Should You Include Subtitles on Your TikTok Video? Here's Everything You Should Know

Should You Include Subtitles on Your TikTok Video? Here's Everything You Should Know

Published on 29th of August 2023

TikTok can be overwhelming for beginners, given all the tools you can tinker with on the app. You can slowly explore them as you develop your content on the platform. But if there's one feature you should learn to use right away, it's the captions. TikTok is about participating in each other's passions and connecting with people from different parts of the world. With captions, you can make your content accessible to everyone.

There are many more reasons to add captions to your TikTok videos. To help you navigate this feature, here's a guide that covers its benefits, how to add them to your videos, and how to use them creatively.

Why Should You Include Captions in Your TikTok Videos?

a close up of a scrabble tile wall with words written on it

For most TikTok users, captions are a nice feature, but they're not a requirement for watching videos. Still, creators forget that there are users with disabilities who need captions to understand their content. Captions are the first step to making TikTok videos accessible to the deaf community and those with hearing issues.

Language barriers are another reason to include captions in your TikTok videos. If you speak your native language in your videos, you can put English captions to help you engage with a wider global audience. If you speak English with an accent, you can include captions to help your audience understand you better. In other cases, users can understand your language but may not be fluent and need the support of captions.

Lastly, captions are crucial because TikTok users don't always watch videos with audio. They might be in a situation where noise is inappropriate. Or they prefer to consume content with the volume turned off. Either way, it's a wasted opportunity if they don't understand your message.

What Types of Captions Can You Include in TikTok Videos?

two women sitting on table

There are various ways to add captions and subtitles to your TikTok videos. In addition, the different types of captions serve unique purposes. Here's a guide to TikTok captions to help you choose the right kind for your content.

  • Auto-Generated Captions

    As part of TikTok's efforts to make the platform more accessible to those with hearing disabilities, it recently rolled out auto-generated captions. When you turn this feature on, the app will automatically add captions for the original sounds in your video. You can edit the captions as necessary, and they'll appear on the video once published. Viewers can turn auto-generated captions on and off and choose from the language options the creator has chosen.

  • Auto-Generated Translations

    To overcome language barriers and help make the platform more inclusive, TikTok recently added the auto-generated translations feature. It translates captions and video descriptions into your native tongue, letting users enjoy content beyond the original language. It can even translate text stickers, so you never miss out on any crucial information. TikTok is currently working on adding more languages to the selection.

  • Manual Captions

    TikTok creators can choose to add captions to their videos manually. While the auto-generated captions and translations are commendable features, they're not always accurate. By adding captions yourself, you can deliver the correct message to your audience. One downside to these subtitles is that users can't turn them off, unlike auto-generated captions and translations.

    You can add captions directly on the TikTok app. However, it can be hard to sync the text with the video. Many creators prefer third-party apps like InShot and Splice for adding subtitles because they offer a more seamless experience.

How to Make TikTok Captions That Are Accessible

black Apple iMac besides white Apple Magic mouse and keyboard

One advantage of manually adding captions is that you can control how they will look. While you're free to create your captions how you want, you must be mindful of your choices to make your content accessible and inclusive.

TikTok provides countless options for colors, backgrounds, and fonts. While it can be tempting to use various combinations, think about how your text will look to those with visual impairments. It may look nice to you, but for them, it may be impossible to read. It's best to stick to classic Sans Serif fonts and make them large enough to be legible. Place your text at the top of the screen to prevent it from overlapping with the video description below.

In addition, there should be enough contrast between your text and background. According to WCAG, the minimum contrast ratio is 4.5:1. White text against a black background is the best combination, providing a contrast ratio of 21:1. However, you can choose other colors, as long as they meet the minimum requirement.

Lastly, it's crucial to use the right words. Practice as much sensitivity and kindness to avoid dismissing or disrespecting certain groups of people.

Other Ways to Make Your TikTok Videos More Accessible and Inclusive

At least 15% of the world's population has a form of disability, and creators can do more to make it easier for them to consume content. Aside from adding captions to your TikTok videos, there are other steps to make your content more accessible and inclusive.

Writing video descriptions allows you to connect with your followers with hearing impairments. Try to be as descriptive as possible so they can enjoy your content the way others do. Fortunately, the auto-translate tool can help them appreciate your video descriptions in their native language.

You can also turn on text-to-speech voice-overs to cater to those with visual impairments. While it's good to have captions and descriptions in your videos, not everyone can read them. Also, some users prefer listening to audio to reading text.

The Bottom Line

Captions contribute to the success of many TikTok creators. Not only do they increase your chances of going viral, but they also drive engagement and help you build a connection with your followers. More importantly, captions can break language barriers. They also make your content more accessible to a larger audience, including those with disabilities.

Social media has a long way to go in accessibility and inclusivity. But creators can do their part by taking the time to include captions, descriptions, and text-to-speech voice-overs.

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