SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

Video Subtitling or Captioning?

[fa icon="calendar"] July 17, 2018 / by Niall Curran

Subtitling and captioning

What is the difference between subtitles and captions? Well they are almost the same. In essence, they are both text derived from the spoken audio or commentary in videos.

Subtitling is usually used as a way of translating voice to text for videos, films, etc. so people in other countries can understand the content. They are usually displayed at the bottom-center of the screen, although can be moved so as to not overlay text already present within the video, for example, a person’s name and business title.

Captioning (also called closed captions) is usually used as a service to aid deaf and hearing-impaired people and so we see this type of service requested more for medical related videos. This is the same as subtitling but sometimes includes descriptions of non-speech elements like music, sounds, etc.

Subtitles example

Captioning example

Wow!!! Thank You. 

[gasp] Wow!!! Thank You.

Here are a few considerations: 


First, the spoken audio needs to be transcribed from the video to create the subtitle text. Then the transcription needs to be QA’ed to ensure that everything has been typed correctly. Then this transcription is sent for transcreation and correction by clients, who add the final touches to the transcribed and translated script.


For most languages SimulTrans use sans serif fonts, for example Arial, as they are easier to read in video format than serif fonts, like for example Times New Roman.

However, if you prefer to use a specific font, you can provide the font information for the project.

Text wrapping

For subtitle text to be clearly legible, the font size needs to be at least size 60. Therefore, it’s recommended that a maximum of two lines is used for each subtitle.

Having three or more lines for any subtitle would result in a large portion of the video being used for subtitle text which is not attractive. 

Hard v. Soft subtitles

Hard subtitles are those where the subtitle has been irreversibly merged to the video. Soft subtitles are freely editable.

Soft subtitles are those where the subtitle is stored in an SRT (or similar) file. 

In order for the subtitle text to appear in the video, both the video and subtitle file need to have the same file and be stored in the same folder. 

Subtitle text example

Subtitling and captioning2.jpg





The screenshot above shows:

  • Start – when the subtitle is to appear
  • End – when the subtitle is to disappear
  • Style – The font style of the subtitle text (font, size, format, background, position on screen)
  • Text – The subtitle text

Based on the type of product and your target audience, whether you are going to localize videos as part of your overall website translation strategy or not, you might want to choose subtitling or captioning.

Which one do you need?

Our team offering subtitling in Dublin can help you!

Get our free case study to learn more about SimulTrans' transcription services.

Download  Free  Transcription Case Study

Topics: Website Translation

Niall Curran

Written by Niall Curran

With over 20 years in the localization industry, Niall has gained extensive expertise in Software, Documentation, and Multimedia localization. As part of the Engineering team in SimulTrans, Niall is involved in file analysis, production, and provides support to vendors and clients alike throughout the localization cycle.