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Transcripts and Captions

Transcripts and captions make content that’s easier for viewers to digest and read, and have has awesome SEO benefits.

Caroline F avatar
Written by Caroline F
Updated yesterday

Transcripts and 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, they’re a great addition to your content.

Note

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.

Note

The video recording power of Soapbox is now available natively in Wistia. Learn more.

Adding Transcripts and Captions To Your Media

If you want to skip writing up your own transcript, scroll below your media to the Transcript section. Select Order Transcript to see the available options.

Click to order transcript for your media

Note

Automated captions are free of charge depending on your plan type. New Wistia plans include free automated captions, while Legacy Plans do not. Free, legacy accounts cannot request captions, as it requires having a billing profile with a credit card on file.

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.

Note

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.

If you already have a file ready to upload, select the Upload Transcript option. Be sure to format the SRT file or VTT file correctly (feel free to use our guide below!).

Note

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

Professional Transcripts

The Professional Transcript option is rated at 99% accuracy. The 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 Transcripts

Automated transcripts are rated at 92% accuracy, with the added benefit of being ready in minutes. This purely machine-generated transcript comes at a reduced cost, and is a great way to save time and cost if you don’t mind doing your own review.

Tip

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 Order Transcript.

We’ll send you an email from [email protected] to let you know when the transcript is ready!

Transcription Keywords

If you're ordering automated transcripts and have words in your media that may be harder to transcribe (acronyms, industry terms, product names), you can add a list of keywords in your account. To do so, head to your Account Settings page and scroll down to the "Transcription Keywords" section.

Transcription Keywords list in Account Settings

Once complete, scroll down to click "Save Settings."

Setting up Captions on your Media

To enable captions for your video, head to the media page and select the Customize panel. Then, select the Controls tab to enable the captions icon to display in the playbar, and decide whether you’d like captions to be on or off by default.

turn captions on or off by default

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

In the Transcript section of your media page, click "Edit Transcript" to edit the transcript file. Once edited, click "Save." .

Edit Transcript File

Click the three dots to select a language, upload a new transcript, delete a transcript, order another transcript, download a transcript, generate chapters with AI, or correct the timing of the captions.

Note

Using AI to set up chapters in your video will remove any current chapters if you’ve previously added them, and replace them with the AI-generated chapters.

Options for transcript files

Note

Make sure that you’d like to delete your transcript, as this is permanent and cannot be undone.

Correct Captions Timing

If you need to adjust the timing of your captions, click the three dots menu, and then select “Correct Captions Timing" to open the editor.

Options for transcript files

From here, you can move words around your timeline as necessary, extend how long they’ll display, and customize any line breaks in the text.

Select a specific word to adjust it, or click your desired point in the timeline.

The bars above each group of text can be used to control:

  • The length of time a block of text appears on the video

  • How long the break between captions will be

  • How many words will appear in that block of text

The carriage return icon can be dragged to determine where line breaks should appear.

If you make any mistakes, click “Undo” or “Redo.” To remove a line break, select it and click “Delete.” Click the keyboard to view keyboard shortcuts.

Correct Captions Timing

If you have transcript files in multiple languages, you can select which one you’d like to edit as well. Click into the dropdown menu to select your desired language.

Select caption language

To exit the captions editor without making changes, click “Cancel.” If you’re ready to save your changes, click “Save.”

Interactive Transcripts

Interactive transcripts allow viewers to navigate to different parts of your media by scrolling through or searching the captions file. Open the captions menu from the play bar and select “Search Video", then search for keywords or phrases to jump to a specific part of the video.

Search Video for Interactive Transcripts

Below a media, the transcript will also highlight each word as it is spoken. Clicking on a specific word will take you to that point in the media.

Interactive and time-coded transcripts

Multilingual Captions

Uploading Transcripts

You can upload as many transcript files as you’d like to your media. To add more files, click the three dots, then Upload Transcript. From here, open up the dropdown menu, or start typing a language to select the appropriate option. Once done, click Upload.

Upload additional transcript

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.

Tip

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 transcripts by default, so building captions to account for this is the easiest fix.

Translating Transcripts

To create a new translation of your transcript from directly within Wistia, click the three dots menu and select “Create New Translation.”

From here, search for or select your desired language from the dropdown menu and then click “Translate.”

Select language to create transcript translation

You can then select which language you’d like to view as captions in your video by clicking the captions icon on the playbar.

You can also choose which translation you’d like to display by default. Click the three dots menu and then “Select Language” to set the transcript language, and then click “Save.”

Note

Transcript translations are currently available on Advanced and Premium Plans.

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.

Tip

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.

Here is an example:

1
00:00:00,500 --> 00:00:03,840
You can add captions in any
language to your Wistia medias.

2
00:00:03,840 --> 00:00:06,337
French, Spanish,
Japanese, Arabic.

3
00:00:06,337 --> 00:00:08,420
When your viewers click
the closed captions button

4
00:00:08,420 --> 00:00:10,711
on the player, they can choose
their preferred language

5
00:00:10,711 --> 00:00:11,800
from a drop-down menu.

6
00:00:11,800 --> 00:00:15,180
Croatian, Czech, Hungarian.

7
00:00:15,180 --> 00:00:17,520
Now your media's message
is accessible to anyone

8
00:00:17,520 --> 00:00:19,004
from anywhere.

9
00:00:19,004 --> 00:00:19,820
Anywhere.

10
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.

Note

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

Saving and .srt file in TextEdit

Note

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!

VTT Formatting

VTT stands for “Video Text Tracks.” The first line of a VTT file needs to be “WEBVTT” and the formatting is similar to an SRT file.

The beginning and ending time for each subtitle needs to be 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. Then comes the subtitle text, which can be one or more lines, then a blank line before the start of the next subtitle.

Note

While VTT files allow for more formatting options, any VTT files uploaded to your video will be converted to an SRT file, and any VTT-specific formatting options will not carry over into Wistia.

Exporting VTT Files

Here’s how you can save your file as a .vtt in TextEdit:

  1. Format -> Make Plain Text (or Shift + Command + T)

  2. File -> Save

  3. Name your file and edit the extension to be .vtt

Note

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

Troubleshooting

SRT and VTT files need to follow the above formatting exactly, otherwise the upload to Wistia will fail.

Here are some common issues that can occur:

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!

If you’re having trouble working out the exact issue with a file, you can always reach out to our Support Team for assistance!

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