How Much Text Should I Use in My Video? Secret Tips from wave.video Designer
Text on video is important. It helps your audience follow the message even when the sound is off. Sometimes, it conveys the message even better than an image and it definitely helps the video to be more engaging, understandable, and clear.
But how much text on video is enough? Or better yet, how much text is just the right amount?
Maria Cherepanova, a marketing designer here at wave.video, makes dozens of videos every week: for ads, blog posts, landing pages and social media. She shared some of her secret sauce recipe for placing text on video.
Tip 1. Match the text and background
A text on video doesn’t exist by itself. It would actually need a video to become text on video (but this is not Maria’s secret tip yet ?)
Try matching the background with the amount of text you put on it. If it is an actual video and not just an animated static image, you might want to put less text on it, so that the viewer focuses on the video and not the text.
Match the background with the amount of text you put on it.
At the same time, align the text you put on video with the objects that are in the video. For instance, imagine you are making a video about wild horses. The moving horses are located in the lower part of the screen, so you might want to place your test in the upper part. This way, both horses and text are visible. Like this:
If the background is an image or an abstract video, you can put more text on video because this way, the text and not the image should draw more attention. The emphasis is on the text anyway. Like this:
Tip 2. Highlight what’s important
Human beings are visual creatures. That is, we interact with visual content better and rely on visual guidance whenever possible. Just think about: what text is easier to read – the one with the bullet points or the one without them? The only thing that changed is the structure of the text.
The same principle works for text on video, too. After all, it’s still a text, so try highlighting the most important words, no matter the amount. When you highlight a certain word or phrase, it helps you stay focused and get rid of the less important text or rephrase it to make it shorter. The less text you have, the better. Like this:
Your video is not a poor PowerPoint presentation, so avoid putting too much text on the screen. Highlighting the words and phrases will help you stay focused. You can use numbers to indicate what part of the text is showing on the screen so that the viewers can follow the story more easily. Uh oh, and by the way, each number can be placed on a separate slide (scene), too!
Pro tip: Before publishing your video, run a quick “corridor test”. That is, ask whoever is in the corridor (or any other person around you, for that matter) to watch your video. If they have enough time to read everything that you’ve put on the screen and follow easily with the story, your video is ok to be shared with the world.
Tip 3. Break the text into smaller chunks
If you really need to use a longer text, try breaking it into smaller chunks and placing each phrase on a separate slide. For instance, if your text has 3 phrases with 5-6 words each, they can be placed on one slide (scene). If the text is longer, it would be best to break it down into shorter phrases and put each phrase on a separate slide (scene).
If it’s a quote that you want to use fully, Maria recommends two ways of how you can approach it:
- You can start a quote on one slide and finish on the second one. Use opening quotation marks on the first slide and closing quotes on the second.
- You can make the quote stay longer on the screen. This way, the viewers will have enough time to read it.
Tip 4. Don’t be afraid to experiment
When Apple released their promo video for iPhone X, it was revolutionary. They only put one word on the screen, and this word was changing so fast, people really had to focus to follow along. People loved the idea so much, they started using this new technique to make their videos really catchy. For instance, this is our promo video from the INBOUND conference we attended this year:
The idea behind this tip is quite simple: don’t be afraid to try something new and experiment with the amount of text you put on the screen. It might just be one word on the screen or several sentences; you wouldn’t know what works best for your audience unless you try.
Examples of Using Text on Video (with Word Count)
Now, to get the ball rolling and give you some actionable ideas of how much text is enough, here are some examples of using text in your videos.
Maria called this type of text on video “the biggest attack on human brain”. No wonder: when you just put one word on a scene or slide, it’s going to have a huge impact. This type of text on video is best for ads, as it evokes emotions and catches attention.
Another example of using just one word on a scene is educational videos: e.g., to teach a foreign language.
The most popular example of using two words on a screen is a call to action: Sign Up, Buy Now, Order Today. What do you want your viewers to do after they finish watching the video? Take this action verb, add a time pronoun like “now” or “today”, and you’ll have a perfect call to action. To strengthen brand awareness, the CTA might also be accompanied by your logo.
Three words on a slide or scene give a perfect space for adding an emotional adjective to your call to action. Instead of just saying “make videos” you can say “make beautiful videos” or “create engaging stories”. All those words like “mind-blowing”, “awesome”, “fantastic”, “amazing” will give your call to action an emotional spark.
Putting four words on a slide or scene is a perfect solution for Facebook ads. This way, you can make the text bigger (and thus more readable and attention-grabbing) and split it into two or three lines.
Five or Six Words
This is a great text length for recipes. Use one 5 or 6-word phrase for each slide you have in your video. This way, your audience will have enough time to focus on what is written and notice the background video, too.
How much text do you usually put on your videos? Share in the comments below!