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:
- 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?
- Display subtitles with the video online
- Display videos and subtitles with a media player
- Use subtitles in a video-editing tool
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 Platform||Best Format|| |
|YouTube||WebVTT||All your formatting will |
show on YouTube
|Vimeo||WebVTT||All your formatting will |
show on Vimeo
|Unformatted SRT||Does not allow:|
Make sure you don’t
use any of those
subtitles on Amara
|Kaltura||DFXP||If you use a custom video |
player, make sure captions
|Brightcove||WebVTT||All 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|| Info|
|VLC||Sub Station Alpha or |
|Windows Media Player||SRT||Usually the only format |
supported on basic media
|Other common media |
|SRT||Usually the only format |
supported on basic media
Use subtitles in a video-editing tool:
|Final Cut Pro||ITT|
|Premiere Pro CC||SCC or a Final Cut Pro XML export|
|ffmpeg||Sub Station Alpha|
|MacCaption||WebVTT or ITT|
|Sony Vegas, Lightworks||Check 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:
- Automatic subtitle export to YouTube
- Automatic subtitle export to Vimeo
- Automatic subtitle export to Kaltura
- Automatic subtitle export to Brightcove
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.