SRT vs. VTT: Understanding the Difference Between Subtitle Formats for Captions

According to a recent survey, 50% of users agreed that online videos must have captions. This study alone shows adding subtitles to your video content is highly beneficial. As a content creator, you can choose between two main subtitle formats: SRT and VTT. 

At first glance, SRT and VTT files may seem interchangeable, as they provide text that syncs with your video. However, these files can take a lot of time to create; thankfully, this can be solved by opting for documentary transcription services—more on that later.

In this article, you’ll learn

  • Captions are crucial for making your videos accessible and engaging, benefiting viewers with hearing difficulties, language barriers, or those watching in sound-sensitive environments. They can also boost overall watch time and audience retention.
  • SRT and VTT  are the two most common subtitle formats. While they both sync text with video, VTT offers additional styling and metadata features, making it ideal for web-based content.
  • Accurate subtitles are essential for certain types of videos, such as educational content, tutorials, interviews, promotional videos, legal and medical videos, multilingual content, and videos with complicated topics. Poor captions can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

What Is A Subtitle?

Subtitles are a way to display text along with a video to make the dialogue more accessible to viewers. It includes the words spoken and cues for timing and placement.

Subtitles also help make your video content accessible for people with hearing issues or language barriers, needing assistance understanding the content, or simply those who prefer reading the captions while watching the video. In the continental US alone, 92% of users view videos without sounds, making subtitles essential for any viewing experience. 

The most commonly used subtitle formats today are SRT and VTT. These formats provide standards for creating subtitles on different platforms and sharing them on different devices—quite handy, isn’t it?

Types Of Video Content That Can Benefit From Subtitles

Some video types and content formats—either through their inherent structure or the subject matter they tackle—can greatly benefit from subtitles. Here are some of them:

Types of VideosImportance of Accurate Subtitles
Educational VideosHelp students follow the content, especially if they have hearing difficulties, speak a different language, or are in a noisy place.
Tutorials or How-to videosMake it easier to understand step-by-step instructions, even if the audio is unclear.
Interviews or DocumentariesEnsure viewers don’t miss important information or conversations, especially with multiple speakers or background noise.
Promotional videosGrab the attention of people scrolling through social media with the sound off, helping your message reach more people.
Legal and medical videos:Important information is clearly and accurately shared.
Multilingual Content:Allow videos to reach people who speak different languages, expanding your audience worldwide.
Videos with technical or complex topicsHelp viewers understand difficult ideas and words by providing visual support and spoken information.

What Is a VTT File?

A VTT file is a subtitle format specifically for online videos, like the ones we see on YouTube. WebVTT (or simply VTT) stands for Web Video Text Tracks, and it’s like a script that tells the video what words to display and when. It’s not too different from other subtitle formats, like SRT, but it has features that make it work well with web-based video players, like Flowplayer, Clappr, Cloudinary, and more. 

VTT files include the dialogue text and time codes that sync the text to the video. They can also include metadata and styling information—colors and fonts—to make the subtitles look nicer. These files are a great way to make your online videos more accessible for people who need subtitles.

What Is an SRT File?

On the other hand, an SRT file is another subtitle format that has been used since the days of yore—and it’s quite common. SRT stands for SubRip Subtitle and is a simple way to add captions/subtitles to videos. Like VTT files, SRT files contain the text of the subtitles with timecodes that show when each line should appear and disappear.

However, SRT files don’t support some of the more fancy features found in WebVTT, like styling or metadata. Even so, SRT remains a go-to choice for many due to its simplicity and wider compatibility with media players and devices—not entirely because it got here first. 

What Is The Difference Between SRT and VTT?

The main difference between SRT and VTT files is their features and compatibility. SRT file format is more straightforward and has been the go-to choice for years, while VTT is a newer format for web-based videos with fancier options.

Let me elaborate. SRT has been around forever and is supported by most media players. It’s a straightforward format that gets the job done. SRT files are straightforward to create and edit, even with little technical know-how.

WebVTT files, on the other hand, are specifically for online content and are compatible with HTML5 video players. VTT has features that make it a better choice in certain situations. For one, VTT allows for more text styling. This can be useful to emphasize words or make your subtitles look more appealing. Plus, VTT works easily with HTML5 video players since they’re for web-based videos.

Is One Better Than The Other?

With all things equal, no file type is inherently better. 

It all depends on what you need it for, how you want to make it, and if you can utilize the specific format’s features to their full extent.

How to Create SRT and VTT files?

Creating SRT and VTT files is easier than you might think.

Creating SRT File

To make an SRT file, open a plain text editor like Notepad. Take a look at the example below. Begin each subtitle with a number, followed by the start and end times in an “hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds” format.

On the next line, type out the subtitle text itself. Then, leave a blank line before starting the next subtitle. Once you’ve added all your subtitles, save the text file name with a “.srt” extension.

That’s it! You now have a functional SRT subtitle file that you can use with your video, although this route will take a lot of time. 

srt file depiction

Creating a VTT file

Making a VTT file is pretty similar but with a few extra steps. Start by opening a plain text editor and adding “WEBVTT” on the first line. This tells the video player that it’s dealing with a VTT file. Then, add your subtitles in the same format as an SRT file “hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds” and subtitle text.

However, with VTT, you can also include cues to style your text, like fonts or making certain words bold or italic—see illustration. Once you’ve added all your subtitles and styling cues, save the file with a “.vtt” extension. Your VTT file is now ready to be used with your online video.

vtt file depiction for an article comparing srt and vtt files.

If you compare the text format with the SRT format, it’s clear that VTT can be much more complicated, meaning creating the file takes longer than creating SRT files.

Can you imagine doing this with a one-hour video with different people speaking over one another? You will pull all-nighters, especially if you’re not used to it. 

Good thing we have the perfect solution for you. 

Ditto Transcripts Can Produce The Most Accurate Subtitles Files

At Ditto Transcripts, we understand the importance of accurate captions for your video content’s accessibility. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to provide you with the easiest way to obtain high-quality transcripts in different formats. Do you need an SRT file? a VTT file? We’ll assist you with whatever subtitle format you need. 

Let Ditto Transcripts do the captioning, and you can rest assured that your captions will be created precisely. Our transcriptionists will manually transcribe your content and put it through quality checks as often as needed to ensure a 99%+ accuracy rate

Getting started with us is also very straightforward. You only need to send us your video or audio file through our secure online platform. 

Let us know your preferred file type, and we will handle the rest. Once the transcription is complete, we’ll generate your captions in the format you prefer, whether SRT, VTT, or any other format we support.

Let’s Discuss

Don’t let the hassle of creating subtitle files hold you back from making your videos accessible and engaging. 

Let Ditto Transcripts handle the heavy lifting for you. Our skilled transcriptionists will provide accurate captions in your preferred format with a 99% accuracy rate and quick turnaround times. This way, you can focus on creating great content while we care for the rest.

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services for businesses of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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