Captioning Services UK – Closed Captions vs Open Captions

Our captioning services meet UK standards (not American standards)

As part of our video and film transcription services, we offer Subtitling, Closed Captioning Services and Open Captioning.

There can be confusion over what open and closed captions (CC) are, and where subtitles fit in. So let’s clear that up with some quick definitions.

Captioning is the process of displaying film and video dialogue as a running text-based transcript (captions) on the screen. Captioning comes in two types: closed captions or open captions.

Closed captions: These are the most common, and probably what nearly all people who are talking about captions are referring to. The closed captioning process creates a separate ‘caption file’ of the dialogue to the video recording. The caption file instructs the hosting platform the recording is playing on (e.g. Netflix, Vimeo, website) to play a text overlay of the dialogue on top of the video footage. The viewer can turn closed captions on and off.

Open captions: A technician embeds open captions directly into the video file, and people often call them ‘burnt-in’ because they become a permanent part of the video file itself instead of existing as a separate file. Unlike closed captions, you cannot turn off open captions. However, a significant advantage is that you don’t need access to the platform on which the video will be played. Once you create them, you can easily share the video with the captions permanently attached. This approach generally leads to fewer technical issues once you complete the process.

Subtitling services (UK): So what is a subtitle then? People often use the terms subtitles and subtitling interchangeably with closed captioning. In the Northern Hemisphere, subtitles are a translation of film or video dialogue as text on the screen (e.g. a Chinese language film displaying English language subtitles). If someone uses the term subtitles it is best to see what exactly they are referring to – confusion abounds!
(For a more detailed description, see Wikipedia – Closed Captioning)


We use highly experienced Captioning Technicians for production captioning. Our specialists will create your captions so they exceed the UK Captioning Quality Standard. See here: What do we mean by Quality Captioning?