The Difference Between Captions and Subtitles

The Difference Between Captions and Subtitles

Nowadays, with the prevalence of online video content, most people tend to use the terms “captions” and “subtitles” interchangeably, thinking that they both refer to the same thing. That’s understandable! After all, they’re both just text overlaid on the video, right? 

Well, the answer to that is both yes, and no! In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at the key differences between captions and subtitles! 



The concept of captions appeared at the beginning of the 1970s. Their purpose is to make TV, movies and online media more accessible for people that are hearing disabled. That means that captions don’t just capture the dialogue in a movie. 

They also keep track of who says the lines and offer a written description of any non-dialogue audio cue. For example, if a gunshot can be heard off-screen, the captions will include that. Captions are also in charge of describing the music in a given video, so if the soundtrack is supposed to make the viewer feel uneasy, you might have a caption that says “ominous music starts playing”.


Why are they called “closed captions”? 

Oftentimes, when watching videos online, either on YouTube or on streaming services like Netflix, you’ll notice that the symbol used to refer to captions is CC. 

The general Closed Captions symbol

The CC stands for Closed Captions. Yes, this means that there is also such a thing as Open Captions. 

Open Captions are “baked into” the video you’re watching. They’re simply part of it, you can’t edit them separately after the fact and you can’t get rid of them in any way (except by cropping the video). 

Closed Captions are more common around the web. They can be turned on or off and often come in multiple languages so you can choose the one you’re most familiar with. 


Adding captions to your videos

Our online captions maker lets you create both closed and open captions, depending on your preferences. All you need to do is go to Text and click Add Subtitle and then start typing in your captions.

Synchronizing them with your video is as easy as dragging them around on the Timeline, so the process is intuitive enough for anyone to be able to do it! 

Once you’re done writing your captions, you can choose to leave them on the screen and press Export. This way, your video will have Open Captions, which will always show up on the screen without your viewers having an option to turn them on or off. This can be great for platforms that don’t offer the ability to add Closed Captions to clips. 

If you want to use your newly written captions as Closed Captions instead, just click the Download Subtitle button and your captions will be saved to your computer as a different file which you can then upload to the video sharing platform of your choice along with your video. 



Subtitles are more limited in scope than Captions. While captions are designed to help the viewer understand all of the essential audio in a video, subtitles are only there to help translate the dialogue to a language that the viewer can understand. 

So, for example, if you’re watching a French film at home but you don’t speak French, you’ll turn on the English subtitles to be able to understand the dialogue. Note that the subtitles don’t include descriptions of any other sounds in the movie. They won’t mention the music or attempt to capture ambient sounds or sound cues. They’re only there to translate the dialogue for people who don’t speak the language that the movie was recorded in. 


Adding subtitles to your videos

Adding subtitles to videos is obviously a lot easier to do than adding captions. You can open your video up with Flixier and click on Add Subtitles to type them in and synchronize them manually, or if your video is in English, you can let us do the heavy work for you by using the Generate Subtitles option. 

This will automatically generate subtitles for your video in a matter of seconds! After the subtitles are generated, you can edit them manually to make sure everything is right, as well as customize their placement, font, size and color. 

You can also download these automatically generated subtitle files to your computer with the click of a button, so you can upload them separately along with your video whenever you choose to publish it. 

So, what are you waiting for? 

Sign up for a free Flixier account and start creating Captions and Subtitles for your videos right now!

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