Provide captions for synchronized media and live events

Applicable Role(s): Content Creator


Captioning makes video and live events more inclusive for people who are deaf and/or have hearing deficiencies. It also helps users understand content if the surrounding environment makes the video hard to understand (like a noisy restaurant or concert), and can aid in learning by letting users follow the captions as they watch video.

Best Practices

Not sure if your media or event needs captions?

Use the Captioning Decision Tree to learn when captions are needed, and to request captioning services.

For captioning your own content:

Aim for shorter videos

Chunk your video material into short segments, rather than one long video. Providing shorter videos gives all viewers a chance to process information and decide when to move on to the next section.

Write a script

Using a script will make you talk clearer, slower, and keep you to the point at hand. Plus, a script will save you a lot of time and money that you would then need to put towards creating or paying for captions. You can also load the script into YouTube, where it will automatically be synced to the audio.

Consider your environment

If filming yourself, make sure you're in a quiet and plain environment with minimal disruptions. Viewers will focus more on what you're saying than what's happening around you.

Keep the bottom quarter of the screen clear

If you're doing a screencast or narrating a PowerPoint, try to keep the bottom of the screen clear so that you're not covering important info with the captions. Captions are typically displayed at the bottom of the screen and could potentially block visual information that would benefit all viewers.

Pattern Examples

There are a number of formats for creating captions, with one of the most common being sub-rip text (SRT) format.

Creating captions with SRT


Editors can create captions using a basic text editor and saving the file with the .srt  extension, if the player or software accepts SRT files (like YouTube or Vimeo). An SRT file contains 5 distinct features:

  1. A sequence number, to indicate the point in which certain captions should show up,
  2. Timecodes that are in hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds format,
  3. A two-hash arrow to separate the starting time and end time for a caption sequence to display,
  4. The caption text, using as many lines as needed to display (usually 2 at the most), and
  5. A blank line that separates each caption sequence.

Refer to the DCMP Captioning Key for specific caption practices, like line breaks, denoting music, speaker identification, etc.