How to Add Captions to Facebook Videos: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Why Add Captions to Facebook Videos

Over the last ten years, video has become ubiquitous. It is the main source of information and entertainment for literally billions of people. Some text-centric platforms remain, of course. There have been some rollbacks as well, as the core audience of Instagram was able to push back against proliferation of suggested videos in their feeds in favor of the more traditional photos. Not so on Facebook, which announced back in 2018 that it will focus on "meaningful social interactions" through video experiences. On this platform, video accounts for the majority of traffic and engagement, so if you are using it, here's what you need to know.

As far back as in 2016, content publishers with a sizable presence on Facebook reported that 85% of all their videos on the social media platform were watched without sound. A 2019 study by Verizon Media of US consumers found that

  • 69% view videos with sound on mute when in public places

  • 25% watch videos with sound off even in private

  • 80% are more likely to watch the entire video if it has captions

So, if you post videos on Facebook, whether you are a creator or an advertiser, unlock their full potential with captions. How can you add captions to a Facebook video? Well, there are two main options.

Following Google's lead, Facebook has introduced an Auto-caption feature. However, it is only available to Business pages, not personal ones or Groups. Plus, auto-caption never has a zero error rate, so you will have to edit the captions afterwards. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you want to add subtitles in other languages to reach a wider audience, you will also have to do it yourself.

How to Add Subtitles to a Facebook Video with a SRT File

Creating your own captions/subtitles and uploading them to a Facebook video is really two sets of steps. One is creating the SRT file itself. The second one is adding it to Facebook. Let's go through both in some detail.

Creating a SRT File

This can be intimidating, but once you figure out the code, the rest should be easy. So, here's what you need to know. Each caption has three lines of code that look like this:

adding subtitles to Facebook video with a SRT file

First line is the number (1, 2, 3) that indicates the sequence in which the caption should appear. It's important to keep these numbers in the right order.

The second line specifies the start and end timestamps for a particular section (00:00:02,600 → 00:00:05,800), which tell the computer when to display each text caption.

The third line is the actual text of the caption. Now that you understand how the code is written, let's create a SRT file.

Step 1. Open a text editor

Choose a rich text edit software such as TextEdit, NotePad++, Atom, or any other that you prefer.

Step 2. Write your code

Here are the things to remember when writing your code. It is best to keep the caption text rather short to make it digestible. There should be a space between each caption code. Also, avoid punctuation marks such as dashes that may confuse the code.

Step 3. Save your file

Once you finish writing your subtitle code, you need to save your file. Save it as a "Plain Text" file and be sure to follow these naming convention:

filename.[languagecode]_[country code].srt

The file name is up to you. The language and country code are very important because if mistakes are made, your subtitles may not appear on Facebook after you upload them. To find the proper naming conventions for your target country and language, click here.

Also, make sure that when you save the file, it ends in .srt, not .txt. Even if you don't find .srt listed as a recommended file extension in the text editing software that you use, it's possible to type it in manually. Not that you have your file, it"s time for the upload.

How to Upload Subtitles to Facebook

uploading subtitles to Facebook

Step 1

Upload a video or select one of the previously uploaded for caption.

Step 2

Select the dot-menu on the right and click Edit Video.

Step 3

Navigate to the Captions tab and click the Upload SRT File button. This will open the file browser on your computer.

Step 4

Find the .srt file for the video and upload it.

Step 5

Set the default language to the one you used in your captions. Review the video to check that everything looks good. Click Save.

Best Practices for Facebook Subtitles

We have already mentioned some rules to follow when writing your caption code, but let's go through best practices of subtitling/captioning your Facebook videos for the greatest impact and usability.

  • Keep each caption short and sweet. The general advice is to have no more than 42 characters per line, but keep in mind that Facebook videos are mostly vertical, not horizontal, so an even shorter limit may apply here.

  • Do not break your caption lines after conjunctions and keep people's names and titles on the same line as well.

  • Each caption must be no more than two lines long.

  • Use a separate subtitle for each sentence.

  • Sound effect captions are written in lowercase italics and put in brackets or parenthesis (ex. (dog barking), [sound of thunder]).

  • Italics are also used to capture the character"s thinking, offscreen narration, a voice-over reading of something.

  • Use the names to identify different speakers, especially when someone speaks off-screen.

  • Captions should be clear, readable, consistent, and uniform in style and presentation.

And remember, you can always outsource this work! vidby can subtitle your Facebook videos using state-of-the-art AI with or without human oversight, and you won't have to worry about following all the rules and troubleshooting in case of any errors.

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