Transcription vs. Caption: What’s the Difference?


Transcription is whereby audio is converted to text, while captioning separates the transcription text into caption frames. Captions became popular when Google announced that all YouTube content would have automat captions. You would come across captions in movies, videos, and other content.

However, the increased use of EdTech websites has made many viewers prefer transcriptions to captions. The transition has sparked a debate on whether content creators should use transcriptions or captions. Transcription forms the basis of captioning, but each process has unique benefits, uses, and legal requirements.

Transcription avails audio-only content, whereas closed captions make videos legally accessible. One similarity is that they help develop user-friendly content and boost video search engine optimization (SEO). Here are more similarities and differences between transcription and captions.

Transcription vs. Caption Definition

Transcription is the process of converting speech into a written text. Since it is a plain-text, the transcription would not have a time stamp. A business can use meeting transcription to efficiently communicate with workers and find critical information discussed in the past meetings.

Transcripts can be written in two different ways; verbatim and clean read. Verbatim transcription captures the verbal and verbal cues of the audio. The transcriber will include fillers, slang, interruptions in the speech, and even sound effects in the final written output.

Verbatim transcriptions are time-consuming and exhausting as you need to transcribe the audio word for word. On the other hand, clean read transcription aims to deliver quality documents. Therefore, the transcriber omits some phrases or words that are unnecessary or grammatically incorrect while maintaining the essence of the audio. The audience can access the transcripts during and after the playback making them be preferred in universities and other platforms.


In captioning, an individual divides transcription text into chunks and time-codes them to ensure synchronization with the video’s audio. Captions showing the speaker and sound effects occur at the bottom of the screen. Captions provide additional information to viewers and increase engagement with the content. Closed captions are more powerful because you can enable or disable them depending on your needs. Unlike transcriptions, captions are only available during playback.

Comparison of Advantages of Transcriptions and Captions

Transcription allows your audio and videos to be accessible and increase user experience. The deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can easily consume content. Transcripts also provide visual effects that allow the visually impaired to know the subject.

Writing transcripts is the best method of introducing closed captions in-house if you do not want to hire professional captioning services. Transcripts media format content like radio shows accessible and increases comprehension for listeners who use English as a second language. In addition, it improves user interaction and boosts online SEO and inbound link traffic.

Search engines cannot physically watch or listen to videos, so transcripts allow the sites to read the content and properly rank them. Transcription software application benefits from AI as it is faster and cheaper than human transcription services.

Benefits of Captions

Individuals need to evolve with technological advancements. People preferred movies or content with captions embedded in them in the past, but in recent years, they want closed captions. Closed captions offer numerous benefits as users can enable or disable them quickly.

Closed captions allow content creators to boost their content’s watch time. Additionally, they increase viewers’ engagement with their videos. Captions are legally required to create video content accessible to the deaf and people with other hearing disabilities.

Moreover, they are helpful to individuals with learning disabilities and attention deficits as they help them maintain focus for more extended periods. Captions also ensure a better understanding of dialogues and allow you to watch videos in sound-sensitive environments like libraries.

Open or burned-in captions have also transformed the generation of video content among social media creators. Social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat lack video player controls. Open captions allow creators to engage with an audience that views muted content.


Transcriptions and captions have overlapping benefits, such as providing content accessibility to the deaf, but each process solves a different problem. Transcription boosts online SEO and increases traffic, whereas captions increase viewing time and allow individuals to watch content in environments that limit noise.

There are cases where transcriptions and captions are combined to provide an excellent user experience. Most EdTech platforms and educational institutions have adopted transcription, meaning it may replace captions in some domains. However, the entertainment industry has shown a preference for captions over transcriptions.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.