8 Tips for Creating Your Own Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat Captions

by: David Titmus

close-up photo of social media icons on a phone screen that can accept captionsWe often hear from people who want to caption their own videos. Though the best captions are created by professionals like those here at VITAC, we understand the struggle.

Wildly popular platforms like Instagram and Snapchat allow users to create their own text to apply to prerecorded video. Facebook and YouTube both can accept transcripts in the popular SRT format, which are a little easier to create. Zoom allows the host to assign a person in the meeting to caption by typing what is said into a text box on the screen.

Below are a few tips for users who want to make their content accessible to a wider audience. (But, remember, should all else fail – call the professionals.)

1. Caption everything that’s said.

Try to make sure that every word in your video or web conference is captured via text to the best of your ability. If it’s spoken, it deserves a caption.

2. Check your spelling and capitalization.

It likely goes without saying, but check your spelling and capitalization, and be consistent throughout. Pay attention to homonyms such as their/they’re/there, you’re/your, and it’s/its.

3. Pay Attention to Punctuation.

When it comes to punctuation – use it. It helps folks better understand what youre saying rather than omitting it and making your sentence look like its just one big run on line of text with no beginning middle or end (like I just did). Use quotation marks when conveying quotes, and end sentences with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

4. Place your captions carefully.

Keep in mind that you don’t want the captions to obscure what’s going on in the video (covering people’s faces or other important onscreen graphics) or placed in a spot that makes the text difficult to see.

5. Make sure captions are readable.

What good are captions if they’re difficult to read? Your text needs to be easy to read (consider a font with large, clean letters – script, for instance, usually is a bad idea) and properly spaced across the screen.

6. Watch your speed!

And speaking of readability, the speed in which the captions pop on the screen is important, too. You need to give viewers enough time to read the captions before a new line of text appears onscreen.

7. Caption sound effects.

Sound effects help tell a story. The sound a creaky door makes as it slowly opens or the squealing tires of the getaway car as it flees the scene all enhance the action and are important parts of a video.

8. Name that tune.

If your video contains music with lyrics, include the lyrics in the captions. If you want only to identify a snippet of music (perhaps in instances where music is playing in the background), try to be somewhat descriptive when identifying music. For example, “rock music,” “classical music,” or “country music” can be helpful descriptions.

The above are just a few ideas to keep in mind when adding captions to your video content. It can be a bit of a time-consuming and tricky process, especially with longer videos or web conferences that feature multiple speakers and quick, back-and-forth discussions.

Professional captioners, like those at VITAC, are the best option if you’re looking to save time and aggravation and be assured of accurate captions. Contact us today for more details on how we can make all your video content accessible.