Subtitles & Transcription

Everything you need to know about Subtitles, Captions, Transcription & Translation

Welcome to the VEED guide to Subtitles & Transcription. We’ve put together all the information you could possibly need to know about Subtitles, Captions, Transcription and Translation.

Check out the table of contents below and click on the chapters to read the relevant section.

We created this guide to be your easy-to-read reference for all things Subtitles & Transcription. We hope you find it valuable. And if there’s anything you think we’ve missed, or any other questions you may have, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via the live chat, or drop us an email. Happy reading!

Contents

10 Chapters, 34 Topics

Chapter 1.

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles vs. Captions

Subtitles are a transcription or translation of a video’s dialogue, appearing as text. 

Some people would say the difference between ‘subtitles’ and ‘captions’ is that subtitles are a translation of the video’s dialogue, while captions are in the same language as the video. But most people use them pretty interchangeably.

Subtitles/Captions can be helpful if you are watching a video in a foreign language, and you need help understanding what’s being said.

They can also be helpful for people who are hard of hearing and want to read what is being said, in the same language as the video. Sometimes these are called SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard-of-hearing).

Captions (in the same language) can also include background noises, like #Telephone rings, whereas subtitles (in a different language) usually don’t. Captions can be ‘Closed Captions’ (which means you can turn them on/off), or they can be ‘Open Captions’ (which means they’re always visible).

Check out our Video Caption Generator.

Subtitles that are always visible are called ‘hardcoded’. Here’s some more information on how to Hardcode Subtitles

Subtitle File Types

There are quite a few different types (or formats) of subtitle file. But the main ones are:

SRT - SubRip Subtitle File (best for videos on Facebook)

VTT - Web Video Text Track (best for videos on YouTube & Vimeo)

TXT - Untimed Text Transcript (can be opened by any word processor)

SSA - SubStation Alpha (allows for more advanced subtitles)

ASS - Advanced SubStation Alpha (even more advanced!)

SRT files are the most widely used, and widely supported by media players and online platforms. If you’re not sure which one to use, it’s best to go for SRT.

Which Font

When adding subtitles, or captions, to a video, it’s a good idea to choose a font that is clear, simple, and easy to read. 

Arial and Times are good, clear fonts to choose. Make sure the size of the font is well balanced between being large enough to read, and small enough that it doesn’t obscure too much of the video. 

In terms of colour - go for white or yellow, as they are the most visible against different coloured backgrounds. White is easier on the eye, better for longer videos (if your viewers will be reading your subtitles for a while). Yellow is bright and stands out (!) and can be a good way of grabbing your audience’s attention, for a shorter video.

Here’s some more info on that: Add Subtitles to Video

Auto Subtitles

These days, you can add subtitles to your video, automatically, using speech-recognition software. Here is VEED’s auto-subtitle tool. It can recognise over 100 different languages, and even different accents! It can also translate between languages. And if you need to make any edits, you just click on the text, and type. It’s pretty easy. 


Chapter 2.

What is Transcription?

Speech to Text

Transcription is a written or printed version of something - like an mp3, or a video. 

So, it’s basically just turning the speech from your audio or video file into text.

Transcripts come in lots of different formats - text files (.txt), word files (.doc), pdf files (.pdf), and more. 

Transcription Practices

There are also different transcription practices. The two main practices are called ‘Verbatim’, and ‘Clean Read Transcription’. 

Verbatim transcripts are word-for-word. They take absolutely everything (even sounds like ‘um’ and ‘er’) and turn it into text. 

Clean Read transcripts are tidied-up versions. They remove sounds like ‘um’ and ‘er’, and also correct grammatical mistakes. This makes them easier to read. Makes sense, right?

Interactive Transcripts

You can also get interactive transcripts, where each word acts like a link, and when you click on it, you are taken to the point in the video when it is said. This makes finding keywords, and researching topics super-easy.

If you want to find out more about our free transcription software, you can follow the link.


Chapter 3.

Why use Subtitles?

SEO

Subtitles make your video more searchable. Creating a text element to your video means that search engines can ‘crawl’ your content. This means it will appear in more searches, and higher up search pages and feeds.

Increasing the searchability of your content is also known as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

Accessibility

An important reason for adding subtitles is, of course, accessibility. Subtitles make your video accessible to:

  • foreign audiences
  • audiences who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
  • people who watch videos without sound (a new, rapidly growing kind of audience)

Did you know … ? 85% of Facebook videos are now watched without sound. This is just part of the ‘click to listen’ revolution. Find out more, here - The future of short-form video.

It is also important to mention that, in 1990, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) came into effect. This Act requires that an ‘equivalent experience’ must be provided for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers (in America only). Essentially, for video content to comply with the law, it has to be captioned. You can read much more about that, in our chapter on Accessibility (Chapter 9).


Chapter 4.

Why Transcribe?

SEO Reasons

Creating Transcripts of your audio and video files makes them more searchable. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and it’s just a fancy way of saying - “trying to make sure content appears in more searches, and higher up the results page.”

Let’s look at two examples:

  1. Podcasts - creating a transcript of your podcast means that all the topics and keywords can be searched for and found by people who want to listen. You can find more info about that here: Podcast Transcript Generator
  2. Marketing Videos - you can create a transcript for your Ad, Social video, YouTube video, etc., and include it in the description, or post it on your website with a link back to the original video content. Here’s how: Automatically Transcribe Video to Text

Training & Education

Transcription is an incredibly useful tool for anyone creating Training Videos, Educational Videos, or Online Training Courses.

You can create interactive transcripts that allow your learners to click on a word, and they will be taken to the point in the video when the word is said. Handy, huh? 

You can learn more about how to make those kinds of videos, here: Training Videos, Educational Video Maker

You can also create valuable teaching materials out of your transcripts - like ‘fill in the blanks’ worksheets for language teachers, or exemplar interviews for careers trainers.

Zoom Meetings

Recording your Zoom meetings using our free transcription software can be a great way to provide value to your business. If some attendees were unable to make it, to stay for the whole meeting, or to hear/understand because of Accessibility issues or poor connection ... transcripts are what you need!

Plus, as an added bonus, nobody need take meeting minutes anymore!

Transcripts of meetings can provide an excellent paper trail, be useful for generating attendance records, Action Plans, and more. Check out our page on how to edit zoom recording & create transcripts, to find out more.

Legal Records

We’ve all seen the courtroom drama where there’s a long, suspenseful pause, and the typist looks up from the typewriter, waiting. Well, the keeping of legal records is another important reason for transcription, and nowadays lots of these records are produced using video. 

Whether you’re keeping a record of a language lesson, a business meeting, an interview, or an exciting legal case, you can find more info here: Automatically Transcribe Video to Text. You can even do it with audio files - Audio to Text.

Accessibility Reasons

Transcripts can also be useful from an Accessibility point of view. As an alternative to subtitles they can provide access to content, for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. We have a whole section on Accessibility (Chapter 9.) below. 


Chapter 5.

Adding Subtitles to Video

Adding subtitles to Social Media

You can add subtitles to any social media video. And it’s a great idea to do it (!), for lots of reasons. It’s beneficial for SEO, your video can be watched by more people … and all of this is discussed in Chapter 3. Why use Subtitles?

To find out exactly how to add subtitles to your YouTube or Facebook video, click on the relevant link below, to find out more information:

Add Subtitles to YouTube

Add Captions to Facebook video

If you’re using Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or any other social media platform, this is the link for you:

Add Subtitles to Video

Or you can check out our step-by-step guide, in this Help Article (with YouTube video), here: How To Add Subtitles to a Video

Adding subtitles to Different Video Formats

There are lots of different video file formats out there - MP4, AVI, MOV, WEBM ... Sometimes it can be confusing. But we’re here to try to make it simple. You can add subtitles to any video format, using VEED.

Here’s all the information you need to know about how to ...

Add subtitles to MP4

Add subtitles to AVI

auto-subtitle

Add SRT to MP4

And if you have any other video file type (eg. MOV, WEBM, WMV), you can learn more here: Add Subtitles to Video

Easy.

Hardcode subtitles

Hardcoded subtitles are the same as ‘Open Captions’. It just means that the subtitles are always visible (you can’t turn them off).

If you want to find out more about how to Hardcode Subtitles - you can follow the link. No problemo.

Editing subtitles

Editing subtitles is super-easy. Check out our Subtitle Editor. Once you’ve typed in your subtitles, or used our auto-subtitle tool to generate subtitles for your video, all you have to do is:

  1. Click on the subtitle text
  2. … and start to type!

Pretty easy, right? Your changes will appear on the video in real time (which is pretty cool). 

You can find out more, here - How To Edit Subtitles


Chapter 6.

Transcribing Audio Files

How to Transcribe an Audio File

Transcribing an audio file can be super-helpful for lots of reasons - SEO, Accessibility, Record Keeping, Teaching Tools, etc. (and this is all discussed in Chapter 4. Why Transcribe?)

To find out exactly how to transcribe an audio file, follow this link: Audio to Text

There, you’ll find all the information you need to know on our free transcription software, different file formats, and more.

It’s pretty comprehensive.

You can even translate your transcription. Check it out here: Translate Audio to Text

Different Audio File Formats

Audio files come in lots of different formats - MP3, WAV, M4A, and more. It can be a little overwhelming at first. 

But, whatever audio file type you are starting with, you can find out more information about how to generate and edit your transcription, here:

MP3 to Text

WAV to Text

M4A to Text

If your audio file isn’t mentioned above (eg. AAC, OGG) then this is the link for you:

Audio to Text

Each page will walk you through the what, how, why, where and when of transcribing audio.

Different Transcript File Formats

There are a few different ways to save your Transcript file. For example, you can save it as a text file, a word document, or a PDF. It’s helpful to get your format right, for the person that will be reading it. 

A text file (.txt) is the most simple and commonly used format. It can be opened by any computer (windows, or mac) without the need for extra software.

A word document (.doc, .docx) requires Microsoft Word (a piece of word-processing software) to be installed. Not everyone has access to a computer with Microsoft Word installed.

A PDF (.pdf) is similar to a word document, in that certain software needs to be installed in order to read it (eg. Adobe Acrobat, or Foxit PDF Reader) - BUT with one important difference, you can’t edit it. No changes can be made to the text. You can make notes/marks over the text, but you can’t change the text itself. It’s stuck. Frozen. This is useful for when you’ve document looking exactly how you want it, and you don’t want any changes to be made.


Chapter 7.

Transcribing Video Files

How to Transcribe a Video File

Transcribing video files was once a laborious and time-consuming process. But now it’s easy!

If you’re looking for more information on how to transcribe a video, then follow this link: Automatically Transcribe Video to Text.

Our handy guide includes everything you need to know about our free transcription software, different file formats, etc.

If you’re looking to Transcribe a YouTube video, straight from its URL (without having to download it), then this is the link for you: Transcribe YouTube Video.

Video File Formats

Video Files come in a whole range of different formats. But, no matter what file format your original video file is in, you can convert the speech into text. 

You can convert MP4 to Text. Or, if you have any other format of video - AVI, MOV, WEBM, WMV, etc. - you can click this link to find out more: Automatically Transcribe Video to Text.

Transcript File Formats

You can also convert your transcription into an array of different file formats. Which one you choose will depend on who will be reading it. Here are some handy guides:

For more information on text files (.txt), word documents (.doc) and PDFs (.pdf), head up to Chapter 6.


Chapter 8.

Converting Subtitle Files

How to Convert Subtitle Files

SRT (.srt) is the most common subtitle format. However, it may be useful to convert an SRT file into a text file, so that you can read it without the video. Or, you may have a subtitle file that is not compatible with your video player, or doesn’t seem to work for some of your users and followers ...

No problem! It’s time to convert!

No matter which file format you are using, you can convert it. Here are a few examples of formats that you can quickly and easily convert between:

SRT to VTT

VTT to SRT

SRT to TXT

But whatever format you’re using - VTT, ASS, SSA, TXT - you can convert it. Just head over to our Subtitle Converter.

Here’s a little more information on Subtitle File Types:

SRT - SubRip Subtitle File (best for videos on Facebook)

VTT - Web Video Text Track (best for videos on YouTube & Vimeo)

TXT - Untimed Text Transcript (can be opened by any word processor)

SSA - SubStation Alpha (allows for more advanced subtitles)

ASS - Advanced SubStation Alpha (even more advanced!)


Chapter 9.

Accessibility

SDH Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard of hearing

Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing are captions that display a video’s dialogue as text, in the same language. This helps viewers understand what’s going on in the video. 

SDH may also include background noises, like #Dogs barking, or lyrics from songs on the soundtrack.

You can take a look through our full guide, here: SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard-of-hearing)

ADA American Disabilities Act

The American Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. What it means, is that for public video content to comply with the law, it must have captions. This is to provide an ‘equivalent experience’ for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

It’s super-interesting. The NAD (National Association of the Deaf) even sued Netflix, in 2010, for not providing captions with all its video content. And Netflix paid an out-of-court settlement, and agreed that by 2014 all of its content would have captions.

Foreign Languages

Subtitles ensure accessibility for people who speak a different language to the one being used in the video. You can automatically create subtitles (auto-subtitle), and automatically translate those subtitles (Translate Subtitles) into over 100 different languages.

It’s super easy and quick to do. Just click on the links above, or to find out about which languages we support, click here:

Languages We Support for Subtitle Generation & Translation

Viewers Watching without Sound

More and more people are watching videos without sound. On Facebook, for example, 85% of videos are now being watched without sound.

It’s funny, it’s almost a return to the era of silent movies. Think Charlie Chaplin meets Instagram!

Subtitles provide accessibility to those viewers who are watching without sound. You can find out more here, at The future of short-form video.


Chapter 10.

Languages & Translation

Languages

Subtitles make videos accessible to people from all around the world, speaking different languages. 

You can translate your subtitles and transcriptions into over 100 different languages. To find out more check out how to Translate Subtitles, and which Languages We Support for Subtitle Generation & Translation.

You can use subtitle translation to ensure your videos are searched for, and watched by people from all over the globe. It can be a really great way to boost followers, views, and engagement.

Accents

It’s also possible to detect words in the same language being spoken with different accents. For example, English (United States) sounds pretty different to English (Ghana), which sounds pretty different to English (Philippines).

You can use our tool to detect 13 different accents, all speaking English. To try it here, just upload a video (or add it straight from a url, eg. from YouTube), then click ‘Subtitles’ > ‘Auto Subtitles’, and select which language and accent you want to detect.

Spanish to English

You can translate your videos from Spanish to English, automatically. In fact, you can translate from any language to English (over 100 different languages!)

But for more on Spanish, click here - Spanish Transcription.

English to Spanish

Similarly, you can translate from English to Spanish...or, indeed, any language into Spanish. But if your heart’s desire is to translate from English into Spanish, then you can do it. Find out more, here: Translate Subtitles, Translate Audio to Text