Closed Captions vs Subtitles – What’s the difference?

Closed captions and subtitles are often mistaken as the same. Even though we can say both are similar but not entirely. The sole purpose of both closed captioning and subtitles is to provide text translations of the audio being spoken. 

Closed Captions are built for those people who suffer from hearing difficulties. Subtitles are utilized by those viewers who can hear properly but are unable to understand the language.

In this post, we will discuss everything about closed captions and subtitles and their differences. 

Difference between Closed Captions vs Subtitles:

Closed Captions

Closed Captions are initially used to guide those users who suffer from hearing impairment. It contains texts of the same language that is spoken in the video and provides a direct translation to those who can’t hear the audio. 

For example, deaf people use closed captioning on screen as it provides text information of the dialogues spoken on the video and the background voice, emotion, tone, etc. This helps upgrade the viewing experience for people who are unable to hear properly. 


Subtitles on the other hand are built for those users who can hear the audio being spoken on the video but don’t understand the language. 

For example, People who don’t speak Korean can still enjoy Korean dramas worldwide by using subtitles options. The availability of subtitles is one of the major reasons behind content from different regions being explored and appreciated worldwide. 

Advantages of Closed captions and Subtitles 

Closed captions and subtitles provide many benefits apart from just assisting people with hearing impairment and viewers who don’t understand the audio. Here are some additional benefits of Closed Captions and Subtitles: 

Makes content accessible in the sound-sensitive area 

Having closed captions and subtitles can help viewers watch videos anywhere and everyone without any trouble of disturbance or sounds. So, if you are in a library, office, train, or any other public area, you can simply watch videos without missing out on anything through subtitles.  

Help explore the content of different languages. 

One major benefit of having subtitles and closed captioning is its ability to allow viewers worldwide to explore more content. Now anyone can enjoy great content from across the world regardless of their nationality or whether they speak the language used in the show/movie or not, thanks to subtitles. 


Turning on subtitles can increase the clarity of the content and help viewers understand better. This is especially helpful when the video involves talks on technology or technical languages, industry-related talks, and more. Having subtitles just makes it easier for people to understand, as not everyone is familiar with technical knowledge.   

Understand another language 

One of the best ways to learn a new language is by watching movies or shows. Having closed captions or subtitles at the bottom of your screen can help you learn and understand the language. So, this is a great way to learn a new language with entertainment. 

Types of Closed captions and Subtitles 

Most people might not have any idea, but there are different types of closed captions and subtitles used in media. It includes captions used in live media, pre-recorded programs, and more. Here we are going to list down all about those closed captions and subtitles: 

Open Captions

Open captions are permanent captions that can’t be disabled in movies, shows, or any online videos. Similar to subtitles or captions, they provide dialogue and important text on the screen. Since they are open captions, they can’t be turned on or off, as they are already added to the video track. 

For example, You must have noticed in movies; subtitles automatically appear on the screen the moment a character begins to speak a different language. These are open captions. 

Closed Captions 

Closed captions can be defined as captions that can be turned on and off per the viewer’s preference. Closed captions are used on a large scale worldwide for streaming videos. These captions are easy to edit and remove. 

Pop-Up Captions 

Pop-on closed captions are pre-recorded and mostly seen in streaming, broadcast, and web videos. As the name suggests, these captions pop up on the screen, staying visible for a few seconds and then disappearing once the next line appears. 

These captions can be customized and are considered the best option for streaming experience and reflect features such as tone and time. These captions are pre-recorded and cannot be used in live broadcasts. 

Roll-up Captions 

Roll-up captions are used in live broadcast programs. These captions are verbatim and operate at the same times as the audio. As the name suggests, each line rolls up with about three lines. 

As soon as the new line is added, the first line disappears off the screen, providing a continuous process of rolling up, which provides a good amount of time for viewers to read captions. Even though live show programs tend to use roll-up captions, still few pre-recorded programs use these captions too. 

Paint-on Captions 

Paint-on captions are individual words that are painted on a letter by letter from the left direction to the right. These captions are verbatim and don’t just pop up at once. These types of captions are used as the opening caption for various pre-recorded videos or programs. 

Just like pop-up captions, paint-on captions are also stylized similarly based on the condition. These captions are also used to avoid delays during the onscreen appearance of pre-recorded captions. 

Adding Closed captions and Subtitles to media 

Closed captions and subtitles are an excellent way to make content available for deaf, hard-hearing users and people who speak different languages. Therefore, here is how you can add captions or subtitles to your video media: 

For adding closed captions and subtitles, you can use two types of files: 

Caption file 

This kind of file contains information regarding the text along with the time of the subtitles with the video. Since the caption file includes time information, these kinds of files are often recommended for captions.

Transcript File 

This kind of file only includes text information. By uploading a transcript, the player has to determine when and where the text should be displayed on the video. Another thing about transcript files is that it takes a bit of additional time to process in the video player compared to a caption file. 

SubRip (*.SRT) format and Subviewer (*.SUB) are the only two formats that are supported for captions. 

Things to note to help people with readability: 

  • To assist people with hearing disabilities, you need to put specific descriptions such as [music] or [crying] in brackets. 
  • To showcase speaker change, you need to include >> at the beginning of a new sentence. 

Once you have uploaded the video on the drive, you can add captions by following these methods: 

  • Sign in to drive on your PC 
  • Click on the video where you want to add subtitles 
  • Click on the three-dot icon to manage caption tracks 
  • Tap on Add new caption tracks 
  • Now, click on Select file and choose transcript or caption file 
  • Select the language of subtitles and the name of the track 
  • Lastly, Click Upload, and your captions will be enabled


We hope through this article, you can differentiate between closed captions and subtitles. Apart from this, we have also discussed the advantages of closed captioning and subtitles, the types of captions and subtitles available in media, and how they are used. We hope this article was helpful to you. 

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