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What is the difference between captions and subtitles?

Closed Captioning vs Subtitles

Some people refer to closed captions and subtitles interchangeably, but there’s an important distinction.

Both closed captions and subtitles are the text version of the spoken audio in a video. However, while subtitles involve translating the video’s language into an alternate language, closed captions are in the same language as the audio.

Closed captions are created to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing people to experience the video, so they includes background sounds and speaker changes. Subtitles assume the viewer hears the audio and as a result do not contain the background sounds or notifications for speaker changes.

Subtitles and captions have different goals

Subtitles allow people to watch videos even when they themsleves don’t speak the language.  With the growth of global video platforms, many video owners see the value of adding subtitles making their content available in multiple languages.

The growth of closed captions has coincided with the growth of mobile video consumption as more people watch videos in public places with the sound muted.


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Updated on June 19, 2018

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