Roll-Up vs. Pop-On Captions: What’s the Difference?

September 26, 2014 BY LILY BOND
Updated: June 3, 2019

What's the Difference Between Roll-Up and Pop-On Captions?

Roll-up and pop-on captions are the two main styles of line 21 closed captions. Even if you don’t know the difference by name, you’ve most likely seen examples of these two styles many times before. Here’s a run-down of the differences, and when you might expect to use each style:

Roll-Up Captions

Roll-up captions are always used for live television broadcasting. These are the captions that scroll up the screen, either from the bottom or the top, one line at a time. Usually, the captions scroll from the top and include two to three lines; the top line rolls off the screen to make room for a new one. Although their primary use is for live captioning, they are sometimes seen in pre-recorded video for single speaker programming (such as sermons, educational videos, or narrated documentaries).

Because roll-up captions are most commonly used with live programming, roll-up captions are almost always verbatim, and do not always include accurate grammar or punctuation. Speaker change is denoted with the >> symbol. Sound effects and other non-speech sounds are rarely included in roll-up captions.

Below, we’ve embedded an example of a video with roll-up captions.

Pop-On Captions

Pop-on captions are generally used for pre-recorded and online video. Pop-on captions almost always include sound effects and other non-speech noises, speaker identification, and accurate grammar and spelling. Pop-on captions usually appear in blocks of one to three lines at a time, and should not obscure any important on-screen text or information. Each caption is replaced by a new one such that the text is in sync with the audio.

For accessibility purposes, pop-on captions are the preferred option. They are generally more time-synchronized, accurate, and descriptive than roll-up captions. They also take into account typography, styling, and punctuation, which makes them even easier to follow. At 3Play Media, we follow strict quality standards to provide the most accurate captions possible.

Below, we’ve embedded an example of a video with pop-on captions.

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