VTT? SRT? TTML? ABCDEFG? Subtitle file formats can seem pretty complicated. There are a lot of variations out there because of the many different options we have to view video, like television or YouTube. It may be tempting to choose a subtitle file type at the top of a dropdown list or something that is familiar (i.e., TXT), but it will save you time in the long run to understand which file format is just right for you, based on what you plan to do with the subtitles.

To help you make the best decision, we’ve compiled our recommendations for the best subtitle file formats to use based on your needs below, along with some great tips that will save time and prevent headaches.

If you’re using the Amara subtitle editor , you have the option to choose from a list of some of the most widely supported and popular subtitle file types.

Bonus: in most cases where a situation arises that you need a different subtitle file format that the one you have, you can also use the Amara subtitle editor to convert one filetype to another.

Supported subtitle formats for import/export with the Amara subtitle editor include:

  • SRT
  • SSA (SubStation Alpha)
  • TTML (Timed Text Markup Language)
  • SBV (YouTube format)
  • DFXP (Distribution Format Exchange Profile)
  • VTT (Web Video Text Track)
  • TXT (untimed text transcript)

What are you planning to do with this video after subtitles are added?

By the way, do you know what’s the difference between subtitles and closed captions? Check out our article: Subtitles vs. Captions: What’s the Difference?

Display subtitles with the video online:

Hosting PlatformBest Format

YouTubeWebVTTAll your formatting will
show on YouTube
VimeoWebVTTAll your formatting will
show on Vimeo
FacebookUnformatted SRTDoes not allow:
Positioning, special
characters, or
text formatting.
Make sure you don’t
use any of those
when making
subtitles on Amara
KalturaDFXPIf you use a custom video
player, make sure captions
are enabled
BrightcoveWebVTTAll your formatting will show on Brightcove

If you’re using a different hosting site, check the support documentation for that site to see which subtitling formats they support.

Display video and subtitles with a media player:

Media Player

Best Format


VLCSub Station Alpha or
Windows Media PlayerSRTUsually the only format
supported on basic media
Other common media
SRTUsually the only format
supported on basic media

Use subtitles in a video-editing tool:

Editing Tool

Best Format

Final Cut Pro ITT
Premiere Pro CCSCC or a Final Cut Pro XML export
ffmpegSub Station Alpha
MacCaption WebVTT or ITT
Sony Vegas, LightworksCheck software support documentation

Note – For Sony Vegas and Lightworks:

  • Many video editors only support manually creating title cards.
  • We recommend either adding the subtitles with a different video editor on a separate step, or checking with the software’s support and community for recent features or unofficial add-ons.

Tips and tricks:

1. Using other subtitling editing tools might erase some of the work you did on Amara. For example, editing subtitles in the YouTube editor gets rid of any top-positioning you might have done to subtitles made on Amara.

2. Always use a programming text editor like Notepad++, TextEdit (MacOS) or gedit (Linux) to open subtitle files. Using a standard text editor like Windows Notepad or a word processor with autocorrections (like Office Word) can alter formatting and render the file unusable.

3. When you need to download subtitles, make sure to save them directly to disk rather than let the browser open them with the default application. Otherwise, you might find that they weren’t saved when you need them.

4. Save time by setting up automatic subtitle export from Amara to the video platform of your choice. The Amara knowledge base has instructions for some of the most popular video sites around, including YouTube, Vimeo, Kaltura and Brightcove. Check out the links below:

Leave a comment if you have additional questions on subtitle formats, and if you need professional help with captioning, subtitle translation, or any subtitling needs, Amara can help. We have subtitling solutions that can help individuals and organizations of any size, including creating captions and subtitles for you.

9 thoughts on “What Subtitle File Format Should I Use?

  1. I have done a part of the video and wanted to export subtitles in SRT format. However, the timings are not correct. In fact, it says:

    99:59:59,999 –> 99:59:59,999
    Hello! And thank you for joining us today

    and it goes the same throughout the file. The same timings (99:59:59,999)

    Any suggestions? Have I done something wrong?

    Thank you in advance :)

    1. Hi Isidora,

      This is Erin from the Amara Support Center.

      If possible, can you send the following information to support@amara.org so that we can take a closer look at the subtitles:
      –the Amara URL for the video
      –your email address
      –your Amara user name

      Usually, a timing issue like what you describe can be resolved using the Clear Timings feature in the Editor (click on the Clock icon, then Clear timing). However, it is important to note that the will clear ALL the timing in the subtitles. Clear timing is a great tool to use when not a lot of syncing has already been done on the subtitles, and it may not be a suitable solution for all timing issues.

      Because of this, it is best to provide us with the Amara URL so that we can investigate further. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for a really useful article! While I was reading it, I was thinking that I definitely should keep this information because it is highly valuable.

    1. Good question! It depends on where your subtitles will be shown. Broadcast television in North America usually uses SCC (Scenarist Closed Caption) files. But if you are creating subtitles for online streaming television, the most simplest option would probably be SRT subtitles. I hope this helps! Happy subtitling!

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