A Guide to Picking the Best Fonts for Clear Subtitles and Closed Captioning

 

In the professional film industry, there are many reasons why you might need to use subtitles and captions in your videos. Whether you’re shooting documentaries that require information to be conveyed on screen, or if you’re simply trying to supply translation captions for interviews, text on screen can often play an important role in your production.

The real trick for working with these text-on-screen situations for subtitles and captions generally comes down to these three factors: clarity, comprehension and ease on the eye. Your goal really is to provide text that is clear and informative, yet not distracting or impeding of your other visual information on screen.

While there are always some quick tricks like adding outlines or drop-shadow to make text pop, your choice of font is perhaps the most important decision in the process. Trial and error and an eye test might be the best way to know for sure, but to help you get started. Here are seven recommended fonts for your subtitles and captions for your videos.

Best Fonts for Subtitles and Captions

1. Lucida Grande

Lucida Grande Font for Captions and Subtitles

The new default for Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019, Lucida Grande is a clear and simple sans serif font that is actually a pretty solid option right out of the box when pulling text into Adobe Premiere Pro. I wouldn’t worry too much about it being recognized as a “default font” as you’d have to be pretty familiar with this version of Premiere Pro to be able to call it out.

2. Arial

Arial Font for Captions and Subtitles

Another simple and safe sans serif font to try out first is Arial. In the case of captions and subtitles, you’re not usually looking for anything flashy or distracting. Arial has been a popular pick for years because of its distinctive lack of distinction. You can also try out Arial Black, but that gets a little bulky when working with longer sentences.

3. STIXGeneral

STIXGeneral Font for Captions and Subtitles

A more sophisticated serif option, STIXGeneral is a great, clear look for documentaries or video journalism projects. Because of its regalness, it is also great for titles or white text preambles over black to help set exposition or tell a story. It might be a little too fancy though if you’re using tons and tons of text throughout. But worth a try if you’re looking to add some esteem to your project.

4. Verdana

Verdana Font for Captions and Subtitles

A popular and very modern option, Verdana is a solid choice for projects dealing with technology, innovation or industry. A sturdy serif font, Verdana looks tightly constructed and doesn’t take much unnecessary space at the bottom of the screen for subtitles. If you’re working with short or feature film projects, it’s also seen often with sci-fi type projects.

5. Helvetica Neue

Helvetica Neue Font for Captions and Subtitles

A font so popular that it has its own documentary on it, Helvetica is truly a famous (and now recognizable) typeface these days. However, Helvetica Neue might surpass it if not just for its diversity of options. In Premiere Pro, you can choose from the following font types:

  • Condensed Bold
  • Condensed Black 
  • UltraLight
  • UltraLight Italic
  • Thin
  • Thin Italic
  • Light
  • Light Italic
  • Regular
  • Italic
  • Medium
  • Medium Italic
  • Bold
  • Bold Italic

Which truly gives you a full range for deciding on just how much space your text might need in any given situation. For this example we’re looking at Helvetica Neue Regular.

6. Times

Times Font for Captions and Subtitles

Similar to its brother font, Times New Roman, the Times font is just a little bit preferable for its more simplistic approach. Again, a serif typeface for added sophistication, Times seems to be what we associate with a true “default” font to those who might be familiar with it from the heyday of Microsoft Word. Yet, even if it wasn’t your personal preference then, it does stick out to people as being “a regular font” and non-distracting because of this.

7. Futura

Futura Font for Captions and Subtitles

A personal favorite of ours, Futura is a flexible sans serif font that is great in just about every situation. We like it as a regular font, but would also recommend its condensed typeface version when you really need to cram a good deal of text into a small space. It remains remarkably clear. You might see it pretty often in viral social media videos where text on screen is key.

All these fonts should be available without download in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019, however, if you’re in a different editing program or can’t find any of them for any reason. Here are some free font download websites to check out. (You can also browse thousands of other options here too!)

What are your favorite fonts for captions or subtitles? Let us know in the comments below!