Videos with subtitles get more engagement on social media since people often browse through apps like Twitter with their sound turned off. They’re also more accessible to people with hearing disabilities as they give an alternative way to consume the video’s dialogue.
Twitter launched video support in 2016, and many brands, social media influencers, podcasters, educators, and journalists regularly publish videos to their feed. However, Twitter does not yet support closed captioning, meaning a video’s soundtrack (and message) don’t reach people with the sound off. To add subtitles to your Twitter videos, you first need to embed text directly into the video before publishing.
In this article, I’ll explain how to add captions to a Twitter video using a free, online subtitle tool. Adding subtitles directly and permanently into your video is the best way to ensure that your message reaches as many people as possible. This tutorial has four easy steps:
- Upload your video
- Add captions
- Style the subtitles
- Download and publish to Twitter
Step 1: Upload your video
To start, you’ll need to upload your video to an editing tool or website. In this tutorial, I recommend using Kapwing’s Subtitle Maker. Kapwing is a free, online video editor with a fast and simple experience for captioning videos.
Open the Subtitle Maker and upload your video from your computer. If your video is already online (on YouTube or Google Drive, for example), you can paste the URL to import it directly.
Step 2: Add captions
After the video loads in the editor, you can add and edit the text you want to appear in your captions.
Manually: If you don’t have an SRT file or want to type in captions by hand, listen to your video and manually transcribe the dialogue. If you miss a word, you can go back 5 seconds to make sure you catch it and use the space bar to start and stop the video. Then, use the white sliders to change the start and end time of each subtitle. Or, you can use the “Set to current time” button to adjust the timings as you listen to the video.
Automatically: To speed up the subtitling process, you can automatically transcribe the video. Click the green “auto-generate” button and select the video’s language to get a machine-generated transcription. Then, manually edit and tweak the subtitles and their timings to match them to the video’s audio. If a subtitle is too long, you can Duplicate it and split the subtitle into two parts.
Note: The auto-subtitle feature is in beta testing right now! Let us know what you think about it over Twitter or email. Kapwing’s Subtitler supports nearly all languages, including RTL languages like Hebrew and Arabic.
From an SRT: If you already have an SRT file with the text and timing of your subtitles, you can import it into Kapwing’s Subtitle Editor. Just use the “Upload SRT” button at the bottom of the editor and tweak the text by hand.
Step 3: Style the subtitles
Once your subtitles look right and are timed out according to the video, you can adjust the appearance of the text. The video preview shows you an approximation of what your video will look like after you click “Create.”
First, use the “Video Options” section to adjust the size of the subtitled video. In the dropdown menu, there’s a “Twitter” option to make your video 5:4, the ideal Twitter aspect ratio. Resizing your video lets you put the subtitles on a background above or below your video, a popular format on social media. Note: See Twitter's recommended sizes for Promoted Square Videos and App Card Ads in Kapwing's social media size template library.
If you’re planning to publish multiple versions of the video on different platforms, you can always come back to this screen and create versions of the video with different sizes. Kapwing has sizes that are ideal for Instagram (1:1), Youtube (16:9), and IGTV (9:16).
After you have set the aspect ratio of your video, explore the color, size, and background options to find the best look for your text. If you want something more unique than the regular white text on black background, you can set a custom color, choose from a huge library of fonts, or add a colored background. There are options to make the text italic and to change the color of the background. Check that you can still read the text as the video changes behind it.
You can also change where on the video your subtitles will appear. They can appear in the middle of the video, if you’re publishing a podcast audiogram or a short snippet, or align to the top or the bottom to avoid blocking the action. Just use the "Move up" and "Move down" buttons to position the subtitles on screen.
Before you click Create, watch your video preview at least twice! If your video is long, processing could take a couple of minutes, and you want to make sure there aren’t any typos before you wait.
Step 4: Download and publish to Twitter
After you’ve double checked your video, click “Create” to process the subtitles and add the captions directly into the video. In will take several seconds, but once Kapwing has processed your video you can view the subtitled video and share the web URL. If you see a typo, you can click “Edit” to adjust the subtitles. You can also use the Studio to add a title, background music, or a custom watermark.
Once you’ve created your video on Kapwing, you can download the MP4 to publish to Twitter. Now your video will have subtitles once you post it on Twitter! You can tweet it at us (@KapwingApp) for a like and follow.
Alternatively, you can download the SRT file from Kapwing and upload the subtitles to Twitter when you publish your video. This way, Twitter will only show the text on your video when the user turns on closed captions. Users must have a Kapwing Pro workspace to save the SRT file from Kapwing.
Kapwing is free to use. If you're using Kapwing for the first time, sign in to remove the watermark and save the video to a Kapwing Workspace. Kapwing’s Subtitle Maker supports videos up to 500 MB for free users or 1 GB for Pro Workspaces.