10 Rules You Need to Create Great Captioned Videos

We have a new problem with videos. It’s sort of a good problem to have. With more do-it-yourself captioning software hitting the market, more people are captioning their videos. However, the options they select for their captions aren’t good quality and hurt the user experience.

When you watch captions for decades, you learn what works and what doesn’t work. The key to great captions is invisibility.

Invisibility? Meryl, are you kidding me? If they’re not there, how can you read them?

Not that kind of invisibility. Rather, they don’t clamor for my attention. They don’t have me noticing them and obsessing over their poor formatting.

If I notice something about the captions, that’s usually not a good sign.

Captions up top? I notice. (Unless it’s when the credits appear.)

Captions hard to read? I notice and quit watching.

These 10 rules for great captioned videos are based on experience. If you want to know how to caption videos, refer to the Captioned Guide. It contains Resources with captioning guidelines.

The text version of these videos are also in the Captioned Guide. I separated these to make the guide more manageable.

1. Readability

The No. 1 rule. If it’s broken, the rest don’t matter

2. Accuracy

Autocraptions break this rule

3. Synchronized

We notice when captions are out of sync without sound

4. Length

Yes, length matters in captions

5. Position

The majority of people prefer this position

6. Sound

The importance of sound

7. Credits

What to do when it comes to captions and credits

8. Voice

What is voice and why it matters captioned videos

9. Speaker

Here’s why speaker identification is important

10. Flow

Two types of captions: scrolling and pop-in

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