, we recommend trying Riverside, allowing you to access instant transcriptions in over 100 languages. With Riverside, you can access greater accuracy, better efficiency, and complete content control.

Ready to get started with captions for Instagram reels and stories? Begin your journey with Riverside today.

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