The Difference Between Subtitle and Caption in Video Transcription

Subtitle vs. Caption

Closed captions and subtitles are often used interchangeably when referring to the dialogues you read along to when you watch movies on Netflix or videos on YouTube.

Although they look similar, they are not the same. They are designed for different purposes even though sometimes they overlap. Even with clear differences, both are used to reach a wider audience.


Subtitles are the text version of the spoken words of the characters or the narrators in the movies. With subtitles, it is assumed that the viewer can hear the audio but wants a text version to read along.

Subtitles are commonly used to show translation of dialogues to foreign languages for movies being distributed to non-English speaking countries and vice versa.

Closed Captions

Closed captions (CC) are supplementary text version of the dialogues that may include:

  • Description of background noises

  • Lyrics of of the song playing on the background

  • Audio cues

Viewers with hearing impairment can appreciate the videos and movies because there are additional descriptions that help distinguish changes in emotions and actions.

Here’s an example of subtitle vs. closed caption.

Here’s an example of closed caption describing that the theme music is playing.

In video transcription, closed captioning is a little more tedious to do because you have to include the background music, background noise, and other significant sounds that could help capture the action and emotion of the characters.

Subtitling is pretty straightforward but it requires translation skills if the subtitles have to be in a different languages. A movie or a video can have different language subtitles for different markets.

If you have need help in captioning and subtitling, contact us. We can help you decide if your videos need captions or subtitles.

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