Despite their similarities, captions and subtitles have distinct characteristics based on their context and purpose. However, subtitles are not interchangeable with captions. Although they are similar at face value, something that a normal person would see as mere words on a screen, they have differences that, when highlighted, become distinct.



A lot of foreign movie enthusiasts are surely familiar with using subtitles as they play an important role in making video content accessible to audiences all over the world. They translate the dialogue spoken in a video into other languages, enabling viewers to understand and enjoy the content even if they do not speak the language spoken in the film or TV series. This allows for a much wider audience reach and makes it possible for people to enjoy videos, movies, and other types of content regardless of the language they speak. Subtitles are a great way to bridge language barriers and make video content more inclusive. However, it’s important to note that subtitles only translate spoken dialogue; they don’t convey non-speech elements like sound effects in an audio track.


Captions are designed for viewers who are unable to hear the audio. They provide a written representation of the dialogue as well as other relevant audio information, such as sound effects, speaker IDs, and other non-speech elements. This makes it easier for hard-of-hearing individuals to understand and enjoy the content. Also, it is important to note that captions can also be helpful for those with cognitive or learning disabilities, as they can provide additional information that can aid in understanding the content.

In the United States, captions are typically required by law for most video content. Additionally, captions are designed to be flexible and customizable, allowing users to change the visual display and positioning on the screen to avoid obstructing the visual images being presented.

There are two main types of captions: open captions and closed captions. Both types serve the same purpose, which is to provide a written representation of the audio in a video for viewers who are unable to hear it. However, the main difference between the two is their accessibility.

Closed captions are designed to be toggled on and off by the viewer. This means that viewers have the option to turn them on or off as needed. This feature is particularly useful for those who are hard of hearing, as it allows them to adjust the captions to their individual needs.

On the other hand, open captions are always in view and cannot be toggled off. This means that the captions are a permanent part of the video and cannot be turned off.

Captions and Subtitles: Differences

Accessibility when there is an absence of sound

Accessibility when there is an absence of sound

Both Captions and Subtitles can be helpful for the deaf and hard of hearing community, however, captions are more appropriate for the hearing impaired. Subtitles only contain the dialogue in the film or TV series, whereas captions, both open and closed, contain all non-speech elements that can help the audience understand what’s happening on the screen. For example, captions may also include sound effects, speaker identification, and descriptions of non-verbal actions that are taking place on screen. This additional information can be crucial for the deaf and hard of hearing community, as they may not be able to hear certain sounds or distinguish between different speakers.

Additionally, the details in the captions can also help for audiences who are in sound-sensitive or noisy environments, as well as non-native English speakers who are interested in learning more about the language. Although subtitles provide the written dialogue of the speakers on screen, captions provide more context to the dialogue being spoken.

Screen Placement

Subtitles and captions have almost similar purposes, but they have different screen placements. One similarity between the two is that they are both placed on the screen in a way that does not obstruct the visual elements of the video.

Subtitles are typically placed at the bottom of the screen, with a hyphen used to separate speakers. This format allows viewers to easily read the dialogue while still being able to view the visual elements of the video. Captions, on the other hand, can be placed under the speaker to provide a clear indication of the source of the audio. This format allows viewers to easily follow the dialogue and understand who is speaking without depending on the audio.



Captions are typically presented in the same language that is spoken in the TV show or movie, which allows viewers to understand the dialogue and its nuances without the audio. Subtitles, on the other hand, are used to translate the speech into different languages, depending on the target audience, in order to make the content more inclusive and accessible to people who speak different languages. They are also helpful for viewers who have difficulty hearing or understanding certain accents or dialects.

Why you Need Professional Captioning and Subtitling Services for your Project

In North America, all video content that goes on air must be closed captioned as mandated by the FCC. Foreign films and TV series have subtitles added to them to reach a bigger audience.

Professional captioning and subtitling services are essential for the post-production process of any film and TV series project. Captions and subtitles that are not accurate or correctly synced with the audio can be distracting and take away from the viewing experience. Professional captioning and subtitling services ensure that captions and subtitles are accurate and synced with the audio.

Creating and distributing accessible content is vital for filmmakers, production companies, and distributors. This includes utilizing transcription and captioning services to make sure subtitles and closed captions are precise, easy to read, and error-free.

Daily Transcription offers professional closed-captioning, subtitling and translation services at reasonable prices. We ensure that the captions are correctly transcribed, in sync with the audio, and do not cover any on-screen graphics. If you need captions and subtitles for your film or TV project, contact us here and we’ll be ready to help.