Open and Closed Captions

by | Dec 21, 2020

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on shaping and restructuring the way we all have interacted with one another and operated in our businesses and work environments. Nowadays, the majority of educational institutions, organizations, schools, colleges, and universities are conducting synchronous and asynchronous classes, workshops, webinars, etc. – live and recorded, respectively – for their students, faculty, and staff, as on-campus activities are prohibited or limited. In today’s world, where almost everything has shifted to the virtual space, providing accessibility and equal access to information for all, especially those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, is more important than ever, and the majority of content creators are or ought to be focusing on captioning their media materials. While providing a premium viewing experience, captions also provide a readable opportunity to your audience and help in boosting your content’s rankings, whether it be a YouTube, Facebook/Instagram video or vlog. Check our detailed article on

“How Captions Boost SEO of your content”  HERE.

Now that we have established the overarching impact of captions and their indispensable nature, let’s get to know them better. There are two main types of captions:

  • Open captions
  • Closed captions

So, which one should you choose for your content?

Let’s dive deeper and discuss their pros and cons.

Open Captions:

In the analog era of video production, open captions, also known as OC, were introduced. These types of captions are usually “burnt in” or embedded into the video, such that viewer cannot turn them off. That means viewers would be stuck with them; hence they are also called hardcoded or baked-on captions.

What are the Benefits of Open Captions?

Open captions provide ease of use for both the viewer and publisher, as the viewer does not need to turn them on and the content creator does not need to worry about the file format/media player compatibility since the captions are already embedded into the video. In other words, it’s foolproof! Further, Open captions are also a suitable approach for audiences might not be able to turn them on due to lack of technical know-how.  

What are the Drawbacks of Open Captions?

Since, open captions are embedded or “burnt” into the video stream, viewers cannot turn them off if they don’t wish to use them. Open captions cannot be indexed by search engines; therefore, unlike closed captions, they do not contribute towards improving the SEO of your content. Lastly, when the video is subjected to compression, open captions are susceptible to loss of quality.

Open Caption Templates by ECS:

ECS provides their clients who opt for open captions a variety of templates for their open captions as shown below We can also provide customized captions upon special request. They can choose from:


1-            Template-1 (White text with thin black border):


2-            Template-2  (White text over a full-width, dark, semi-transparent background)


3-            Template-3  (white text wrapped in dark Background)

4-            Template-4  (white text placed in a full-width box under the video; video is resized)


Closed Captions Major video streaming and broadcasting services like YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook use closed captions, which can be toggled on and off by the viewer. Closed captions are designated by a [CC] symbol in the video settings, and are incorporated as a separate file, thereby giving the viewer the option to turn them on or off. In other words, the viewers have control over their own use of captions!

What are the Benefits of Closed Captions?

Their flexible nature, i.e. the feasibility to turn them on or off, is one of the major advantages of using closed captions. Because closed captions exist as a separate text file, which can be indexed, and search engine bots can easily “crawl” them, they contribute towards overall SEO of the published content. Closed captions can also be created in a diverse range of file formats, making them suitable for a variety of viewing preferences and requirements.

What are the Drawbacks of Closed Captions?

There might be compatibility issues of closed caption files with some media players and streaming platforms. Not to worry — ECS will evaluate and let you know if CC will be appropriate for your needs. Closed captions also require viewers to have the basic technical skills required to turn them off/on. These types of captions could be difficult for individuals who have issues with dexterity or certain cognitive impairments or deficits.


At ECS, we offer caption files in multiple formats, making it easier for you to choose whether open captions or closed captions are best for your captioning needs hence improving your content’s accessibility and helping you grow your audience base. We are here to help you come up with solutions that best meet the needs of your viewers, taking into account the numerous factors described above. Work with ECS to create beautiful captions that speak to your audience and stay within your budget! Check our Caption Services HERE:

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