How to Add Subtitles & Captions in Premiere Pro

subtitles in premiere pro



Learn to create subtitles for your video in Premiere Pro
Understand the difference between Closed Captions and Subtitles
Follow our tips for creating compelling Closed Captions for your video

Table of Contents

Subtitles are essential for your video content; they widen your potential audience by making it more accessible. Traditionally Subtitles are used to aid the hard of hearing and create foreign language versions. However, with many people watching online content without audio, subtitles are trendier than ever. While platforms offer auto-subtitling when you publish them, learning to create subtitles in Premiere Pro gives you far more control over their functionality and look.

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What is the difference between subtitles and closed captions?

At first glance, closed captions and subtitles appear to be the same; they both have text on the screen to let the viewer know what is being said. However, there are subtle differences, the main one being who they are intended for. 

Subtitles display any spoken information; character dialogue, voice-over and narrations. Subs are intended to be a written transcript of your video and are super helpful for language translation and accessibility for those that don’t have audio. Most social platforms now auto-subtitle your videos when you upload them, giving the viewer the option of turning them on and off.

Closed captions are subtitles with more details; they don’t just transcribe the spoken word but any other important audio information, such as music, sound effects and background noises. Closed captions are intended for those with no audio input, such as the hearing impaired.

Where subtitles tell the viewer what is being said, closed captions interpret the audio world of your video, indicating tone, emotion, and pacing. Subtitles will often be edited from the spoken word to improve the clarity of the message, such as removing stutters, umms, and errs. Closed captions often include these dialogue stumbles to aid anyone that might be lip reading with following along.

How to add subtitles in Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro offers one of the most comprehensive and robust subtitling and closed caption tools across all professional editing suites. In fact, with Premiere Pro, subtitling is so easy it does a whole step for you.

  1. Edit your video; your subtitles should be added last. 
  2. Go to window> Text; under the Captions file, click Transcribe Sequence.
  3. In the Create Transcript box, the appropriate audio track from the drop-down.
  4. Choose the language you’d like to transcribe; you can add multiple speakers if more than one person is speaking in your video.
  5. Once you’re happy with the settings, hit Create and wait for Premiere to transcribe the video.
  6. Read through the transcription, making any adjustment to text the Premiere AI has gotten wrong.
  7. Once the transcription is done, click the Create Captions button at the top of the box.
  8. In the pop-up window, ensure Create Captions from Transcription is selected and any other settings you wish to use.
  9. Hit Create, and Premiere will add your captions to the timeline.
  10. Highlight all of your titles and use the Essential Graphics panel to adjust the subtitles’ font, weight, size and color.

How to add closed captions in Premiere Pro

Fortunately, adding Closed Captions to your videos in Premiere Pro uses the same method as the Subtitles, but you may need to do a little more editing. Premiere doesn’t allow for 2 Caption Tracks, and since the transcription will only include the spoken words, you will need to go through and add in any other audio information you deem necessary.

There are 2 ways to add a new caption that isn’t created through the transcription; as a part of the original Subtitle or a New Title.

Option 1: Adding a caption to an existing subtitle

  1. Find the Subtitle in the Titles panel that you want to add an audio description.
  2. Right-click on the title and choose Add New Text Box to Caption.
  3. Type your audio description into the new box; it will be added to the transcription titles.

Option 2: Add in a new title

  1. To add a new title, you must first ensure there is space for it.
  2. Drag the ends of your subtitles in the timeline to lengthen or shorten them.
  3. Drag the title element down the timeline if needed.
  4. When you have enough space, right-click the Subtitle in the Titles Panel.
  5. Choose Add Caption Before or Add Caption After, depending on your needs; if the title is still grayed out, it means you need more space to add one.
  6. Remember, moving your titles might cause problems with the timing of your dialogue/subtitles.

How to download the subtitles file

When you export your video with subtitles, they are burned into the composition; they can’t be turned on/off by the viewer. Additionally, as platforms such as YouTube offer an auto subtitling tool, you can end up with 2 versions of subs on your video, making them difficult to read.

Fortunately, these platforms will also let you upload the subtitles file alongside your video. That way, you get complete control over the titles, but they are still optional for the viewer. Each platform will have a slightly different method to upload these files, but Premiere Pro makes it super easy to download them. Click the 3 dots in the top right corner of the Titles panel and choose Export to SRT file.

premiere pro subtitles download srt

Wrap up

Adding subtitles is a fantastic way of making your videos accessible to a broader audience. Many internet users watch video content without sound, so if your project includes dialogue, Subs are a must. Premiere Pro gives you plenty of control over the look and style of your subtitles, and with the handy AI Transcription tool, it’s never been easier. If you’re looking for more help working with Audio in Premiere Pro, check out this handy guide.

Frequently asked questions

About Chris Suffield

Chris Suffield is a London-based writer, editor, and voice-over artist at Jellyfielder Studios; he also writes entertainment news for Box Office Buz and enjoys making things from stock footage.

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