In a world where most people watch social media with the sound off, captions are essential for reaching an audience. To capture people’s attention, you need text to quickly convey your message instead of relying on audio. Even if your video has no dialogue, adding subtitles makes your ad or feed video more compelling and noticeable. It makes people more likely to stop scrolling and watch your video all the way through on Instagram.

Subtitles also make your video more accessible to people with hearing impediments and more clear to people with different languages/accents. It’s also perfect for subtitle memes, lyric videos, and translations.

In this tutorial, I’ll describe you how to add subtitles to a video for Instagram, IGTV, or Instagram Stories. This technique is called “open captioning,” meaning that the subtitles will appear for every user without them having to turn the titles on. Here are the five easy steps to adding subtitles on an Instagram video:

  1. Upload video
  2. Add subtitles
  3. Time out your subtitles
  4. Choose style options
  5. Download and publish to Instagram

This tutorial uses a free website called Kapwing to add the subtitles directly and permanently to your video.  We recommend Kapwing because it’s a free, online tool optimized just for adding subtitles rather than a generic video editor.

Step 1: Upload video

Open the Kapwing Studio and upload your video. You can either select the video from your computer or you can import the video from a URL, if it’s already posted on YouTube, Instagram, or another website.

Choose a size and color for the background of your Instagram video. Instagram feed videos are cropped to square, so I recommend 1:1. If you're posting on IGTV or your Instagram Story, use the 9:16 aspect ratio.

Instagram videos must be less than 1 minute (60 seconds) long. Select the video and click "Trim" to choose the part of the video you want to post on Instagram. You can also add jump cuts to make the video shorter.

Trimmer view in Studio

Step 2: Add Subtitles

Now that the video is the right size and length for Instagram, it's time to add subtitles. Open the "Subtitles" tab in the main toolbar to get started.

Get started typing subtitles

You can auto-generate your captions, import an SRT file, or manually transcribe the video yourself. As you add subtitles, you’ll see your video playing with the added subtitles in the left-hand preview.

  • To manually transcribe, listen to the video and type the dialogue you hear. Just type the text you want to appear into the text box on the right and click “+ Add subtitle” to insert a new line.
  • To automatically get captions for your Instagram video, use the green “Auto-generate” button in the bottom of the editor. Select the language and accent of the Instagram video. This feature uses leading AI technology to recognize and transcribe the voice in your video.
  • If you’re on a computer, Kapwing also an option to upload an SRT file, if you already have subtitles created on another site (like YouTube or Rev). You can then burn the .SRT captions directly into the video so that they appear permanently when you publish on Instagram.

After you've typed or generated the subtitles, watch the video preview all the way through to tweak, edit, and perfect the spelling, punctuation, and timing of the subtitles so that you don’t lose quality.

Step 3: Time out your subtitles

Once all of the text has been added, start your video over and time out the subtitles so that they’re aligned with the audio. On a computer, use the space bar to start and stop the video. You can change the start and end time of each subtitle by dragging the sliders or clicking the “Set to current time” button below the timestamp as the video plays.

The subtitles will show over the video preview. You can also remove a subtitle, if you decide to merge it with another one. To split a subtitle into two, use the “Duplicate” button, remove the end/beginning section of text from the respective subtitle, and adjust their end/start time.

Step 4: Choose your style options

Now that you’re subtitles are in place, use the options on the left to change the video’s appearance.

Then, use the “Subtitle options” selectors to style your subtitle text:

  • Font: Change the subtitle font using the dropdown. Kapwing has a huge library with hundreds of fonts that you can search for to match your brand. If you're a Kapwing Pro subscriber, you can even upload a custom brand font as a TTF file to use for the subtitles.
  • Font size: Make your text larger or smaller so that it takes up less of the screen. Apply bold or italic styling.
  • Font color: Change the text from white to black or another color.
  • Position: Move the subtitles to the top, center, or bottom of video. You can also choose left, right, or center alignment and move the subtitles up and down.
  • Background: Add a semi-opaque background, an outline, or a full stripe to make the text more readable on the video.

Step 5: Download and publish to Instagram

Play back the whole video one more time to check that the subtitles don’t have typos or overlap each other on the timeline. Once you’re comfortable with your video preview, click Export Video to process your subtitled video.

Kapwing will show loading text as it burns your subtitles permanently into the video. Once your video is done processing, you can download the MP4 directly to your phone and publish it to your Instagram feed, Story, or IGTV channel! You can also go back and “Edit” the subtitles if you notice there is a typo or if you want to download the captioned video in a different size.

We hope the Kapwing Subtitle Maker enables more video creators to add subtitles to Instagram Videos with ease! The tool can also be used for LinkedIn videos, Twitter videos, Snaps, or other social media platforms. Thanks for reading this article and for making the effort to make your Instagram videos more accessible.