Subtitle formats can seem pretty complicated. It may seem easiest to just choose whatever format is most popular or widely supported, instead of the one that’s just right for 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.

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

  • 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?


Display subtitles with the video online:
Hosting PlatformBest Format
Info

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

Info

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

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.

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One thought on “What subtitle file format should I use?

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