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What is an SRT File & How to Create One to Boost Your Content

What is an SRT file, and how can you use an SRT file format to easily boost your content reach? Here’s what you need to know!
Ortal Hadad
Content Specialist & Blog Editor
Last Updated:
December 26, 2023
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

As video content becomes an increasingly important part of the way we communicate online, captions and SRT files are worth learning about.

Using SRT files, you can easily add clear and cohesive subtitles to video and audio content. This can help to improve the effectiveness of your communication, as well as increase accessibility. In many ways, SRT files can support your overall growth and content development!

For many content creators, the prospect of creating SRT files may seem overwhelming. What are these files, and how do you navigate the technology needed to create them? Where should you even get started? These are valid concerns. Fortunately, there are easy ways to produce quality SRT files, allowing you to incorporate SRT as part of your content strategy, even if you’re new to SRT tech. 

Ready to get started with SRT files but feeling unsure of where to begin? Here’s everything you need to know!

What is an SRT file?

An SRT file is a plain-text file type containing important subtitle information. Separate from the audio or video content it is designed to accompany, an SRT file includes subtitle text as well as relevant time codes and subtitle sequences. These control when subtitles are displayed on screen. 

A well-formatted SRT file makes it easy to apply subtitles to content, keeping in time with video and audio information and ensuring a seamless viewing or listening experience. The more attention to detail you give to your SRT file, the more effectively your subtitles will serve your audience’s needs. 

What does SRT mean?

SRT stands for SubRip Subtitle, with “subrip” being a play on the word “subscript.” This abbreviation is a clear stand-in for the purpose an SRT file serves. SRT files are designed to add subscript subtitles to visual or auditory media, allowing audiences to read along as they listen to content. 

What are SRT files used for?

There are many instances in which an SRT file can be a useful addition to your content strategy. In fact, SRT subtitles are becoming more and more popular as video media continues to grow across major social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok.

SRT files are compatible with a range of video and audio formats. You can use an SRT file to apply subtitles to these content types, allowing your viewers or listeners to read information in real time as it occurs on screen or in a sound track. 

Whether you’re producing a movie, a YouTube video, or something else, SRT files are a great resource. You can use SRT to maximize your engagement rates and reach broader audiences across a variety of channels and platforms. 

Have you recently watched a social media clip or even a blockbuster film with subtitles on? Chances are that those subtitles were produced and aligned using an SRT file!

Why should you use SRT files to boost your content?

Adding subtitles to your video and audio content offers many advantages, helping you boost your reach and content quality. In fact, a Verizon Media and Publicis Media study shows that captioned videos can help you retain 80% more viewers to watch till the end! On Facebook, research reveals that captioned ads promote 12% longer viewing times than uncaptioned versions.

SRT files allow you to improve the accessibility of your content, making it easier for broader audiences to engage. Subtitles can help audiences understand what’s going on in a piece of media when it cannot be heard. This makes subtitles an important tool for people who are unable to listen to contain or who experience hearing impairment. 

Subtitles are also used for other purposes. For instance, subtitles might be used to support viewers or listeners engaging with content in a foreign language. You might even add subtitles to clarify something said in a quiet voice or a heavy accent. 

In some cases, subtitles can also be used to support algorithmic success, helping your content reach new people online. On many digital platforms, SRT information is used as metadata, informing the categorization and distribution of your content. This helps popular social media sites to understand your content and its themes, allowing the algorithm to target the most relevant, interested users online. You can even use captions to incorporate SEO keywords that improve your discoverability in online search engines!

By applying subtitles to your work, you’re diversifying your communication strategy, which is an essential part of pursuing your goals and achieving your full potential. When you work to produce high-quality content, you want to give it as many chances as possible of succeeding. Using SRT subtitles can support your professional growth, all while building your reputation as an inclusive content creator. There’s no downside to offering audiences new ways to access and understand your message! 

How to open an SRT file

Opening an SRT file is easy on a desktop device, regardless of whether you’re using a Windows or Mac operating system. When you open your SRT file, you can review and even edit text before applying subtitles. Follow these steps!

Step 1: First, download the SRT file to your desktop. 

Step 2: Right-click the SRT file, and choose open with from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Choose your preferred word processor. WordPad and Notepad are the best options.

Step 4: Open the file, and you’ll see a list of time codes accompanied by associated text information. 

How to make an SRT file

There are several ways to create an SRT file. Some rely on software systems, while others take a manual approach. It’s a good idea to develop your understanding and learn a few different file creation methods. This way, you’ll always be prepared with the skills you need. 

How to create an SRT file manually

If you need to create an SRT file manually, don’t panic! The manual process is easy when you know the basics and can even provide you with extra control over the content of your file. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Open your chosen text editor. The best options are WordPad, Notepad, and TextEdit. 

Step 2: Order each line of your subtitles, starting with 1. 

Step 3: Insert the time code when your subtitle text should begin using the format hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds. Follow this with the code -->

Creating an SRT file manually on a text editor

Step 4: Do the same for the time when subtitle text should end. 

Step 5: Below your start and end time codes, insert your line of subtitle text. 

Step 6: Repeat until all subtitles are complete. 

Step 7: Save the file to your computer. 

How to convert audio to SRT files with transcription software

If you don’t want to create your SRT files manually, you also have the option to use a digital software system. You can use transcription software to convert audio to SRT automatically, skipping the more complicated aspects of manual file creation. This will also save you hours of time!

Just make sure that the software you use offers SRT formatted transcripts and not just TXT ones.

Follow these steps to convert audio to an SRT with transcription software:

Step 1: Open your chosen transcription tool, and upload your audio files. 

Step 2: Adjust settings if necessary and then wait for transcriptions to be generated. 

Step 3: Use your software’s text editor to edit your transcript and correct any errors. (Or edit your SRT file in in your own text software after exporting).

Step 4: Choose to export your transcription in an SRT file format to download to your device. 

How to export SRT files from Riverside

Riverside offers in-built transcription tools, which also allow you to export SRT files directly from your capture content. 

To create SRT subtitles using Riverside’s studio-quality recording and editing software, follow these steps:

Step 1: First, record and finalize content in the Riverside recording studio. You can learn how here.

Step 2: Go to the recording you'd like to transcribe.

Step 3: You should see a preview of your recording transcript. This sometimes can take a few minutes to appear.

Step 4: Under the preview select Download Transcript.

Step 5: Select the Subtitle file format and download

Sign up to start transcribing automatically after recording. You can also try our free transcription tool.

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How to add an SRT file to a video

Once your SRT file is ready and finalized, you’ll need to combine it with your video or audio content. You can add SRT subtitles to a video file easily using a Mac or Windows device. Follow these steps. 

Step 1: First, copy your SRT file to the same video library folder that stores your video file. 

Step 2: Next, rename your SRT file to match the title of your video file. 

Step 3: Open your video file, and choose subtitles, then select your chosen subtitle track to ensure changes are applied.

Some video sharing platforms allow you to easily upload SRT subtitles. YouTube is a great example. To add captions to your YouTube video, follow these steps. 

Step 1: Visit YouTube, and select your profile picture. Use the dropdown menu to sign in to the YouTube studio

Step 2: Select ‘Subtitles; from the left-side menu. 

Step 3: Choose the video you want to edit. 

Step 4: Choose add language, and select your chosen language. 

Step 5: Under subtitles, select add

Step 6: Select upload file

Step 7: Choose to add with timing, and select continue

Step 8: Upload the relevant SRT file, and click save.

FAQs on SRT files

Are you still unsure about the world of SRT files? Here are our answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions we receive about SRT file technology. 

What is a SRT file, and how do I open it?

An SRT file is a plain-text subtitle file that allows you to easily add subtitles to video and audio content. You can open an SRT file by right-clicking the file on your desktop, then choosing open with, followed by your chosen word processor. Text-only systems, like WordPad and Notepad, are usually the best options. 

How do I play SRT files?

SRT files contain only raw text and time codes, which means that they don’t play unless combined with a video or audio track. To play an SRT file, you’ll need to add it to your video or audio file. When you do this, subtitles will be extracted from your SRT file and displayed on screen, using time codes to align text information with audio content. 

How do I use SRT files with VLC?

You can easily use SRT files with the VLC player. All you need to do is download your complete SRT file, then launch VLC. Use VLC to open your video file, then click subtitles. Next, select add subtitle file, and upload your SRT file. This will combine your SRT subtitles with video or audio files. Easy!

How do I use SRT files with MP4?

You can also use SRT files with MP4. To do this, you’ll need to use a software tool that allows you to upload SRT content to combine with MP4 content. There are several options available for free online. All you’ll need to do is upload your chosen MP4 file, then add your SRT file as a subtitle track. 

How do I edit SRT subtitles?

If you want to make changes to your subtitles before adding them to video or audio content, you can do this easily using your computer’s word processor. Simply open your SRT file using a word processor, preferable WordPad, Notepad, or similar. Then use your computer’s keyboard to type any necessary changes. Don’t forget to save your work regularly!

Are SRT files the only option for closed captions?

SRT files are one of the most popular and broadly applicable options for producing closed captions. However, there are other options as well. Common alternative formats include Scenarist (.scc), Time Text (.ttml), and Transcript (.txt) files. There are even alternative versions of SRT files themselves, such as the Facebook-ready SubRip, which is designed specifically to add subtitles to Facebook videos.

If you want to create better video and audio content, Riverside is the perfect place to get started! Try out the Riverside studio today, and turn your content into something great. 

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