Subtitle Font: Everything You Need to Know about this Writing Essential
February 5, 2021

Subtitle Font: Everything You Need to Know about this Writing Essential

With the idea of content and user engagement shifting all over the internet, subtitles provide a way to stay ahead of the game. More and more internet users are choosing to go with subtitles now, whether it’s a Facebook skit video or an influencer video on Instagram. If you don’t want potential viewers scrolling past your content or being unable to understand a difficult part, subtitles are an absolute must.  

However, those who have used subtitles are all too aware that adding subtitles to videos alone isn’t enough - you have to get them right to be useful. The font you choose will go a long way in enhancing the viewer experience and making sure your message gets through. Fonts for example can make all the difference.  If they are too curvy, complicated, or not easily visible, the whole point of adding subtitles is shot to smithereens.

Statistics about the usage of subtitle fonts

People who add subtitles and captions to their videos for general viewing have a reason other than making them useful - they want a large number of people to view their video content. It's estimated that around 85 percent of Facebook users are watching videos with no sound. If a video doesn't have subtitles, many people choose to simply scroll on.

Of course, some people have to use captions due to a hearing disability but this is not it. Even those without hearing disabilities chose to turn on captions for a variety of reasons.  

What to expect from this guide

This blog will help you in the following ways: 

  • It will help you determine whether your video content is accessible and inclusive for the maximum number of viewers.
  • It will educate you that videos are among the most engaging content online right now.
  • It will motivate you that your efforts will get you the desired ranking.

Can you just use any subtitle font?

Neon Sign, Coffee, Coffee Lovers, Kafeeliebhaber, Scene

The most common fonts for the best video subtitles include options like Times New Roman, Times, Calibri, Arial, Cambria, etc. If you look at all these fonts, they have one thing in common; they’re clear and easy to read. There’s no cursive, no letters that resemble each other, and no creative touches that might overwhelm the screen.

You can have your pick of any document-style standard subtitle fonts for your captioning purposes. They might be common choices and even seem boring at times but your main goal should be a seamless and easy reading experience.

Some video creators might prefer a less conventional choice. There’s nothing wrong with that. As long as the font is still easy to read, the text appearance can still have a bit of flair.

Tips for choosing the best font

So now that we have more text on the screen, what should be the best font to choose? These tips come in handy:

  • First off, make sure the color doesn't blend in with the background. Use a color contrast checker to ensure that the font color complies with the usual accessibility standards.
  • As for the font itself, it’s probably best to go with a non-serif font. Make sure it’s easy enough to read; any option like Verdana, Helvetica, Calibri, Arial, or Tahoma will be great.

All these sans serif fonts are easier for reading on the screen than others. Serif fonts, on the other hand, are busier due to the tiny detailed lines after each character. So, avoid Times New Roman, Garamond, Rockwell, and similar options.

Subtitle text and using the right color

No matter what font we use, having a color that stands out against the background is a must. If you want to get just the right colors for the subtitle text, first set your fill color to white. Then, select a thin, black outline to ensure that the text captions are readable and clear.

You’ll notice that many meme generators do something similar. Whatever the font, it’s mostly white and has a black outline. The same goes for text captions on YouTube.

Choosing the right subtitle font

Making any change or edit to your video content takes a lot of effort. You don’t want to change things much once they’re done and set. This is why you need the right kind of subtitle font right away. To ensure that your efforts aren’t wasted, check off the following requirements after making sure of the right font type and color:

Know if it’s legal

Are you within your legal rights when you choose a certain subtitle font? Most of these options were made by an artist who still holds the rights to their work.

Most of the standard subtitle fonts have free copyright, but not all. Before you decide on any one option, check its legal papers and the usability statements. Neglecting this step could result in copyright lawsuits, etc. To be on the safe side, consider buying fonts from an online store.

Identify its compatibility

Next, see if the font you choose is compatible with the player and device you have in mind. Mainstream devices such as smartphones and laptops should be your top priority, along with players like YouTube, VLC, etc.

Ensure its readability according to the video

Finally, ensure that the text is clear and readable in the video itself. The font might be clear and legible on its own but it could be a whole other story once you incorporate it into your content.

Best practices to consider for subtitle fonts

Here are some of the steps you should ensure when considering various subtitle fonts:

Accuracy

The captions need to be perfectly synced and without an error. This is the main goal for any production you make, as any inaccuracy could throw the viewer off, confuse them, and even turn them off watching your content altogether.

Readability

Your captions and/or subtitles have to be clear; plus, they should be displayed long enough for a complete reading. Synchronize them properly with the audio. Also, ensure that they don’t obscure any important visual content.

Consistency

The font and appearance of the subtitle text should be uniform in both presentation and style. This is necessary to make the viewer understand what’s going on. However, there could be exceptions in case there are two or more languages used in a video or you want to emphasize something important.

Clarity

The audio needs to be represented completely through the text. You also have to ensure speech identification, non-spoken information, and other aspects in the case of captions.

Color

You’ll find several choices of colors for making your subtitles and captions. If you do choose something non-conventional, make sure it’s readable, clear, and complements the footage. The color shouldn’t interrupt any font, nor should it blend into the colors of the video.

You can also choose colors with a focus on brand representation or any theme you’re going for. Again, though, choose wisely concerning readability and clarity.

Size

The proper font size will help any audience see the text and understand it. With so many footage options and types of screens these days, choosing just the right size for captions or subtitles might be more challenging. Take some out, don’t make the text too large or small, and test it out before the final download.

Testing on mobile

Speaking of testing, it’s highly important to test out the captions and subtitles before you put up any video for viewing or downloading. Test the video on smartphones, laptops, tablets, and share the link with yourself to get the gist of the users’ experience.

Best fonts for subtitles: 10 great options

The best font for your subtitles is out there. You might be overwhelmed with the font options available to you. Let's make things a bit easier by narrowing down the most standard subtitles fonts (or those that usually work best, anyway), and talking about each one in some detail:

1. Arial

Most internet users today are quite familiar with the Arial font. This was the default option for most computer systems and programs in Microsoft Office until around 2007.

When you use Arial for your subtitles and even titles, it won’t distract the viewers from the actual content. Arial itself has a few variants but you can always play around with them to see what fits best.

For instance, Arial Black is a great favorite as it stands out quite easily. However, experience tells us that this variant can get a bit too bulky if we use it for long sentences.

2. Lucida Grande

This font is now the default option in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019. The choice is hardly a surprise, as Lucida Grande is one of the clearest sans serif fonts out there.

3. Verdana

This is one of the more modern font options and quite a popular one too. The main upside of using this font is that its development was aimed at video content. The typeface looks clean in videos as well as movies, probably because it was designed around the pixels on a screen.

Verdana’s design and development also mean that it won’t look so neat when you try to replicate it by hand. It’s for screen use. So, you can even use it to make small subtitles when required. At the same time, the colors of Verdana are striking enough to grab attention. You don’t waste space with this option either. Perhaps, you can consider this one for your next short video project. 

4. Futura

This font is a flexible sans serif which works great in almost every case. It’s utilized for regular use as well. However, it has a condensed typeface option that allows for a lot of text in a relatively small area.

Fortunately, even with that cramming, the Futura font is known to remain clear and easy to read. Pay attention the next time you see a viral video on social media. If the screen text is a key factor, the chances that it uses the Futura font is a high one.

5. Times

While Times New Roman is a more familiar name, we now have the related Time font for our subtitle and captioning needs. Times is a bit more useful for this purpose due to its simplistic appearance. Even if one doesn't prefer such a choice, they should consider that it will be so familiar with most audiences that the distraction factor will be low.

6. STIXGeneral

STIXGeneral gives us a clear look that’s perfect for video journalism and documentaries. It’s great if you want a somewhat sophisticated serif font for such content.

This font is also nice to use for any white text preambles on a black background (think of the little narration with the text at the beginning of the Star Wars movies) or titles of whole works.

If you have to work with large blocks of text throughout a video, STIXGeneral may not be the best option out there. However, it's good enough for adding a bit of regality to any project.

7. Roboto

This is the font we see by default on our Android phones as well as most Google services such as Google Play, Maps, Images, etc.

Roboto is among the most popular fonts in general since it is also an excellent choice for subtitles; it’s adjustable for all kinds of screens and devices. You can use it for captions. Besides, the font is easy to comprehend and skim.

8. Cinecav

There are equal width and proportion intervals in Cinecav, which is perfect for subtitle usage. Its design is specially focused on meeting all FCC requirements for closed captioning. You can also choose to have this font in italics as well as a character set for several kinds of languages.

9. Antique Olive

The rounded, clear appearance of this font is somewhat like the basic outline of an olive, hence the name. There are several kinds of old formats you can choose while working with this option.

Plus, Antique Olive is fairly unique in the world of fonts, along with being clean, clear, and attractive as well.

10. Tiresias

This font provides excellent readability, containing two main options; Infofont (free) and Screenfont (paid, premium version). The first kind is for viewers who have to look at the subtitles to understand the content. With the latter, you have large dashes and spaces that are made for TV viewing.

While Tiresias may not be the most well-known font out there, it was made to help out folks with vision issues. Incidentally, it’s also BBC’s official font. Overall, this font will be great for people who have impaired vision or even those who have perfect vision but prefer text to fully comprehend everything.

What font is used for closed captioning?

Closed captions are similar to subtitles as both are forms of screen text. However, these captions (which come with the option of being turned off) describe all the sounds in the video along with the words in the dialogues. This means that anyone with hearing issues will get to know about the sound effects and the music. This way, they’ll have a more holistic experience and be able to enjoy the video more.

Some modern video players like YouTube and Vimeo also have a CC button now. Clicking this will turn closed captioning on and off as required.

Automatic captioning: how to do it effectively

With artificial intelligence (AI) and technological advancements in general, we can now go for automatic captioning for our video projects. You can utilize speech recognition software for this or use some other technologies within the realm of artificial intelligence.

With so many videos out there, it can be hard for even sophisticated search engines to know what’s in video content. For now, it is safe to assume that any major search engine is operating mostly on text results. This just makes the need for subtitles or closed captions even more pressing.

Since typing out all the subtitles can be a daunting task (and expensive if you hire someone else for the job), technology might have a way to make things easier. Here are just a few options you can look at while optimizing your video for search engines and user experiences:

1. Automatic captioning by YouTube

This is a free tool that comes automatically with the service itself. You have an automatic transition for any video you upload with the option to edit the text using Video Manager.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the transcription here is perfect. On the contrary, the automatic captioning from YouTube has become the subject of a lot of internet humor. In their defense, the teams behind YouTube do seem to be constantly improving this service.

Since some of the work is done for us through this service, we can manually adjust the text. Selecting the Subtitles & CC button will pull up the settings from where you can get the subtitle file for alteration.

Press ‘Edit’ and start adjusting. You can type over the incorrect text and utilize the embedded player to go through the whole video. This way, you’ll only have to intervene as and when necessary. When you have the right subtitles, select ‘Publish Edits.’

You can also export a subtitle file by clicking ‘Actions.’

Another unfortunate problem with YouTube here is that you can’t collaborate with its subtitles. It will jumble things up when you talk in an accent. So, let’s have a look at another option.

2. Watson and Amara

Here we have another free service that gives us automatic captioning. It’s named after the Watson supercomputer by IBM, which was known for defeating Jeopardy! Champions in the year 2011. We can now use similar technology for processing speech and several other forms of data.

For this service, all we have to do is upload the audio file for our video. The computer will transcribe it all for you. While you may have to pay for the full version, the demo version has a lot of functionality. An audio clip that’s six minutes long could be transcribed in less than that time if all goes well.

The best part is that this service supports languages such as Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, and French along with English. However, keep in mind that the transition wouldn't be flawless. You’ll still have to go through it and make a few changes where necessary. On the upside, it’s possible to copy the text into another app like Notepad and edit it anywhere you like.

3. Descript

This is one of the newer transcription tools on the market. However, it’s still not available for free downloading. If you do have the budget for this option, though, you can get a new approach for creating and editing transcripts as well as the audio itself. It all comes in one single package including desktop apps and a smooth interface.

It seems like you can also create a free account with this subscription service, which allows for three whole hours of processing audio. In addition to adjusting the text, it’s also possible to adjust and edit the audio itself. This flow can be useful for content creators especially when you consider the inbuilt recording tools.

6 Benefits of using the right subtitle font

Below are just a few of the many potential benefits you get when your content has the perfect subtitle font:

  1. Enhances user engagement

A Facebook research study claims having closed captions can increase the view time for any video by around 12 percent on average. Social media influencers and companies want all the attention and competitive edge they can get. This percentage can be just what they need to stay ahead in the game.

Now that people are viewing videos more often, content creators need to make sure of a positive user experience every time. This means catering to their need for subtitles when they’re in public, in a quiet place, have problems understanding accents, or might have some issue with mumbling during a video.

  1. Improves SEO if the video is on YouTube

Google might be the biggest search engine for now. But YouTube is also widely-used and a major influence on how your audience thinks. If you want to improve your SEO on YouTube, you should put some effort into your subtitle fonts.

YouTube does offer auto-captions but these might be less than accurate.

When you upload a decent file with all the right captions, you also avoid any problem of getting a mixed-up translation. The Digital Discovery Network has done its research on the subject. They've reported that a video with clear subtitles might see a boost in its views by up to 13.48 percent or more within the initial two weeks. The overall boost is expected to be around 7.32 percent or higher.

  1. Clarifies any technicalities associated with complex jargon and terminologies

Jargon and industry terms may not be everyone's cup of tea. Even if one is familiar with a particular field, there could be a plethora of reasons why they don’t recognize all the terminology every single time. Then again, the sound on videos isn’t always perfect, making it hard for someone to catch an important name or term. In all these cases, it’s subtitles that come to the rescue.

  1. Helps the audience understand an unknown language

The English-speaking population these days is interested in a lot of Korean, Japanese, Indian and even Turkish shows/movies. Some shows might be dubbed but the choice is limited. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get subtitles for a lot of non-English content.  

  1. Helps people with learning disabilities comprehend video content

Apart from hearing disabilities, there are also learning disabilities to consider when we’re making videos for the internet. According to research, transcripts of videos as well as their captions can be immensely beneficial for those who have disabilities.

For instance, a student who doesn’t understand the pace of a class might be able to finally grasp the concept through multiple viewings and access to clear text. The Distance Learning Accessibility Committee in the University of South Florida supports the use of captions for their online course, just because of their benefit to all students regardless of disabilities.

  1. Enables the audience to watch a video when they’re in their workplace or library

We’ve touched upon this factor before; when we’re studying or just chilling in a library or taking a break at the office, scrolling on our phone is the most common pastime.

Some might say that they can always use headphones. But not everyone has headphones with them all the time. Plus, sound might still leak out depending on what kind of headphones you use.

The role of subtitles in content creation

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Source:https://pixabay.com/photos/chalkboard-story-blogging-believe-620316/  


Setting up a good font for subtitles means that you ensure a light, readable experience. Most viewers who don’t like subtitles are peeved about the text ruining the screen experience.

With the right subtitle font and proper syncing, the subtitles should become a part of the view in itself. It’s even possible to make the subtitles smooth and easy to comprehend that viewers forget they’re reading along with watching.

Along with enhancing the viewing, the best font for video captions will also ensure a maximum potential audience. Many people are scrolling through their phones in places or situations where they can’t always turn on the sound - in a library, while rocking a baby to sleep, or in any public place. Having the captions on means that anyone can view and comprehend the video even if there’s no sound.

The takeaway

In a nutshell, the subtitle font is the physical appearance of any video’s subtitles. Many of us might not have paid much attention to subtitle fonts or closed captioning fonts but the fact of the matter remains that subtitles and captions are not new to anyone. Whether we use subtitles and captions to watch a movie/TV series that’s only available in a foreign language or because of hearing issues, there's no denying that they are pretty useful.

A standard subtitle font will be one that's clear, easy to read, and fairly quick to comprehend as well. Viewers shouldn't be struggling to read text when they are watching and enjoying a movie, getting instructions from a video, or getting inspired by other types of content.

Several fonts provide all these advantages and more. However, you might not want to just close your eyes and pick one standard subtitle font at random for your content. It's best to check out each standard font and see which one goes best with your video content.

So, which font did you like best? Choose one for the subtitles in your next video and check out the difference.


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