How Do I Add Captions to My Videos?

September 12, 2022 BY KELLY MAHONEY
Updated: June 8, 2023

Closed Captioning 101 [Free eBook]

So you just created a new video, but how do you add captions? Better yet, why should you add captions? In the United States, some accessibility-related legislation — like the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – make stipulations for the requirement of closed captioning for online content. While this is often a primary motivator at most organizations, it’s also important to bear in mind the multitude of benefits that become available when you create accessible content, including search engine optimization (SEO), improved viewer comprehension, and better brand recall.

When it comes to captioning, the variety of formats and technical information available can be overwhelming. That’s what we’re here for! In this blog, we’ll break down the three main ways to associate a caption file with video content, as well as review some of the required caption formats for popular video players/platforms and lecture capture software.

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Upload as a “Side Car” File

The most common way to add captions to your videos is as a “side car” file. Most web video players and platforms allow you to upload a caption file in their specified format along with your video file. Captions will sync with your video. Users can turn captions on and off by clicking a “CC” button and can often change the visual formatting of the captions directly on the video player.
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Add Open Captions

If you want to play your video offline or never want captions turned off, you can burn the captions directly onto the video file to create open captions. In this case, users can’t turn captions off – they are a part of the video file.
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Encode Your Captions

The third way to associate a caption file with your video is to encode the captions. This is often necessary for offline viewing, for kiosks, or if you don’t have a video platform. You can also distribute caption-encoded videos as a single asset. Users will still be able to turn the captions on or off, and the captions should work across mobile devices.

 Captioning Basics: A Free Guide 📝 

What Caption Format Do I Need?

It is critical that you use the correct caption format for your video player, video platform, or lecture capture system. While some caption formats are easier to create from scratch (for example, SRT and WebVTT), many formats use hex codes and are extremely difficult to create from scratch. We recommend using a professional captioning service or a caption format converter for these.

Below, you’ll find a list of major video players, video platforms, and lecture capture systems and the caption format that each requires. For most popular platforms, integrations are available to automate the caption post-back process so this step becomes trivial. How-to guides are also available for most systems below.

Video Player/Platform/Lecture Capture System Caption format required: Integration available?
Adobe Captivate Stamped Doc
Adobe Connect Recordings Encoded Captions
Adobe Encore SCC
Adobe Flash DFXP
Adobe Premiere Pro SCC
Adobe Presenter TXT
Amazon Direct SMPTE-TT (RP-2052) or EBU-TT with an .xml file extension
STL with a .stl file extension
DFXP Full/TTML with a .dfxp file extension
Apple Compressor SCC
Articulate Storyline Stamped Doc
Avid Media Composer Avid DS
Blackboard Collaborate Encoded Captions
Brightcove Custom DFXP Yes
Camtasia SRT
Canvas SRT
Cattura SRT Yes
Desire2Learn SRT
DVD Studio Pro SCC
Echo360 XML Yes
Echo360 Active Learning Platform WebVTT
Ensemble Video DFXP Yes
Facebook SRT Yes
Final Cut Pro 7 and X SCC
Flowplayer SRT Yes
GoToMeeting & GoToWebinar Recordings Encoded Captions
Hulu Custom SMPTE-TT
iTunes SCC
JW Player WebVTT Yes
Kaltura SRT Yes
Kaltura MediaSpace SRT
Knovio by KnowledgeVision JSON
Lectora PPT XML
Limelight DFXP Yes
Lync (Skype for Business) Encoded Captions
MediaPlatform WebVTT Yes
Mediasite SRT
Microsoft Stream WebVTT
Netflix Custom SMPTE-TT
Ooyala DFXP Yes
Panopto DFXP Yes
PowerPoint TTML
QuickTime QT
Slideshare SRT
Tegrity SRT Yes
thePlatform SCCSRTWebVTT Yes
Video.js WebVTT
VidYard SRT
Vimeo WebVTT Yes
Viostream SRT
VLC Player SRT
VoiceThread DFXP
WebEx Encoded Captions
Windows Media and Silverlight SRT
Wistia SRT Yes
YouTube SRT
Yuja Yes
Zoom Encoded Captions


CLOSED CAPTIONING 101, A brief overview of closed captioning, terms to know, and video accessibility laws. READ THE GUIDE

This blog was originally published by Lily Bond on January 12, 2017 and has since been updated for comprehensiveness, clarity, and accuracy.

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