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Subtitles – Why do they Matter?

Subtitles – Why do they Matter?

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As the digital world continues to expand at a rapid rate, so does the prevalence of online video content across many industries and sectors of society.

In recent years, social media has evolved into a form of digital beast that has yet to be tamed. Especially since the turn of the century, advancements in wireless internet technology and digital media has led to the emergence of a whole host of new platforms.
This has resulted in online video content becoming a powerful marketing tool that has the ability to drive business growth and success in what is often a highly competitive marketplace.
To get the edge on the rest, marketers are starting to use subtitles more often than before – but what are subtitles and why do they matter? We will cover this topic in more detail below.

What are Subtitles?

As a general definition, subtitles consist of text displayed at the bottom of a cinema or television screen to provide additional or interpretative information.

Of course, this description can now be extended to online videos, with subtitling being very common in visual media accessed over the internet.
Video subtitles do not typically include sound effects and they provide an alternative for the dialogue of video footage, such as the spoken words of characters and narrators.
Subtitles can be broadly categorised into two parts, open and closed. The former is open to all and can be switched off by viewers, and the latter is designed for specific audience members and can be turned on and off by the viewer.

Subtitles vs Captions

When referring to text that appears on a video screen, it is common to hear the terms of subtitles and captions being used interchangeably.

However, these words are not synonymous with each other. They each have distinctive features that allow us to distinguish between them in terms of definition and purpose.
Essentially, captions are designed for viewers who are unable to hear the spoken word, or audio, of a video, whereas subtitles are for those who can hear, but do not understand what is being said, such as the language.
Meanwhile, a specific type of caption, known as closed captioning, is an American term for closed subtitles and is specifically intended for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.

Why are Subtitles Important?

The importance of subtitling cannot be underestimated in the contemporary world, with an increasingly globalised environment meaning that a greater emphasis is placed on accessibility.
More people from different countries with their own cultural backgrounds are viewing similar content. Therefore, subtitles play a crucial role in terms of communication, by informing those who may not understand what is being said.

In the section below, we will be taking a look at some of the key reasons why they can be a vital tool going forward.

● Clarity

The addition of subtitles to a video adds clarity to the content, especially with regards to technical language, industry jargon or terminology that is hard for viewers to decipher. It can also help the audience better retain information gleaned from the video, as it provides not only audio but also a visual stimulus.

● Engagement

Including caption text or subtitles is a good way to improve and extend the amount of time an individual watches a piece of video content. It is possible to maintain concentration for longer periods if there is a text-based aid on screen at the same time. Enhancing the level of general engagement also helps those viewers with attention disorders or autism.

● Literacy

Subtitles can also play a role in improving the overall literacy and comprehension of those who view the content. So long as the subtitle text itself is grammatically correct, it can encourage better literacy, through boosting reading speed and fluency, vocabulary acquisition, word knowledge and recognition, as well as listening comprehension.

● Inclusivity

Making videos as accessible as possible is a very worthwhile endeavour, which is why adding subtitles is an excellent starting point. It can act as an extremely useful resource tool for non-native speakers, while it allows the author to share their content across multiple regions around the world. Subtitle translation is certainly the future of online content because it inevitably widens its potential reach.


Subtitling helps to strengthen the position of a video in terms of search engine rankings, as Google indexes or crawls subtitles that are contained within digital media uploads. Through scoring high marks on the Google ranking index can be the difference between a successful or failed video, as it ensures greater search engine visibility. This can be crucial in what is a highly competitive and ever-expanding online marketplace.
At Pangea Global, our main focus is to meet your translation and localization needs via our dedicated team of professionals who are on hand to help make your content sparkle. Does this sound good to you? Get in touch here.
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