Master Captions and Subtitles for Your Distribution Strategy

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Why Do I Need Captions for Distribution?

Captions are an integral part of your distribution process. They provide text on-screen for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Foreign subtitles help viewers who want to enjoy content in their native language. If you’re not sure about the power of captions, check out these stats: 

  • 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound
  • 80% of caption users aren’t deaf or hard of hearing
  • Captions increase engagement, watch time, shares, and clicks

This means if you’ve got a video, short film, or movie trailer online, your audience will expect closed captions to enjoy your content when muted. Needless to say, captions are necessary to ensure your work is accessible and enjoyable for all.

The terms ‘subtitle’ and ‘caption’ are often used interchangeably in the industry. For the purposes of this article, here’s a quick primer on the differences between them:

  • Closed captions display spoken English dialogue and other important audio cues as text on-screen. They can be enabled by the viewer during playback on their media device. In the U.S., these typically refer to what is universally known as English subtitles.
  • Open captions, or burn-in subtitles typically refer to the text that is always visible on a video because it is rendered as part of the video itself.
  • Foreign subtitles can come in the form of closed captions or (burn-in) open captions and the same rules apply depending on how you use them.

Why You Should Use Open Captions

If you’re posting videos on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok you should consider using (burn-in) open captions. Here are some benefits of using open captions:

  • Open captions are always visible, even when closed captions aren’t supported
  • Viewers don’t have to turn the captions on themselves
  • Offer complete control over the style and placement of the caption text
  • Burn-in foreign subtitles for easier global distribution 

Try Open Captions for Free from

How Do I Get Professional Captions and Subtitles?

While captions and subtitles are essential, it’s not required for you to make them yourself (or hire an in-house captioner). You can use a subtitle and caption provider like Rev to get you the caption files you need to distribute your work.

With Rev, you know you’re going to be getting the most accurate captions on the market.

It’s important to note the difference between captions created by a human captioner and auto-generated captions you might find on the major video sharing platforms. Only captions created by trained professionals are going to be accepted by broadcasters and streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. So, don’t rely on AI for your distribution strategy.

What Caption File Formats Do I Need?

There are several caption file formats out there, and not all are created equal. If you’re looking to submit your captions to OTTs and meet certain broadcast standards, you’ll want to get your captions in the Scenarist (.SCC) file format which can be used for CEA-608 and CEA-708 streams.

If you primarily post videos online, Subrip Subtitle Format (.SRT), Scenarist (.SCC), or WebVTT (.vtt) will likely be your best bet. The best format to use for custom or stylized captions is the .SCC file format.

  • .SCC is widely used for broadcast and streaming
  • .SRT is popular for online videos

If you ever need your captions in other formats, simply re-download them in the desired extension from the Rev Caption Editor, or convert an existing caption file in the Rev Caption Converter, at no cost to you.

How to Use Caption Files For Distribution

When Rev completes a caption order, you get back a sidecar caption file in whatever format(s) you need. These files are ready to upload to video sharing sites as closed-captions or foreign subtitles that the viewer can turn on or off during playback on sites like YouTube.

Below are how-to guides on uploading captions to the major online video platforms:

Style Subtitles and Open Captions

If you want to stylize the subtitles for your project, then you will need to work with your caption file in video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro. Whether you plan to style your closed captions or (burn-in) open captions, here’s a quick primer on what you can adjust in Premiere:

  • For Closed Captions: Text, Text alignment, Italicize, underline, background color, text color, placement (position)
  • Additional for Open Captions: Font, Font Size, Edge, Line Spacing, Opacity

Here’s a video tutorial series that explains in-depth how to customize your captions in Premiere:


To learn how to edit your captions in other non-linear editing platforms, check out the guides below:
Note: Your online video platform will ultimately determine what caption styles will display. (For example, sites like YouTube can some styling when you upload .SCC closed captions).

How to Quickly Make (Burn-In) Open Captions For Your Videos

If you want to quickly create burn-in captions for your videos (and avoid going back into editing mode), fear not! Rev now offers an open captions feature that is currently in Beta. 

With Rev Open Captions, you can:

  • Have your captions and subtitles automatically “burned-in” to your videos
  • Save time editing caption and subtitle files in editing software

If you’re interested in trying out this feature, then join our Burned-In Captions beta program today!

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