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It’s a great idea to add closed captions to your video if you want to reach the widest audience possible.
Captions have been designed for people who are hard of hearing, but it has also grown in popularity with everyday viewers.
In this easy-to-follow step-by-step guide, I will show you how to create and export a .srt file, which is the standard for closed captions on most video platforms.
I will also show you how to add the .srt file to some of the most popular social media platforms.
Closed captions vs. subtitles
Closed captions and subtitles are similar in that both show text on screen, but both are used for different purposes. You can learn more about the differences in this article here, but let’s review a basic explanation.
Subtitles are typically used to translate a foreign language into English so the audience can understand what is being said.
Closed captions are like subtitles, but are presented during an entire film or video with both spoken words and important sounds.
Captions do not have to be in a foreign language. Captions are designed for people who are hard of hearing so they can understand everything that is happening on screen.
We’re not going to touch on subtitles in this article, but the process would be very similar.
How to create an srt file
As mentioned earlier, the .srt file is the standard file used for captions on most video platforms. This can be done manually or by using a third-party service.
We’re going to focus on the manual method, but a service like Rev.com is a great alternative. Rev will create a .srt file that can be imported into Premiere for $1.50 per minute as of the time this article was written.
Let’s create the caption file manually in a few easy steps.
1. Create a new caption track
Move into Premiere’s designated Captions workspace Window > Workspaces > Captions.
There will be a few options to choose from to create the caption file: Transcribe sequences, Create new caption track, and Import captions from file.
We will use Create new caption track for this demonstration.
2. Choose Caption Track settings
A new dialogue popup window will appear after selecting Create new caption track.
The standard Format for closed captions is CEA-708, so it will be best to select this option. This will depend on your region, but this is the standard in the United States.
The dropdown menu for Stream will also have several options: Service 1-6. Service 1 is used for the primary captions, so we will use this for our file. Service 2 and so on is used for secondary languages.
You can create custom Styles to be reused in the future, but we will leave this box checked at None.
3. Add new captions segment
Align your playhead where you want the caption to start on the main timeline. To create a new caption, select Add new captions segment. This will create a new section at the top of your timeline for the captions.
4. Add and edit text
In the Captions window, you can type in the spoken words or sound effects of importance.
Once complete, you can adjust the duration of the caption the same way you would adjust any piece of media on the timeline. You can see on the image above the caption will appear the same way as a normal text file.
You can also change any of the available text properties that are shown in the essential graphics panel.
5. Add additional captions
To add another caption, simply right-click on the current caption and select Add caption after. Repeat for all of the captions.
How to Export an srt file
Exporting a .srt file inside of Premiere Pro is simple. The two primary methods for exporting a caption file are to either burn them directly into the video (otherwise known as Open Captions) or create a separate sidecar file.
We will focus on creating a separate sidecar file as this is more common.
Go to Premiere’s export window by using the keyboard shortcut Mac CMD+M or Windows CTRL+M.
Select your desired video settings and then move into the Captions tab near the center of your screen.
In the Export options, simply select Create Sidecar file.
Export the video like normal. You should see both the video file and .srt file in the designated export location.
Now it’s time to upload your .srt file to your SoMe platform of choice. Uploading the .srt file to social media is very simple. Let’s look at a few:
How to upload an srt file to YouTube
You will first need to upload your video to YouTube. Select Video details and then Subtitles on the left side of the screen.
Hit the blue Add Language button and select your desired language. Select Add under Subtitles on the right side of the screen.
A large pop-up will appear. You can upload the .srt file by selecting Upload file. Be sure to select With Timing so your captions will match the spoken dialogue.
The captions will then appear on the bottom timeline of the main popup window. You can adjust any of the captions if needed.
How to upload an srt file to Facebook
Facebook will be a similar process as YouTube. First, you will need to upload your video to the platform. Select the video from the Video page once uploaded.
Select this three-dot icon circled in red above. This will be located in the post section of the video. Select Edit video from the dropdown menu.
A new popup will appear with the video. Select the Edit button circled in red above.
A new popup will appear with the option to Add Captions. You can upload the .srt file using the Upload button under the Add Captions dropdown menu. Save once the upload is complete.
How to upload an srt file to Linkedin
First, upload your video. You can do this directly on the feed at the top of the page. Click Select Video to share on the next window and select the video inside of your designated folder.
A new popup window will appear. At the bottom, you can hit Select Caption and upload your .srt file. Select Done once you are finished.
The process will be very similar to the three above. If you are confused, these websites should have a section outlining the proper steps to take with uploading the caption file.
Alex is a certified Adobe Premiere Pro video editor and independent filmmaker in the US. He is most known for writing, directing, and editing his debut feature film, Cashing Out, which has won multiple awards at film festivals across the US. Currently, Alex is the owner of AWS FILMS and works as a freelance video editor for several large companies and content creators.