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Video Captions: 7 Good Reasons to Transcribe Your Video Content

Video captions

More than ever, video is being used as an engaging form of digital marketing for businesses of all sizes. In fact, 85% of businesses now report using video as a marketing tool, with the majority of them enjoying a positive return on investment from video marketing.

With this in mind, there’s a good chance you’re already using video to your brand’s advantage — but you could be missing out on some major benefits if you’re not also transcribing your videos with captions.

By having a better understanding of what video captions are and the many benefits of incorporating them into your marketing, you can begin making the most of those videos you spend so much effort on.

And when it comes time to add captions to your videos, an experienced marketing professional can follow some important best practices to ensure that your transcriptions are accurate, accessible, and easy to read.

What Are Video Captions?

Simply put, video captioning refers to the addition of written text or subtitles to a video that allows viewers to follow along with what’s being said in the video itself.

Typically, these captions are displayed at the bottom of the screen which is also called a lower third.

Lower third

Nicely done video captions are accessible yet unobtrusive—and they can be closed (able to be toggled on and off) or open (permanently in-view).

Video captions allow viewers to follow along with what’s being said in the video itself.

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Types of Video Captions

More than likely, you’ve already seen first-hand what transcribed videos look like. However, there are actually a few distinctions to keep in mind that separate some transcription methods from others. By being aware of a few of the most common types of video captions and their applications, you can better decide which is right for you.

Text Overlay

Video captioning via text overlay is the most basic method, transcribing only portions of the video to highlight its key points and concepts. Text overlay captions can be a smart choice if your viewers don’t necessarily benefit from a word-by-word transcription of your video.

This method also requires a lot less time and effort to implement, as there is less to transcribe.

Text Overlay

(Source: Evan Carmichael)

Closed Captions

When you want your viewers to be able to follow along with your video word-by-word, then closed captioning will be your best bet. With closed captions, the narrative from the video shows up simultaneously along with speech in the video, allowing viewers to follow in real-time even if they have the video muted.

Closed video captions

(Source: MasterClass)


If you want your video to be available in multiple languages, then closed captions with subtitles are a wise choice. Specifically, subtitles provide word-by-word transcription of your video’s dialogue in one or more additional languages.

Video subtitles

(Source: Domestika)

Key Benefits of Captioning Your Videos

By now, you have a better understanding of a few of the most common types of video captions — but you still may not be totally convinced that adding captions to your video content is worth your time. Check out a few of the most compelling benefits of transcribing your video content below and we think you’ll see the light.

1. Better Convey Your Message

A study conducted by Oregon State University’s Ecampus Research Unit found that 52% of students view captions as a useful learning aid and help to improve overall comprehension. In this sense, using captions could help your brand better communicate its message.

Think about it; your text captions can serve as cognitive reinforcement for your video content, possibly making it easier for your viewers to understand key points and recall them later on.

Text captions serve as cognitive reinforcement for your video content, making it easier for your viewers to understand key points and recall them later on.

2. Foster a Flexible Watching Experience

Did you know that up to 85% of videos viewed on Facebook are played without sound? These days, mobile devices make it easier than ever for people to consume content on-the-go — but they’re often doing it from “sound-sensitive” environments where listening to full audio isn’t always possible.

Consider, for example, a person watching a video without headphones on a crowded subway. This is where having captions for your video can make all the difference, providing the flexibility that your users will appreciate when they’re unable to listen in.

3. Achieve Higher Engagement

Ultimately, one of your most desired outcomes when producing video content is to not just reach but engage your viewers, and adding text captions can help you do just that.

Consider, for instance, that including captions with your brand’s Facebook videos alone could increase view time by up to 12%. Another study found that videos with captions see 40% more views than uncaptioned videos, and that viewers are 80% more likely to watch a video in its entirety if it has captions. All of this is to suggest that videos with text are generally more engaging and captivating than their uncaptioned counterparts!

Video marketing statistics: 91% of videos with captions are watched to completion

4. Improve Accessibility

According to the World Health Organization, more than 5% of the global population (about 466 million people) have some form of hearing loss. Including closed captions with your brand’s videos makes it easier for hearing-disabled people to engage with your content and receive your message. And in some cases, video captions may even be legally required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Even if you aren’t legally required to include captions on your videos, the last thing you want is for a potential customer or client to associate your brand with one that is unaccommodating to the hearing-disabled population.

5. Boost Your SEO

Many people don’t realize that transcribing video content can also boost a brand’s search engine results, but it certainly can!

The bots that “crawl” the web are now able to read video captions in the form of an embedded text file, making it easier for your page to be indexed. From there, web users searching for keywords related to your video content can also have an easier time finding your content. Uncaptioned videos, on the other hand, cannot be “read” by search engine bots.

And of course, because you’re making your video more accessible by including captions in the first place, this can also play into your SEO algorithm and work to your brand’s advantage.

6. Better Localize Your Content

Video captioning also makes it easier to localize your content to suit different geographical areas or audiences that speak different languages. Once your video content is transcribed, translating it into another language is relatively quick and easy.

There is plenty of free and inexpensive translation software available that is pretty reliable; you also have the option of hiring a freelance translator for a relatively low cost if you’d prefer additional peace of mind (and accuracy).

Once your video content is transcribed, translating it into another language is relatively quick and easy.

7. Repurpose Your Content

Getting into the habit of captioning all your brand’s videos also makes it easier for you to create derivative content down the road.

A captioned webinar, for example, can be repurposed into an engaging blog post in a totally new format.

Furthermore, having transcribed versions of each of your brand’s videos makes it possible for you to quickly and easily grab quotes and key phrases for new content as needed.


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Adding Text to Video: Best Practices

Ready to incorporate captioning into your brand’s next video? Below are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind that will make your captions easier to read and more accessible to your viewers.

1. Clear backgrounds

For starters, always make sure that your caption fonts are placed over a clear background. Otherwise, your viewers may have a hard time differentiating some letters from lighter or darker backgrounds, which can make your message difficult to read.

If your video footage doesn’t offer a solid background for text insertion, consider setting a background color for your font that will be in high contrast with the text itself. For example, you might select a white background for maximum readability.

2. Plain fonts

When choosing a font, you’ll also want to select something simple that will be easy for your viewers to read. As a general rule, stay away from script and handwriting fonts, which can be challenging to read. For digital applications, sans serif fonts are recommended. Some examples of user-friendly sans serif fonts include:

  • Helvetica
  • Verdana
  • Futura

3. Reasonable pace

Finally, be mindful of the pace of your captioning as well. Set a pace that your viewers will be able to keep up with.

It’s always a good idea to “test” your captions by watching the video for yourself and making sure you don’t have trouble keeping up with the pace. You might also ask a few people who aren’t familiar with the video to watch it and follow along for more impartial feedback.

For more detailed instructions on how to better add text to videos refer to our extensive guide: Add Text to Video: Everything You Need to Know 

The Bottom Line on Video Captions

If you’re not already transcribing your brand’s videos, now is the time to start. Having captions for your videos will make your message more accessible to your audience and boost your SEO in the process!

7 Reasons to Add Video Captions to Your Videos

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