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Subtitle formats: what are they and which ones to use?

You don't know which subtitle format to use and how to use it ? We show you the way among the numerous possibilities

Jean-Marc
March 18, 2021

You want to subtitle your video and don’t know in which format to transcribe it?

There are many subtitle files out there. Other than well-known SRT and VTT formats, there are less popular files that are yet in demand by some software. You may also seek a format with more flexible customization. Not easy to find your way around !

So how do you make the right choice? We give you our list to guide you through all these possibilities.

Why is the choice of subtitle format important?

The choice of the subtitle format you use is not trivial. For your transcript file to work, it needs to comply to a specific structure. For example, if you have created a TXT file of your video’s dialogue, it won’t work for most video players. So you need to arrange it according to a fairly precise coding.

Fortunately, most video players and software support more universal formats like SRT and VTT. But some video editors may request a rarer format (like ASS or TTML).

In any case, choosing the format that best suits your needs will help you to :

Want to learn more? We have what you need in the following.

Which subtitle formats should I use?

In terms of encoding, subtitle formats provide various features and compatibility. Each file shows its own strengths and weaknesses for transposing text data. Here are the most popular ones, to give you an idea of which one you can use.

SRT (SubRip)

The most universal format. It is supported by almost all software, platforms and social networks. It has a relatively simple structure. You just have to indicate the sequence number, the time code and the text, and that’s it. However, it does not customize the appearance of your subtitles.

WebVTT (Web Video Text Tracks)

The new kid on the block, VTT was designed to add subtitles to HTML5 pages. It has established itself as one of the most convenient files for displaying and customizing subtitles. It works on most video platforms, but on very few social platforms.

TTML (Timed Text Markup Language)

Formerly DFXP, TTML is a technical format used most often by the television, streaming and VOD industries. It allows to encode and transpose text data into video streams. It is very customizable for this purpose. It can also be used for live audio streams.

SSA (SubStation Alpha)

This format is more advanced than SRT and is one of the formats that encode the most visual and timing settings. It is widely used by anime fans to do their own subtitling. It’s even more advanced version ASS (Advanced SubStation Alpha) has even more precise graphic and textual features. Furthermore, it allows you to make animated subtitles and lyrics for karaoke videos.

STL

EBU-STL is popular among broadcast channels and VOD service to encode their subtitles. Although it is regulated by many rules regarding the number of characters, it is very customizable in terms of colors and positioning. It also adapts to a variety of video frequencies.

EBU-TT

The Modern successor of STL, the format is used by the BBC and many TV channels. It is a mix between TV broadcasting formats and digital subtitle formats. It was created to easily distribute, archive and stream text data in various video streams. With almost no limitations like SRT, it is the ultimate subtitle format for broadcast professionals and companies.

Subtitle files: which ones are the most supported

Social media subtitle formats

Video platforms subtitle formats

Subtitle software formats

Easy subtitle file generator : Checksub

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