Captioning Services UK – Closed Captions vs. Open Captions vs. Subtitles

Captioning services to United Kingdom Standards (not American Standards).

Transcript Divas Subtitling, Closed Captioning Services and Open Captioning Services are offered as part of our video and film transcription services.

There can be confusion over what open and closed captioning (CC) are and where subtitles fit in. So let us clear that up with a quick definition.

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

Closed captions 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 etc. to the ‘video recording’. The caption file instructs the hosting platform the video 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 are different.

Open captions are inserted into the video file itself by a technician and are sometimes referred to as “burnt-in” captions, as they can be thought of as being burnt onto the actual video file itself and not existing as a separate file as in closed captions. Open captions are permanent and cannot be turned off. On the plus side, you do not need to have access to the platform the video will be played on and once created they are fixed to a single video file you can share. Definitely fewer technical issues once done!

Subtitling Services (UK). So what is a subtitle then? Subtitles and the process of subtitling are used interchangeably in the UK with the term “closed captioning” (for a more detailed description, see: Wikipedia – Closed Captioning). In the USA/Northern Hemisphere, subtitles are the process of displaying a translation of the 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!


We use highly experienced Caption Technicians for our production captions. Or technicians will create your captions so they will exceed the United Kingdom Captioning Quality Standard. See here: What do we mean by Quality Captioning?