Skip to content

Subtitles vs Captions

What’s the difference between subtitles, captions, and transcripts? And what do we need when?


Subtitles provide text of only the dialogue.

  • They do not include important sounds.
  • Sometimes subtitles are for spoken audio translated into another language.


Captions (also called “intralingual subtitles”) provide all dialogue and important sounds.

  • They are a text version of the speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the content. Captions/Subtitles on WAI.
  • Captions are required for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media. Technique G87: Providing closed captions in the WCAG. A note in the Description says: “Captions should not be confused with subtitles. Subtitles provide text of only the dialogue and do not include important sounds.”

Captions are needed for accessibility. Subtitles in other languages are not directly an accessibility accommodation.

Captions or transcripts?

It’s best to provide captions and a separate transcript. “Provide Both Captions and a Transcript” section of Planning Audio and Video Media on WAI.

Captions and transcripts include the same text, so one can be used to develop the other. Caption files are used by some media players to provide interactive transcripts.


Transcripts are like other text on the page (and less like alt text). Headings, bold, lists are all good as they add structure and meaning.

Put the transcript on the same page, ideally right after the video.

Transcripts at WAI.

Have a think

What’s the difference between subtitles and caption?