Why good subtitles are essential
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Most people don’t fully appreciate the power of subtitles. They assume that subtitles exist primarily for two purposes: to make foreign language content understandable and to assist those with hearing impairments. But these are only the two best known reasons for subtitling your content.
So, why don’t most people take all those other reasons into consideration? For one thing, they know that creating captions and subtitles manually is a time- and resource-intensive endeavor. And yet, with Scriptix, you don’t have to create them by hand. Our program automatically transcribes your video content, so you can benefit from subtitles without the hassle.
What’s the other reason people don’t consider the full potential of subtitles? They simply don’t know how beneficial they are. And that’s why we’ve put together this list of seven reasons why having good subtitles is essential.
- Offer a better, more consistent viewing experience
Subtitled content empowers viewers to have a better, more consistent viewing experience. If you’re watching a video that has dramatically different sound levels, you can turn on the subtitles and enjoy it without having to change the volume every time the on-screen action shifts. Or consider the fact that many modern films have dialogue audio that struggles under the weight of too many tracks. This has frustrated many viewers since they can’t make out the actors’ and actresses’ words. Fortunately, with subtitles, this isn’t a problem.
Subtitles and captions don’t just help you with audio that isn’t mixed well though. It can also allow viewers to enjoy content if they’re in sound-sensitive or particularly noisy environments. For example, riding public transportation is convenient and cost-effective, but it’s not the best place to consume video content. With subtitles, you can watch videos without interrupting those around you or struggling to hear what’s being said over the sound of surrounding conversations.
Beyond this, subtitles make it easier to watch videos that include complicated terminology, unusual dialects, and uncommon names. These kinds of unfamiliar words and speech patterns can be difficult to understand and keep straight. By providing visual subtitles, viewers have the benefit of getting another one of the five senses involved. This dramatically increases intelligibility, memorability, and overall comprehension. So, whether your videos are overloaded with sound tracks or filled with strange words and dialects, creating subtitles for them will ensure your viewers get a better, more consistent viewing experience.
- Improve literacy skills and reading comprehension
Research from around the world has shown that captions have the ability to boost literacy and reading comprehension. And this isn’t just true of teachers who show their students videos that include captions. There are over one-hundred empirical studies that have shown the benefit of captions for every demographic, from children to adults. Captions have been proven to boost the attention to, comprehension of, and memory of video content. And while this is true of videos that are in the viewer’s native language, it’s even truer for foreign language learners.
In addition to helping with reading comprehension, captions can also help students in several ways, including expanding their vocabulary. When hearing new words, it’s easy to misunderstand and misinterpret what’s being said. But when those new words are accompanied by text captions, they become clearer. They also give the viewer an opportunity to stop the video, look it up in a dictionary, or write it down. This is an especially helpful tool for teachers who want to introduce vocabulary or language concepts in the context of real life conversations. And since it’s so easy to find captioned video content, they’ll never run out of great material to use. Plus, they can use a service like Scriptix to add accurate subtitles to any content they create for their classes.
- Connect viewers with foreign cultures and languages
Learning a second language is one of those things that most people would like to do – but which can seem too daunting to actually achieve. After all, there’s countless vocabulary words to learn, new grammar rules to follow, and unfamiliar sounds to get used to. These challenges hold back countless would-be language learners and global travelers.
Fortunately, captions can play an important role in an effective language learning strategy. If you’re going to really learn a language, you’ll need to immerse yourself in it as much as possible. After all, a good textbook can only take you so far. Fortunately, subtitled video content can give you an infinite number of resources to hone your language skills. And with Scriptix, it’s never been easier to create subtitles.
Studies have shown tremendous benefits to watching content in your target language while reading subtitles in the same language. This gets more than just your ears working, and it leads to a greater association of the language’s sounds with the way it’s written. In addition, it’s a great way to learn those vocabulary words effortlessly since you’ll see and hear them in context at the same time. Once you’ve got a decent grasp on the language you want to learn, subtitled video content is the best way to practice short of having a conversation with a native speaker.
But that’s not the only benefit that subtitles offer the aspiring international traveler. They also open up a mountain of video content that would normally only be accessible to those who speak the language fluently. This allows you to watch the kind of content that reveals cultural practices and ideas before you fully understand the language. And because of this, it connects you to the culture in a unique way.
- Improve your site’s SEO and accessibility
Successful websites are built on quality SEO and thoughtful accessibility. And surprisingly, subtitles and captions can help on both fronts.
If you’ve got video content on your website, you need to have it transcribed with Scriptix. Once you have the transcription, you can use it to improve your SEO score in several different ways. For example, you can embed the video onto a post and include the transcription below it. The transcription is sure to include plenty of valuable keywords for search engines to notice. On the other hand, you can simply create captions for your video and get much the same effect. While search engines won’t be able to listen to your video for keywords and phrases, they can comb through the subtitles. So, by including accurate subtitles in your video content, you’ll ensure that your SEO score goes up and more people visit your site organically.
In addition to getting a boosted SEO score, subtitles also increase the accessibility of your site. If you get deaf or hearing impaired on your website, subtitling your content will allow them to access it like everyone else. Subtitles also make your content more accessible for people who are in noisy environments or in situations where they can’t play your video’s audio. And subtitling it is easy with Scriptix. We can create an accurate, automatically generated transcription that can then be incorporated into your video as subtitles.
- Enhance educational endeavors
Subtitles are a great tool for all kinds of students – and not just for the way they can improve literacy. Students in high school and college can take advantage of subtitled content in a number of other valuable ways.
Many modern schools are providing online lectures and other educational content for students to watch at their leisure. If those lectures are subtitled, students can access them in more places. They can improve their memory of the content by watching and listening at the same time. And as we noted earlier, they can pause the video and look up words and terms that are unfamiliar. But there is another, even more creative way that subtitles can be used to enhance education.
If a school chooses to provide students with pre-recorded lectures and other educational content, they can have everything automatically transcribed with Scriptix. Then, they can create captions for those videos that allow them to be archived. Once they’re safely archived, students can search it for specific words and phrases. This makes it possible to make educational content more available than ever before.
- Boost average watch time and video engagement
It’s well known among digital marketers that subtitles can provide a major boost to video engagement online. There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of captions for user engagement.
For example, Facebook’s metrics reveal that 85% of video content is watched without sound. So, when captions are added to a video, view time is increased by an average of 12%. Another recent study found that viewers are 80% likelier to watch a video to completion when the video included captions. To put it simply, subtitles will draw viewers in, keep them longer, and lead to higher levels of engagement.
- Empower you to repurpose content quickly and easily
If you’re a content creator, then you know the challenges that come with releasing quality content on a regular schedule. Fortunately, there is a way to multiply your efforts and increase your audience by repurposing content.
Imagine doing research, writing a script, and producing a video for YouTube. By the time you’re finished, you’ve spent hours getting it perfect. And you’ll enjoy a significant reach if that’s as far as you go. But what if you were to take that video and have it transcribed through a service like
- Ensure adherence to digital accessibility regulations
Many organizations are required by law to adhere to certain digital accessibility regulations. This is especially true for public institutions, including governmental agencies, local municipalities, and many within the legal system. For these institutions, subtitles aren’t just a nice extra. They’re a legal requirement.
By subtitling public content like council meetings, public organizations ensure that their data and services are accessible to all interested parties. Hearing disabilities shouldn’t hinder a citizen from knowing what is going on in the halls of his government. And with subtitles, they don’t have to.
Creating effective subtitles isn’t as simple as throwing words up onto the screen. Presentation matters. So, when adding captions or subtitles to your content, be sure to pay attention to the following…
Depending on the content you’re subtitling, speech speed can vary wildly. Children’s shows and documentaries often move slower, giving viewers plenty of time to take in each sentence. On the other hand, television programs and movies can sometimes include rapid-fire dialogue that barely gives viewers a chance to catch their breath. So, how quickly can you show subtitles without losing your audience? Studies have shown that people prefer subtitles that don’t exceed 170 WPM (words per minute). The sweet spot is right around 145 WPM. Go too much faster than that and you’ll lose your viewers. Go too much slower and they’ll lose focus.
Subtitles should make your content clear and intelligible. That’s why it’s important to provide line-breaks at natural locations. Ideally, you’ll want to start new lines at punctuation, like periods, commas, and semicolons. However, if you have to add a line-break elsewhere, do your best to keep it from dividing closely connected parts of speech. Putting it after a verb is usually the safest route to take. Failing to take line-breaks into account can create confusion for your viewers and leave them scrambling to decode what people on-screen are trying to say.
Human touchWhile technology has made it possible to automatically generate fairly accurate subtitles, they may not be perfect. That’s why it’s important to edit any generated subtitles, adding a human touch as you go. You’ll want to make sure that everything accurately matches the spoken content, especially for areas where dialogue is fast-paced or barely intelligible. In addition, you should go through and check for any areas where the formatting is off or placement is awkward. You don’t want your subtitles getting in the way of other important content on the screen like graphics, people’s faces, etc. Going through and editing things ensures that your subtitles don’t look like they were created by a machine – even if they were.
Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearingAlthough many people with hearing disabilities take advantage of hearing aids, research has shown that they aren’t ideal for viewing video content. Subtitles and captions are still the best way to engage people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This is one of the reasons that you’ll want to make sure that your subtitles are as accurate and easy-to-follow as possible. By providing this service, you’ll ensure that your content is inclusive and accessible for everyone. It might seem like a small thing to you, but it’s incredibly important to those who suffer from hearing loss.
While many people think that subtitles are only for those suffering from hearing loss, that’s simply not the case. Yes, subtitles do ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people have the same access to video content as everyone else. But subtitles can enhance the viewing experience for everyone by clarifying difficult to understand dialogue and accents, allowing people to view video content in noisy environments, and more. To put it simply, subtitles help everyone.
Yes! There are dozens of studies that show how captions boost the attention to, comprehension of, and memory of video content. They can also help build a person’s vocabulary and even enhance foreign language learning efforts.
If you’ve ever dreamed of learning a foreign language, subtitles can help. They give you the ability to immerse yourself in your target language. And if you watch video content that’s subtitled in the language you want to learn, they can help you decipher unfamiliar sounds, add to your vocabulary, and more. Plus, subtitles give you access to television shows, movies, and documentaries from countries all around the world. With subtitled content, it’s never been easier to jump into another culture and experience it second-hand.
Absolutely. Subtitles can play a major role in a website’s overall SEO strategy. By subtitling all of the video content on your site, you can give Google thousands of extra words to comb through and serve up to relevant searches.
You bet it can. If you create video content, repurposing that content for other venues is only a transcription away. By transcribing your video, you’ll get a document that you can turn into an article with minimal editing. This is just one great way to repurpose your content so you multiply its impact.