Tip #624: Not All Captions Look Alike

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #624: Not All Captions Look Alike


Captions are designed for simplicity, not fancy formatting.

SRT Caption formatting controls in Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Topic $TipTopic

When you import SRT files and XML files that have open caption data in them, Premiere Pro automatically converts these files to CEA-708 CC1 closed caption files. You can then edit these files and burn in the captions as subtitles while exporting using Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder.

However, SRT closed captions are designed for readability and flexibility, not formatting. The Federal Communications Commission’s rules about closed captioning include details about caption accuracy, placement, and synchronicity. They don’t say anything about formatting. Avoid problems – read this.

Captions are designed for readability and flexibility – you can turn them on or off, or choose between languages. Captions are not designed to be styled. All captions, except SCC, are designed to be stored in sidecar files. These are separate files from the media, but linked to it.

SCC captions, which can be embedded in the video itself — well, one language at least – are limited to two lines per screen each with only 37 characters per line. They also require a frame rate of 29.97 fps (either drop or non-drop frame). Yup, limited.

SRT captions are more flexible. SRT captions are known for simplicity and ease-of-use, especially when compared to other formats, many of which used XML-based code. It was adopted by YouTube as a caption format in 2008.

SRT captions only supports basic formatting changes including: font, color, placement and text formatting. HOWEVER, there is no clear standard for these style changes. Even if you apply them to your captions there is no guarantee that the software playing your movie will know how to interpret them.

For this reason, when exporting SRT files using File > Export > Media (screen shot), turn off Include SRT Styling for best playback results on other systems.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

4 replies
  1. Lisa Holloway
    Lisa Holloway says:

    Larry you recommended Simon Says in one of your webinars and I happened to be needing captions of a project at that time. The service worked really great. Appreciate the recommendation. I read about styling above. Does that include spacing between lines? (.srt files) The lines were super close and I couldn’t figure out how to change that. Can you?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      There are a lot of great captioning apps, I’m glad you like Simon Says. And, to the best of my knowledge, we don’t have line spacing control over SRT captions.



Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *