“Why Is My Closed Captioning Not Working Properly?” 5 Cardinal Sins You Need To Avoid

December 26, 2023
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“Why Is My Closed Captioning Not Working Properly?” 5 Cardinal Sins You Need To Avoid

Consider these two studies about closed captioning:

  1. A study published by Verizon on video content consumption found that 50% of consumers in the United States find captions important because they watch videos on mute.
  2. A 2023 study by Preply about subtitle usage surveyed 1,260 US consumers and found that almost 1 out of 5 respondents use subtitles for language learning.

These two statistics, among many others, prove the importance of closed captioning in video content creation. It’s not just any captions, however — it’s accurate captioning.

You may have tried your hand at captioning and found yourself experiencing some errors and challenges. If you’re wondering why your closed captioning isn’t working properly, you may have committed one of 5 cardinal sins or common mistakes of captioning.

5 Common Closed Captioning Mistakes You Need To Know

1. Insufficient preparation

In general, closed captioning is a simple process that is only resource-intensive with your time and energy. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to be unprepared to engage in captioning.

This can happen by omitting any one of the following steps:

  • Dedicating sufficient time solely to closed captioning
  • Captioning in a quiet environment with little to no background noise
  • Previewing your video or audio files prior to captioning to understand the context of the spoken dialogue
  • Identifying the subtitle format for your captions

In the long run, insufficient preparation can affect the quality of your closed captioning across all your projects.

2. Overlooking transcription

Transcripts can be a reliable reference material not only for your captions but also for future projects. This is why transcription is a vital part of closed captioning.

If you skip transcription, you can face the following issues:

  • Longer time correcting captions. Without a transcript, you’ll need to rewatch the video to correct captions that have errors.
  • Difficulty creating caption files in other formats. It’s significantly easier to convert from a transcript to another subtitle format.
  • Lesser accessibility to your content. Transcripts offer a text version of your videos that is properly formatted for reading, whereas captions have other elements that can make it difficult for your audience to read the text.

3. Rushing the timestamps

Captions must appear at the exact moment that the dialogue is spoken. However, it may be tedious and time-consuming to identify the timestamp of each caption accurately. Thus, you may want to rush in estimating your timestamps. While this lets you finish closed captioning more quickly, you’ll end up with mistimed captions that harm the watching experience. This is especially true for viewers who may be deaf or hard of hearing.

4. Disregard the formatting of your caption text

For the best watching experience, captions need to have an ideal length that makes it easy for watchers to read without hassle. They should also appear with adequate length whenever more than one line of caption text appears in the same timestamp.

With that in mind, it’s easy to forget to manage the caption length during the closed captioning process. When this happens, your captions become too long to the point that they’re difficult to read or even cut off from the video.

5. Lack of quality control

Closed captioning can take up a lot of time and energy to do. When you’re strapped for time, you may want to skip reviewing your captions and work on your next project.

Even if you’ve become highly skilled in closed captioning, performing a quality control check on your captions is still crucial. Otherwise, you may miss out on any one of these errors:

  • Errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation
  • Mistimed captions
  • Captions appearing too shortly
  • Excessively lengthy captions

How To Avoid The Common Mistakes Of Closed Captioning

Many of these mistakes are due to a lack of practice and time allocated for the task.

To ensure that you’re consistently successful and productive in closed captioning, here are 4 tips you should follow:

  1. Dedicate an amount of time solely for captioning. This lets you focus only on the closed captioning process, leading to fewer mistakes.
  2. Incorporate transcription in your captioning. Transcription provides numerous benefits not only with closed captioning but also in content creation in general.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the captioning process. You should also be familiar with the various types of subtitle file formats so you can be versatile with your closed captions.
  4. Practice closed captioning regularly. Commit a sufficient amount of time and focus to practicing closed captioning so you can establish a comfortable, efficient workflow. This will let you deal with transcription challenges, such as multiple speakers and heavy accents.

Let TranscriptionWing Do Your Closed Captioning For You

No matter how skilled you are at closed captioning, it can be easy to commit any of these mistakes. This is especially true when you have other tasks or projects to complete. Instead of taking on the tedium of closed captioning, consider outsourcing it to a dedicated captioning service provider.

Let TranscriptionWing’s expert human transcriptionists help you reap the benefits of high-quality closed captioning without the hassle. Learn more about other accurate transcription solutions like rush transcription services and interview transcription services that are flexible to your audio or video project needs.

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