We put together this quick guide on how to create subtitles for a video. We talk a lot about subtitles on this blog: the history, the differences, and the details. And all of that is interesting (to us, and probably to you, too, since you’re reading our blog). But it’s also great to take some time to walk through the practical steps of how to subtitle videos. So we won’t take up too much of your time with definitions before we get into the real stuff.

Closed captions are a pretty English-centric term that means subtitles created in the same language as the video. Subtitles is used more globally to refer to text that captures the speech in a video. We will be using both in this article, but they all mean the same thing: accessibility. Read on to learn more!

Why add captions to my video?

How can adding captions to your video help you get discovered? We’ll tell you!

  • Videos with captions are more searchable, so people can find you more easily. The text information in closed captioning is an additional way for search engines to find your content and put it in front of the people trying to find it. Knowing how to add closed captioning to a video can give you an immediate SEO boost for your content.
  • Most social media videos are viewed on mute. Get your viewer’s attention with engaging subtitles in the first few seconds of video before they scroll away! Closed caption videos put your words front-and-center for your audience, even while they are passively scrolling through their feed.
  • Subtitles make your video more accessible to d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and people with auditory processing issues. Many people with ADHD, for example, prefer watching videos with captions turned on so that they don’t miss anything that is said.
  • Subtitles make your video easier to understand, even with difficult audio or background noise that can distract from your message.
  • Add captions to your video to easily increase engagement. When working with multimedia elements like video and audio, adding another medium (captions) might catch someone’s eye more than any one medium by itself.

Add video to Amara

Anyone can join Amara and create a free account. To get started subtitling videos, first you need some videos to subtitle! You can check out the Amara Public Workspace or join an open volunteer team if you are ready to create subtitles for video. After creating an Amara Account:

  1. Go to the Amara Public Workspace
  2. Click the Your Videos tab
  3. Click the Add Videos button
  4. Copy and paste the URL from the public hosting site
Add Video to Amara Public dialog box with 4 areas highlighted: Amara Public Workspace, Your Videos, Add video, and Video URL

Videos you submit to Amara’s public workspace:

  • Should not have copyright issues or sensitive information 
  • Should be set to public so other users can view them

After you locate the video you want to caption, it’s time to learn how to caption videos on Amara.

How can I make subtitles on Amara?

Here is a quick guide on how to caption a video on Amara. We’ll get into more detail below, but if you’re in a rush to get your subtitles done, we understand!

If you are still not sure how to do closed captioning, here is a quickstart guide on how to close caption a video with tips on quality, formatting, and synchronizing.

In the Amara Public Workspace, you can see all of the videos you have added. Click on the video that you want to work on and go to the video page. Then click the Add/Edit subtitles button to start subtitling videos.

Select the language for your subtitles and click the Add button to enter the Amara Editor.

The Amare Editor allows you to start working right away, typing along as the video plays. 

There are several built-in editing tools like keyboard shortcuts and bulk edits that are available and free. The most common keyboard shortcuts are shown in the top left corner. Click on the more commands >> link to view the full list.

You can start, stop, control video speed, undo or redo edits and more in the free Amara Editor. Get to know Amara’s time-saving editing and syncing features. You don’t need to know these advanced features to start adding closed captioning to video, but they’re neat to check out for our more advanced subtitlers out there!

How can I use my completed subtitles?

From your free Amara account, you can download video closed captions or subtitle files for use on your computer. Read our article on which subtitle file format you should use to get an idea on where to start before you download. Different file types are better for different situations like using your subtitles on your desktop or on a specific online platform.

Amara Free also allows you to automatically export to both YouTube and Vimeo. Set up your integration with these video platforms from your Account page. After you set up your integration, when subtitles are complete they will automatically export and update on the original video platform. Here are some helpful guides on setting up automatic subtitle export on YouTube and Vimeo.

What if I already have a subtitle file?

Amara supports uploading SRT, SSA, SBV, DFXP, TXT, and VTT file formats. You can upload a subtitle file to Amara to edit, update, or export it for further use. After you open the Amara Editor, click the wrench icon at the top of the typing space and select Upload subtitles. Then you can use the Amara Editor to make the necessary edits and export or download them when you are finished.

What if I want to edit my video and subtitles in the same place?

Maybe subtitling video is not enough of a challenge for you. Or maybe you are short on time and the editing bay did not cut out that scene you all agreed was dragging. It’s important to know your subtitling tool and the options it offers. Amara, for example, does not host videos directly and is primarily focused on creating and editing subtitles. If you are looking for a two-in-one combination to edit both your video and its subtitles, you could try Veed. They provide a sample editor with video and subtitles for you to try out their features.

It’s important to know what your final product needs to look like. On Veed, for example, subtitles are automatically set to burn-in on video export. This means that the subtitles are rendered as part of the video file and can’t be turned off by the viewer. There are positives and negatives to using burned-in captions, as you can read in our article about comparing open and closed captions. Understanding the tools and features of your subtitle editor is essential in creating an easy workflow!

Here is a handy list of other captioning tools to try out! Get to know what features are must-haves for your workflow and find the right fit!

What if I don’t want to make the captions myself?

Many social media platforms have automatic caption features, like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you decide to use automatic captions, just make sure that you review them before publishing. Speech recognition software has come a long way since its start, but errors still happen. Make sure that you use automatic captioning responsibly so that your audience doesn’t miss out on the benefits of captioned videos!

You can also check out a professional transcription and translation team, like our in-house localization team Amara On Demand.

How can I create quality captions?

So you’ve found a subtitle editor, but now what? If you’ve never created captions or subtitles before check out our quickstart guide on how to add closed captioning to video. We also have a guide on subtitling video while translating the spoken language. We hope that these guides help make subtitling video easier for you. They both give tips on creating high quality captions and subtitles for your video with a human-centered focus. It’s up to you to make your audience’s experience fun and frustration-free! Quality captions can go a long way in doing that. We hope that you can walk away from this post feeling more confident in how to make subtitles for your content. 

Happy subtitling!

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