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Captions vs Subtitles: The Difference Matters


Some people believe that captions are just another word for subtitles. But there is a world of difference between the two words. Here at Fix Translations, we know that a caption is not the same as a subtitle; and that each serves a unique and important role.

Captions vs. Subtitles  Even though people mix up the two words all the time, they are quite different. Broadly speaking, both subtitles and captions are tools that make videos easier to understand. But the technical aspects of the issues they address makes them very different.   What Purpose Does Each Serve? For instance, while captions display audible content, subtitles display linguistic content.

To clarify, captions are intended for deaf viewers, which is why they typically have the same language as the video and include non-verbal cues like slamming doors, starting cars, background music, grunting, and other sound effects.  On the contrary, subtitles are supposed to assist viewers who cannot understand the language in the video follow the ensuing dialogue. So, subtitles do not include sound effects, they just have a translation of the words being spoken in the video, since the viewer can hear other sounds.

The shutting of doors, background music, and other sound effects are no different to the viewer regardless of their native language and so they need no translation. That is why subtitles focus on language only. So, Why the Mix-Up? People confuse the two because in many cases, both subtitles and captions display textual versions of the dialogs taking place in the video. Another reason people got them mixed up is that they both require the same technology and techniques to appear in videos.

For instance, even on a massive video sharing site like YouTube, the same option is used to add subtitles and captions to the video content.

But in general, if you need a video translated, what you need are subtitles. This is the most common option so that videos can be viewed by people who speak other native languages. However, when people say they need linguistic content that can help the hearing-impaired understand the video’s soundtrack, then what they really need are captions.

Can You Have Both? Yes, it is possible to have both captions and subtitles in a video. For instance, you can have captions in English, and subtitles in a selection of languages. That said, it is always a good idea to know what is needed during the video translation process before subtitling or captioning begins. That is because even though the two are related, switching from one to another can take a significant amount of extra effort.

What of Closed Captions? Closed captioning is different from captioning. With closed captions, the viewer sees the captions only if they activate them. But regular captions are visible all the time. In fact, their full name is open captions.

To Sum Up, Whatever you need to be done during your video translation, you can trust Flix Translations to get the job right. We can get your video subtitled and even add captions if that is what you want. Our experience in a broad range of translation services and resources ensure that we deliver quality results every time.

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