Skip to Content

Digital Accessibility

Open vs. Closed Captions

Your decision about whether to use open or closed captioning will depend on your video and where you'd like to publish it. 

Choosing Between Open and Closed Captions

Open captions are burned into the video itself. Closed captions are uploaded to a video hosting service and displayed by the video player when the viewer turns on closed captioning. 

  • Pros of Open Captions

    • Give the editor control over how and where captions display.
    • Can be added to videos on platforms that don't support closed captioning, such as Instagram.
    • Always available without having to configure a media player's settings.
  • Cons of Open Captions

    • Harder for the editor to add to a video.
    • Can't be turned off by the viewer.
    • May be hard to read on small or compressed videos.
    • The user can't search for video content in the captioning text because it's embedded in the video.

  • Pros of Closed Captions

    • Easiest to implement for the editor.
    • May be customized by the viewer on some platforms.
    • Can be turned on or off by the viewer.
    • The user can search for video content in the captioning text.
  • Cons of Closed Captions

    • Not offered by all platforms, such as Instagram. They are supported by Facebook, LinkedIn, X, Vimeo, and YouTube.
    • Requires the user to understand how to turn captions on or off.


Writing Your Captions

The Captioning Key provides a set of general guidelines for how to write quality captions, developed by Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP).

The guidance in the Captioning Key can help you write readable and understandable captions, regardless of whether you're writing open captions or closed captions.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.