Closed captioning makes content that’s easier for viewers to digest and read (even in different languages), and has awesome SEO benefits.

Captions make it easy for viewers to digest the content of your media. They’re a critical part of accessibility, but they are also helpful for longer form and educational content in any language. Wistia captions are also interactive, which means they’re searchable and viewers can jump right to a certain point in the media by clicking on a section of subtitles.

Whether you’re trying to make sure people can get the message of your media (even without the sound), looking to expand your viewer base with multilingual captions, or just searching for a little more love in the media SEO department, Wistia Captions can help.

Let’s jump in to creating and using your captions!

It’s not currently possible to order a set of captions for Soapbox videos exported to Wistia. This is a technical limitation due to Soapbox videos being two separate video feeds compiled in the Wistia player. If you want captions on a Soapbox, you can upload a custom SRT file. Additionally, if you’re on a paid Soapbox plan, you can download your video (this combines the two separate feeds into one) and then upload it to Wistia. Since a downloaded Soapbox is a regular MP4 file, you’ll be able to order captions once that’s uploaded to Wistia.

Setting up Captions in Customize

To enable captions for your video, first head to the media page and select the Customize panel. Then, select the Captions tab to upload or order captions and customize their default settings.

If you already have an SRT file ready to upload, select the Upload SRT option. Be sure to format the SRT file correctly, using our guide below.

We now support WebVTT files. However, they’ll be converted to SRT upon upload, so we cannot support any styling or positioning instructions.

Ordering Captions on Your Media

Ordering captions is only available for accounts with a paid Wistia plan. Free accounts cannot request captions, as it requires having a billing profile with a credit card on file.

If you want to skip time and task of making your own SRT files, the Captions menu has options for ordering a paid transcription. Select the Order link in the Captions menu to see the available options. For the most up-to-date pricing, refer to the captions panel where you can review the per-minute cost before you make an order.

If you want to automatically order captions and transcripts for all new media uploads, the Account Owner can enable this in their Account Settings. You can learn how to enable this feature on our Account Settings help page.

What’s the difference between captions and transcripts? Captions display all audible dialogue in real time on a media and are only available on video media. Transcripts are a time coded log of all dialogue in a media and are available on all media. Read more about ordering transcripts here.

Professional Captions

The Professional Captions option is rated at 99% accuracy. The initial draft is machine generated, then the captions are edited by humans and go through a final, human review 👩‍💻.

Default wait time for the Professional option is 4 business days, with the option to expedite the order and receive it within one business day for an additional cost.

Automated Captions

Automated captions are rated at 80% accuracy, with the added benefit of being ready in minutes. This purely machine-generated transcript comes at a reduced cost, and they’re a great way to save time and cost if you don’t mind doing your own review.

Want captions turned on for your media as soon as the transcription is ready? You can choose this option when ordering. If you’d prefer to review the captions before they go live, make sure to uncheck the Automatically Enable Captions box before you press Place Order.

We’ll send you an email from to let you know when the captions are ready! To learn more details about how transcription works, accuracy rating, etc, you can read up on the process by our partners at 3Play Media.

Use Your Captions

Once your captions are live, the button will appear to all viewers who watch your media. The captions will now be injected into the metadata of your media when using the Standard Embed. To learn more about SEO check out our help page.

To customize your video with captions, select the Customize panel and open the Captions customization area.

Inside the Captions customization area, you can choose to Edit, Download, or Delete your SRT file.

Multilingual Captions

You can upload as many SRT files as you’d like to your media. Spanish, English, French, Croatian — the more the merrier!

Wistia allows for multilingual captions, and you’re only limited by your imagination (and maybe fiction — those Klingon captions won’t work 👽).

Right now Wistia only allows you to order captions in English, but if you have an SRT file in another language upload away!

If you’re using a right-to-left read language, you’ll need to accommodate for the flip that takes place in many internet environments. Wistia flips right-to-left captions by default, so building captions to account for this is the easiest fix.

Captions on by Default

If you’d like your captions to be turned on permanently, now’s your chance! Just choose captions on by default in the Captions menu in Customize.

If you’re working with multilingual captions, we’ll supply the captions that match the language of your viewer’s browser. If those captions aren’t available, we’ll serve English captions by default.

Editing Your Captions

If you spot an error in the automated captions we produce for you, or just need to update your SRT file, you can do that easily by selecting the Edit option in the Captions area of the Customize panel.

Make sure to keep the timing in line! If you update the content of your media, the timing may have changed. Make sure to note that in your SRT file!

SRT Formatting

SRT stands for “SubRip Text,” which is a basic subtitle format. If you’d prefer not to order your captions through us, SRT files can be created and edited using most text editors.

The maximum line length we recommend for captions is 32–40 characters. This will keep your subtitles easy to read, and prevent text from being cut off or wrapping to the line below.

The correct formatting for an SRT file is comprised of four parts:

  1. The number for each subtitle (begins with 1).

  2. The beginning and ending time for each subtitle, formatted as hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds, and separated by -->. There should be one space between the starting time and the -->, and one space between the --> and the ending time.

  3. The subtitle text. This can be on one or more lines.

  4. A blank line before the start of the next subtitle.

Want an example? Sure thing!

00:00:00,500 --> 00:00:03,840
You can add captions in any
language to your Wistia medias.

00:00:03,840 --> 00:00:06,337
French, Spanish,
Japanese, Arabic.

00:00:06,337 --> 00:00:08,420
When your viewers click
the closed captions button

00:00:08,420 --> 00:00:10,711
on the player, they can choose
their preferred language

00:00:10,711 --> 00:00:11,800
from a drop-down menu.

00:00:11,800 --> 00:00:15,180
Croatian, Czech, Hungarian.

00:00:15,180 --> 00:00:17,520
Now your media's message
is accessible to anyone

00:00:17,520 --> 00:00:19,004
from anywhere.

00:00:19,004 --> 00:00:19,820

00:00:19,820 --> 00:00:22,270
Persian, Latin.

Exporting SRT Files

Now that your captions are formatted correctly, you’ll want to save them as an SRT file.

An .srt extension is required to upload captions into Wistia.

Here’s how you can save your file as an .srt in TextEdit:

  1. Format -> Make Plain Text (or Shift + Command + T)
  2. File -> Save
  3. Name your file and edit the extension to be .srt

Be sure to uncheck “If no extension is provided, use “.txt.”"

Once you save your file with the .srt extension, you’ll be good to go!

Interactive Transcripts

Need to locate a section of your media where you know what was said, but you just don’t know when? Interactive transcripts allow your viewers to scroll through, search, and navigate to different parts of your media directly from the transcript. Click the captions menu on the playbar and select “Search Video.” From here, you can search for keywords or phrases and jump to different parts of your video!

SRT Troubleshooting

SRT files need to follow the above formatting exactly, otherwise the upload to Wistia will fail. If this happens, we’ll provide you with an error message pointing to the problem area, like this:

This message will point you right to the line that needs fixing so you can edit it as needed. Save your edits and try uploading again.

Here are some common issues that can occur with SRT files:

  • Captions are formatted correctly, but still getting rejected. You might have an em-dash! An em-dash ( — ) can sometimes be inserted by word processors if you double tap the hyphen key (-). Depending on your text editor’s font, a timing arrow with an em dash can look identical to a correctly formatted one.

    Here’s a quick example: --> , can actually be — -> !

    You can check for these by pasting a sample time stamp into another text field. These are also easier to pick up on with an automated captions checker.

  • Special characters are displaying as � � � instead. The solution to this is to encode your SRT files as UTF-8. Sometimes they’ll be exported in other encodings like UTF-16.

  • File is encoded in UTF-8 and is being rejected. If everything else is in order, check to be sure that your file is encoded in UTF-8, and not UTF-8 with BOM. A Byte Order Mark (BOM) is a special character that can get inserted at the start of certain text files, and can sometimes be hard to detect since it’s not visible in most editors.

Familiar with using command line applications via your computer’s terminal? If so, you can use the handy tool Subcheck to scan whole SRT files for errors. It can even make automatic adjustments to the file. This tool is a favorite of the Wistia Customer Champs 😃

Speaking of the Champs, if you’re having trouble working out the exact issue with an SRT file, you can always reach out to for assistance!