What is the difference between subtitles and closed captions?

The difference between subtitles and closed captions can be confusing at first. They both appear as text on the bottom of your screen, however there are differences between the two. Even Netflix, the streaming giant, groups subtitles and closed captions under the heading of subtitles.

The main difference between subtitles and closed captions is that subtitles are a translation of the dialogue, whereas closed captions are a transcription.

  • Subtitles = Translation
  • Closed Captions = Transcription

Captions are primarily used by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing as closed captions also include extra information such as background noises. With closed captions, as well as the dialogue, you'll also get sound cues such as a phone ringing [ring ring] or a dog bark [bark].

Subtitles however are used when the viewer doesn’t speak the language in the video. For example, foreign language films in English speaking countries.

To learn more about the advantages of subtitles, read out blog post: 4 Benefits of Using Closed Captions In Your Video Content.

Last Updated:
February 2021

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