closed verses open captions

If you go to all the trouble of creating a video for LinkedIn you really need to add captions.

Why? Because the default on LinkedIn is for videos to play with the sound off.

That means your video shows up in the newsfeed as a silent movie. Who has the time or patience to figure out what you’re saying? Which means most folks will simply scroll on past.

Here’s why captioning your video on LinkedIn is a must:
  • Subtitles give the viewer a hint of what you’re talking about.
  • Subtitles can catch a person’s eye as they’re scrolling.
  • Subtitles allow people to watch your entire video with the sound off.
  • Subtitles are necessary for anyone that is hearing impaired.

So, if you want to make your videos more attractive, engaging, and accessible to everyone, adding subtitles must be a part of your video strategy.

Okay. So now we can agree that subtitles are a must for LinkedIn. We need to talk about closed captions vs. open captions.

First off, let’s discuss the difference so we’re on the same page.

Closed Captions

Closed captions are created by including a separate SRT (Sub Rip Text) file. When you upload your video to LinkedIn, you upload both a video file and SRT file at the same time.

Don’t know how to create an SRT file? Have no fear, I’ll cover that later

So when you upload both your video and SRT files together, LinkedIn will display captions at the bottom of your video. These captions always look the same – white text on a black background. You can’t make any changes to the font type, size, or color.

Closed captions are easy to read and their display is dynamic. When you click on the video’s play bar, the closed captions automatically move up above the play bar. This creates a seamless reading experience for your viewer.

example screenshot of closed captions

One of the real advantages of closed captions is that they can be toggled on or off, by clicking the CC button.

Finally, the same SRT file used on LinkedIn can be used on other platforms as well. Closed captions work nicely on Facebook, Vimeo, Wistia, and YouTube. As a special note about YouTube, closed captions are actually their preferred method for captioning. YouTube allows video creators to include multiple subtitle files in different languages. This allows viewers to select the language that meets their needs.

While I am currently living in Israel, many of the YouTube videos here are naturally in Hebrew. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the ability to toggle on English subtitles. So thank you to all the YouTube video creators that provide translations.

Last, but certainly not least, closed captions are very good for SEO. The Google Search bots have the ability to scan and index the text contained in a SRT file. This allows your YouTube videos to be found in the Google Search results.

I’m not really sure if Google indexes LinkedIn’s newsfeed content? But if it does, those SRT files provide text that can be crawled and indexed by Google.

Disadvantages of Closed Captions?

Sometimes LinkedIn drops the ball and doesn’t display the closed captions you uploaded. I think this has only happened to me once. And, that’s with me posting many many videos.

To account for that weird LinkedIn quirk, I always check my video after uploading. If the captions don’t display I simply delete the post and upload the files again.

Open Captions

Open captions are subtitles that are burned directly into your video.

With open captions you have total control of the font type, size, color, and background. Most important, you get to decide exactly where exactly the captions will display on your video.

Depending upon what video software tools you use, you can even have the captions displayed off the video and onto the background canvas of your video.

With open captions, there’s a lot of room for creativity and flexibility. Most important, you can choose a color scheme to match your brand.

example screenshot of open captions

What many people find especially appealing about using open captions is that they make the job of uploading your videos to LinkedIn easier. With open captions there’s only one file to worry about. Plus, what you see is exactly what you get, which helps eliminate the anxiety of adding captions.

Disadvantages of Open Captions?

Yes, there are some disadvantages of using open captions. The biggest is that open captions can’t be turned off. If the viewer doesn’t like them – that’s too bad.

Also, the display quality of open captions is a direct result of the video they are burned in to. So if your video’s resolution is low quality and blurry, your captions won’t look good either. This means you must aim for the highest video resolution possible. An important feature for when you choose what video tools to use.

With open captions you’re in control of the font type, size, color, and background. But, this means you run the risk of making poor choices. Some font styles and sizes are very difficult to read. In addition, poor color combinations can be challenging for any viewers who are color-blind. So, please choose your fonts and colors wisely.

One of the biggest disadvantages is that depending upon where you situate the captions, the video play bar could be displayed right over the top. Sadly that could mean people don’t even notice your video has captions and scroll on past. (I have seen lots of people on LinkedIn make this mistake. 😞)

Last, know that burned in captions are not always the best for repurposing your videos on other social media platforms, especially YouTube. The Google bots can’t scan open captions because the words are burned into the video and no longer seen as text. So open captions will not get as much SEO love as closed captions.

If you do decide to use open captions, be sure to do lots of testing. Make sure you view your videos on LinkedIn using both a computer and mobile device. Check your font size, type, colors, and placement. Once you know what combinations work best, stick to that as your standard open caption creation practice.


In this video tutorial (an excerpt from one of my video classes), I walk you through the difference between Open vs Closed Captions. I also share a quick demo of how to upload your video and captions to LinkedIn.

How to Create Closed and Open Captions

My favorite tool for creating both closed and open captions is Subly. They have such an easy peasy process. Simply upload your video to their platform and they automagically transcribe your videos. Once your video is transcribed, you have the option of making any edits.

You can then download the SRT file and you’re good to go for closed captions. Or, you can completely custom-style your captions and download a video file with the captions burned right in.

Subly has both a free forever and a Pro Plan. Which is why they are the number one program I recommend for captioning your videos.

For anyone that wants to create closed captions without having to do any work whatsoever, I highly suggest you check out: Their team will do all the work for you. Simply upload your video file and within 24 hours they will provide you with a picture perfect SRT file. You can then take that file and upload it with your video to LinkedIn.

Rev is not a free service. Their fee is $1.25 per minute. But, if you’d like to get $10 off your first order, use this link:

As for me, I am a strong supporter of Subly. I prefer using closed captions for all of my videos. I publish videos on many platforms: LinkedIn, Vimeo, Facebook, and YouTube. In the end, I find that using an SRT file works best for my video needs.

Here’s the link to check out Subly:


In this video tutorial, I walk you through how to use Subly to create both closed and open captions. Subly offers both a Free Forever plan, as well as a Pro plan. I suggest you start off with the free plan first.

gillian whitney
Hi, I’m Gillian Whitney, a LinkedIn Live Stream Strategist & Coach making live video easy peasy. Working with B2B professionals from around the world, to leverage LinkedIn Live to be discovered, noticed, and recognized on LinkedIn®