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How to Make Subtitle Videos

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Sep 05, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Subtitles are very common for people who watch videos very often. It is simply the text or dialogue usually displayed at the base of the screen of a video. We often use subtitles to watch movies or television programs, play video games, etc. The subtitle makes all the difference when you are watching a video in a language different from the one you know and understand.

A lot of videos will be really difficult to watch when there is no knowledge of the language which the producers used in creating the video. That is where the need for subtitles is seen. It breaks language barriers to publicity of a video i.e it tries to bridge that gap of understanding that exists when you watch a video. It also assists in as little as helping you understand a video that is recorded in a language you speak but in a different accent. An American might find it a bit difficult to understand the accent used in a British movie. So basically, what subtitles do is make understanding better and easier.

In this article
  1. Types of Subtitle Videos
  2. Subtitle Formats
  3. What Are Subtitles Used For
  4. Subtitle Tips and Tricks

1.    Types of Subtitle Videos

There are two (2) broad types of subtitling

  1. Open Subtitles
  2. Closed subtitles

Open Subtitles

Open subtitles are subtitles that are included and incorporated as part of the original video and cannot be removed from the screen. No additional program or tool is required before they are activated and ready for use. Also, no additional tool is needed to edit or remove it. This is because they are part and parcel of the original video and cannot be edited. They are rooted in the original video as part of it and not just as an extension. An example of where it is used is karaoke. These subtitles cannot be switched on and off by the user.

Close Subtitles

Closed subtitles are more malleable than open subtitles. It is relatively easier to add or remove when compared to the open subtitles. They are substantially separate from the original video. They are usually encoded in the transmission signal of the cable or satellite technology and sent separately from the original broadcast, in this case, video. This makes it possible to remove it from the video. They are mostly found on DVDs.

Other classifications sometimes include a third known as soft subtitles. They usually need player support to work effectively. They are the easiest to use because of the flexibility in adding and editing.

2.    Subtitle Formats

Subtitle formats are often represented funnily. You see extensions like .srt, .sub, .stl, .mtv, etc. They are the extensions of different subtitle formats. Let’s talk about some of them.

SubRip: This is one of the most common formats for subtitles. Its extension is ‘.srt’ and they are also the most widely used by modern video subtitling technology. It is stored sequentially along a line with its basic timing and in a human-readable format.

SubViewer: The sub viewer format is another popular subtitle format. It stores information about periods with tag information. Its extension is ‘.sub’.

Micro DVD: This subtitle format is compatible with digital videos. They equally carry the ‘. sub’ extension.

Spruce subtitle format: They usually operate in sequential periods and frames. They have the ‘.stl’ format.

3.    What Are Subtitles Used For?

Now that we’ve known what subtitles are and the various formats they exist in, let’s take a deeper dive into what they’re used for.


You’re probably wondering what marketing is doing at the top of this list. If you work in a multi-national company which branches in different countries and continents, you will find subtitles very helpful in promotional videos for your company. On the other hand, you may not work in a multi-national company but have your business in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria, New Guinea, Chad, etc. instead of creating videos in all the languages which apply to the people you hope to reach, you can produce one video, add subtitles for the various languages and save cost.


Educational videos can be produced alongside subtitles in various languages to aid learning, especially for campuses that attract foreign students who might have little to no knowledge of how to speak the language of the school.

Understanding better deaf people:

Subtitle for Deaf or hard-of-hearing (SDH) was introduced by the movie industry specifically made for people with hearing deficiencies. This allows them access to information they would normally be unable to hear or listen to.


As already mentioned earlier, some videos are produced in languages other than the ones we understand. Subtitles help to understand what is being said in the video irrespective of the language in which it was originally produced.

Low-quality speakers:

Watching a video with low quality or faulty speakers can be a bit frustrating without subtitles.

Watching videos in a noisy environment:

We have all been in places that are noisy and we have had the need to watch a video or listen to an audio file. Subtitles come in handy at this point. They are also useful when we do not want to distract others while watching a video.

Learn foreign languages:

Subtitles are a very good way to learn new languages, sometimes consciously, other times it happens with any conscious effort. While watching a movie discovered ‘Lo Siento' means I’m sorry in Spanish while ‘Arigatou’ means ‘thank you in Japanese.

Reading speed:

If you want to improve your reading speed, subtitles equally help you do that.

4.    Subtitle Tips and Tricks

Subtitle software applications let you add captions to videos, edit them, translate them to languages of your choice, etc. Let us look at a few of them below:

Subtitle Edit:

Subtitle Edit is largely free software that allows users to create timecoded subtitles. Users can also import and convert subtitles from one format to another format. If you’re new to subtitling, this is a good place to start before moving up to other advanced software applications.

Annotation Edit:

Annotation Edit is another application but it is specific to mac users. It has a very good user-friendly interface which makes it easy software to use.

Other software applications are equally very useful in subtitling.

When creating subtitles, ensure they are automated so as not to make it difficult to read when certain colors are displayed on the screen. Timing is very important. Make sure the subtitle is properly synchronized with the actual sound being produced.

Use a user-friendly font style. Each font style is unique for each viewing and it speaks volumes of what the video has to say or the message it wants to pass. So, it is expedient to learn more about font style, font color, font size etc. for a better-subtitled video.

The Bottom Line

Subtitled videos are more likely to be used than videos without subtitles. So as a content creator, entrepreneur or in any field where you work with videos, adding a subtitle to your videos could be the turning point even for your organization for a wider audience.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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