How To Caption Video


Gonzaga University will have a variety of resources to assist in captioning videos.  Options generally will include:

  • Sending the video to a vendor for full captioning.
  • Sending the transcript and the video to a vendor for time-stamping (syncing).
  • Utilizing Gonzaga internal resources for either full captioning or time-stamping (syncing).
  • Self-completion of captioning. 

Resources and instructions for all of these options are listed below.

A transcript is simply a document of the spoken word.  A caption file is a transcript with the time stamps for the video.  Most caption files are plain text files with time codes indicating the start and stop times. However, there are various types of caption files with slight variations in their syntax. Once you have a caption file, the final step is to add this file to your video.

Standards for Creating Your Own Captioning

The standards used for video captioning are the US Access Board's Video and Multimedia standards for the provision of captions and audio descriptions and the DCMP Captioning Key guidelines for the captions themselves.

There are significant differences in captioning methods.

  • “Closed Captioning” is defined as synchronized humanly perfected verbatim transcripts
  • Voice recognition transcription is an automatic process completed by software.  This method frequently contains significant errors in the transcripts.

Captions should:

  • Contain no more than two lines of text at one time, with around 32 characters per line of sans serif font.
  • Show for no less than 2 seconds; and aim for 120-130 words per minute presentation rate.
  • Identify speaker names or identifiers followed by a colon and the dialogue (ex:  “John: What do you mean?”)
  • Indicate meaningful silences (ex:  “Mother: Where have you been? Son: (silence)”)
  • Indicate sounds in brackets: [horns honking], [wind whistling], [music], [awkward silence], [people shouting over each other]
  • Indicate unknown sounds or words with several question marks (ex: “John: I'm going to the ???”)
  • Use bold, italic or underline features (ex: "That was REALLY cool!", "WHAT?")
  • Use multiple parenthesis to indicate timid or whispered words (ex: “Girl: (((I'm scared)))”)
  • Use "..." when the dialogue is muffled or too low to discern (ex: "I didn’t mean to hurt him, I …………… I was defending myself.")
  • Accurately transcribe language so viewers understand language register (ex: "I told Johnny I was gonna get him for beatin' me in the race today.  Cuz I was mad. I wanted to win…")

Free tools available online make it possible and easy to caption your own video. See Captioning your own video for free for additional information.

Additional resources for working with individuals with visual impairments: