They Said What? Why Caption Style Matters

   Who said that?

That could be the question you’d be asking throughout the program if a television show or movie has the wrong style of closed captioning without speaker identification. 

Speaker identification, caption style, and placement have a lot to do with readability of captions and the enjoyment for many viewers of TV and movies. 

There are two different styles of captioning, roll-up, and pop. Roll-up is not recommended for most types of offline or prerecorded programming.

When it comes to “pop” captioning, captions appear and disappear, “popping” onscreen, completely synchronous with program audio. These captions tend to contain one or two lines of text that can be placed essentially anywhere on the screen, such as under the specific speaker of the dialogue.

There are then two main styles of “pop” captioning:
  • Pop-on: Captions appear anywhere on screen- top, bottom, left, right, center; dialogue appears below, above or next to the person speaking, while all sound effects and lyrics are placed in the centered position. This is the preferred style for sitcoms, dramas and a movie because it provides the most aesthetically pleasing look, and is the easiest to understand. There is no speaker identification, as the captions placement will indicate the speaker.
  • Pop-Center: All dialogue, sound effects and lyrics appear in a fixed, centered position at the bottom or top of the screen (depending on graphics); change of speaker is often indicated by a dash, and sentences spoken by the same character is “stacked.” This style is often required of web-based video. VITAC pop-center captions move up and down.
Some consumers have recently complained that our captions are being moved center only in some online players. If these programs were originally captioned in pop-on style, there is no speaker identification. This means viewers have no idea who is speaking.

If you happen to notice this, please let us know by sending an email to

By Brittany Bender

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