Subtitles in Videos: Tips and Tools

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video marketing

Subtitles belong not only in ARTE reports or Netflix series, but in every video. This means a certain amount of extra work in production, but it pays off. We explain why this is so in the blog article.

Who does not know it: You sit on the train and scroll through the videos in the various social networks. Unfortunately you don’t have the headphones with you. Watching videos out loud on public transport – who does that? So the scrolling continues. Only videos with subtitles are of interest. Because they can also be received inconspicuously without sound. 

Reasons for using subtitles in videos

Expand target group and audience

As already described at the beginning: You can reach more people with subtitles. Especially when users are on the move, they can use subtitles to capture what is being said in the video. It is also possible to not only provide videos with subtitles in the original language, but also to add subtitles in other languages. With a translation – for example into English – you can reach a very large audience. 

Search engine optimization

Search algorithms don’t understand sound. At least not yet. Above all, they evaluate texts and contexts. In addition to the video description and a clear video title, the subtitle file can also improve the placement of your video in search engine results. The subtitles give the crawlers additional information about what is happening in the video and which key terms are relevant. 

Accessibility

Subtitles break down barriers in the internet. They enable deaf and hearing-impaired people to access audiovisual media. Subtitles can be used to ensure that videos do not exclude or discriminate against anyone. This ensures that deaf and hearing-impaired people receive the same quality of information. 

Subtitle standards

In order to give you an idea of ​​what you should look out for with the subtitles in your videos, we present the subtitle standards of the public broadcasters. 

Form: Subtitles consist of a maximum of two lines and are centered as a text block at the bottom of the image. If possible, the lines should be divided according to units of meaning.

  • Characters: A maximum of 37 characters are used in one line.
  • Font: High-contrast, easily legible font on a background.
  • Service life: One second minimum service life, depending on the number of characters in a text block. People read an average of 13-15 characters per second.
  • Synchronicity: Subtitles should be displayed synchronously with the picture / sound and cuts should be observed. It should be subtitled lip-synchronic and as close as possible to the original text. 
  • Noise and music: acoustic signals should be framed with asterisks to make it clear that they are not spoken words. Lyrics should be subtitled in the original language and the genre should be named if necessary. 

Subtitle tools

There are many different programs and tools for creating subtitles yourself. Some are free, others are features of paid video production software. In the following we present some free options: 

  • Amara.org: Registration is required here, the videos submitted are also publicly accessible. On the platform, you can create subtitles with the help of others and work on a video together. The tool is particularly suitable for creating subtitles for YouTube and Vimeo videos. There are also warnings about the quality of the subtitles.
  • Subtitle Horse: You don’t need to sign up for this application and you can start creating your video subtitles right away. The special feature: You can set the font style – i.e. font, size, etc. – and use various symbols. 
  • Microsoft’s HTML5 Video Caption Maker: The tool can be used without registration. You can use it to create Web Video Text Track (WebVTT) or Timed Text Markup Language (TTML) files. 

In addition to the web applications, there are also desktop editors: 

  • Subtitle Edit: With the open source video subtitle tool, you can edit asynchronous subtitles, create new subtitles or translate them with Google Translate. 
  • CADET: the desktop application is a free tool that allows you to create subtitles that are compatible with any media player. In addition, audio description scripts can be created with CADET.
  • Subtitle Workshop: The free application supports all subtitle formats and has various functions for text checking and supports different languages.
  • Aegisub: The open source tool offers different options for creating, changing and designing subtitles. There is also a built-in video preview in real time. 

Insert subtitles directly on the platforms

Of course, many social media and video platforms also offer their own subtitle functions.

YouTube: For example, if you have your corporate film publish on YouTube, this is the fastest and easiest way to create subtitles. Upload your video and YouTube will create the subtitles all by itself. This can take a while – depending on the length of the video – but it is much faster than manual entry.

You will receive a notification as soon as the subtitles have been created. You can now view and edit them. We would like to advise you to do this, because the automatically generated subtitles often have errors. When you’re done editing, it’s time to publish the subtitles and video. You also have the option of exporting the subtitle file, for example as an srt file. This is the common file format for subtitles that is also accepted by Facebook, for example. 

Facebook: You can also add subtitles to your video on Facebook. To do this, you need to upload a video in the Creator Studio and click on “Subtitles” in the sidebar. When the video is uploaded, you can choose the language and have the subtitles generated automatically.

Alternatively, you can write the subtitles yourself or upload an srt file. The automated function for creating subtitles is not yet fully developed on Facebook. In any case, this still needs to be improved.

Conclusion

Subtitles not only support search engine optimization of your video, they also make it accessible. With subtitles in different languages, you have the opportunity to reach a wide variety of people and expand your audience.

In addition to the ability to automatically add the subtitles on social platforms like Facebook or YouTube, there are numerous web and desktop applications that can do this for you. If you have your video created by a professional video production company, we recommend that you order the subtitles at the same time. 

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