Unveiling the Distinctions Between Captions and Subtitles – Purpose and Use Cases

The internet is used all over the world to watch online videos or movies. These can be for entertainment or educational purposes. People watch these videos for everyday use or to learn something new.

Now that more and more people are watching videos online, there are some features that are coming up to enhance their experience. Adding captions is one such feature.

Under this feature, you can add captions to your video. There are two types of captions that you can add to your video: open captions and closed captions. We suggest figuring out what is the difference between Closed Captioning and Subtitles from vidby.com. Both are captions but have many differences, which are mentioned below along with other information.

Open and closed captions

Subtitles vs. Captions movies

An open caption is a unique caption type that does not give viewers the option to close it, viewers have no choice, and it is presented in one format. Hidden captions are types of captions that can be disabled as there is a choice whether to view them or not, and they have different formats.

Open subtitles are the type of subtitles that can be added to any file, as they are supported by all file formats and streams.

They are permanent; therefore, they cannot be changed or deleted once they are added directly to a video file. They are mostly used in offline videos and television programs.

Hidden titles are those that can be seen in the video as CC on the side of the video.

Downloading subtitles is generally a straightforward process, given the variety of available formats. However, a common challenge arises when these downloaded subtitles are incompatible with certain file formats. This limitation can be frustrating for users who wish to enhance their media experience with subtitles but find that the files they obtain cannot be seamlessly integrated with their chosen media players or content, thus creating a hurdle in achieving the desired accessibility and comprehension.

But technology is improving and now most file formats support subtitles.

What are open captions?

This type of captioning does not give viewers a choice; therefore, the viewer has no option to turn them off. They are advantageous for the following reasons:

  • They are supported by all file types; therefore, there is no problem in selecting them as an option. This is the best option when closed captioning is not supported and you want to add subtitles to increase the reach of the content.
  • It is also beneficial when the viewer is not familiar with the technology and finds it difficult to enable subtitles in case of closed captioning. Therefore, by providing open captions, this problem is solved.
  • Another advantage is that the font style and color of the captions can be chosen before uploading them to the content, which further attracts more viewers.

The main disadvantage of this type of captions is that in some cases, they block the viewer from watching the video and when the viewer wants to turn them off, he is unable to do so. This further contributes to his negative reaction to the content. Also, the quality of the caption is related to the quality of the video. Therefore, a poor quality video means poor quality captions.

What is closed captioning?

closed Captions

This is a type of caption that the user can turn on and off. This is also one of the main reasons why they are widely used on major social platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

The main advantages of this type of caption is that it can be easily changed at any time. They are also supported by many types of file formats, which increases the reach of the videos and makes them easier to watch.

Along with all the above mentioned advantages, there are also disadvantages

caption settings on YouTube

In the event that an individual lacks familiarity with the technology, operating the subtitles feature, both enabling and disabling it, can prove to be a challenging task. This difficulty arises due to the intricate menu options and settings that are often not intuitively accessible, potentially causing frustration and hindering the overall viewing experience for those in need of subtitles or captions.

Therefore, adding subtitles to it depends on the type and need of the content. Subtitles, primarily designed for viewers who do not understand the language spoken in the video, provide a translation of the dialogue and sometimes relevant sounds. Subtitles are like language bridges that allow people to understand and enjoy content from different countries.

They provide a written translation of the dialogue and sounds in a movie or TV show. This is especially helpful for foreign films or series, as it allows global audiences to follow along and appreciate the story. Subtitles also benefit those with hearing impairments by providing a text representation of spoken words and sound effects. It ensures that everyone can fully enjoy the content, regardless of their ability to hear.

On the other hand, captions are mainly designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They provide not only dialogue but also descriptions of non-verbal sounds like laughter or music. This creates a more immersive experience and allows individuals to fully understand and appreciate the audio aspects of the content.


Captions are also required by law in many countries to ensure accessibility and inclusivity in media. They make it possible for people with hearing impairments to enjoy movies, TV shows, and other forms of media.

Understanding the differences between subtitles and captions is important for content creators, distributors, and consumers. It enables a more inclusive and versatile viewing experience.

Whether you’re someone who enjoys foreign films with subtitles for better understanding or someone who relies on captions for accessibility, these features play a crucial role in making media more accessible and enjoyable for a diverse audience.

With advancements in technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning, automated captioning and subtitling services are becoming more accurate and efficient. This further breaks down barriers to accessibility and enhances the viewing experience for everyone.