Open captions are always visible because they are "burnt" into the video, whereas closed captions give the viewer the option to turn them on or off. Both make content accessible for your audience but closed captions have the obvious advantage that the viewer is in control. 


Closed Captions

Closed captions give viewers the option of switching the captions on or off while watching a video. They are the most common form of captioning and can be identified by the [CC] symbol. Closed captions can only be displayed when the media player or video sharing site (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo) being used supports it.

Where Are They Used?

Closed captions are most commonly used on television and sites like Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. The closed captions option can also be found on many DVDs and can be turned on in the menu.


  • Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.
  • Closed captions can easily be edited and have changes made to them.
  • Closed captions come in a range of file formats, making them suitable for a variety of media players.


  • The captions will only work if the media player supports closed caption files.
  • Closed captions place responsibility on the viewer to understand how to turn the captions on and off.


Closed Captions Example


Open Captions

Open captions, also known as burned-in, baked on or hard-coded captions, are seen by everyone who watches the video. Open captions are a permanent feature on the video and can’t be turned on and off. Open captions are often used for videos which are being played on website video players that don’t have closed captioning functionality.

Where Are They Used?

Open captions are most commonly used for movies displayed in cinemas. Many cinemas don't have specialty caption display equipment to provide closed captions. Most cinemas that offer open captions will have specific movie showings that provide open captions on the film.


The style of the captions are able to be determined ahead of time.This means you can choose the font color and size for your captions before embedding them in the video.

  • Open captions are easy to use because they do not require special functionality for media players to be able to display the captions.
  • As the open captions are permanently burned into the video, you don't have to worry about keeping track of a separate video file and caption file.


  • Open captions are embedded directly into the video stream of a video, making it impossible to disable them for viewers who don't want them.
  • The quality of open captions is also tied to the quality of the video. If a video is blurry or low-quality, the captions can also be blurry and may be difficult to read.

Start making your content accessible! 

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