What is Closed Captioning?

Closed captioning (CC) is a term used in the United States and Canada to describe text shown on a television or other video display. Unlike subtitles, closed captions can be enabled or disabled according to the viewer’s preferences, and the text includes more than just dialogue. 

A caption may also describe sound effects, musical interludes, and other important details that would normally require audio. Where subtitles are used to aid viewers who don’t speak a particular language, closed captions can be enabled when audio is muted or the viewer is hard of hearing. In the rest of the world, subtitles and captions are interchangeable terms. 

Why are the captions “closed”?

This term refers to the fact that captions can be enabled or disabled, usually with a button on the remote control. On the other hand, “open” captions are always on the screen and cannot be removed. The text is “burned in”, which means it is inseparable from the overall picture.  

How to Add Closed Captions to a YouTube Video:

  1. Before visiting YouTube, you’ll need to create a caption file for your video. To do this, open a basic text program like TextEdit or Notepad. Formatting the file is easy. Just put a blank line between text to start a new caption, start a line with the symbol “>>” for new dialogue (ex. >> TOM: Houston, we have a problem.), and use brackets for any sound effects (ex. [chirping birds]). Make sure to save it as a .txt file.  
  2. Next, log into your YouTube account and find the “My Videos” section. Then select the video that you’d like to add captions to. 
  3. Below the video, you’ll see a row of icons that have different editing functions. Click on the “Captions” icon (it’s a box with the letters “CC” inside). 
  4. Now you’ll be able to upload a caption file by clicking “Add New Caption and Transcript”, choosing “caption file” as the file type, and selecting “English” for the track language. Then click the “Upload” button and choose your caption file. The captions should now be integrated into your video — just click the “CC” icon or choose “Subtitles/CC” from the Settings menu. 

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