The Best (and Worst) Font Colors for Closed Captions on Videos
When you spend the time, energy, and money to produce a high-quality piece of video content, you want to make sure to get its message across to as many viewers as possible. That’s why adding captions—text on the screen that indicate spoken words, background noises, musical cues, and speaker differentiation—is always a great option.
Why should I add captions?
Before we get into best practices for caption colors, here’s a bit of background information on why it’s important to add captions to all of your video content. They benefit the deaf and hard of hearing, of course, but there are other compelling reasons to use them as well.
Consider this: a 2019 survey of consumers in the U.S. found that 92% view videos with the sound off on mobile, and 83% of users overall watch video with sound off. That’s an astounding statistic! This same study indicated that 80% of viewers are more likely to watch a video to completion when there’s a real-time text version of the dialogue and other audio cues on the screen.
There are a number of reasons why consumers like having text on the screen. Perhaps they’re in a noisy location and don’t have headphones. Maybe they’re waiting in line and don’t want to be a nuisance to the other people around them. They could also be multitasking and needing to stay aware of other things happening around them.
More to the point, when you upload a video to the internet, it becomes accessible to people all over the world—and adding lines of text to the screen means that you expand the overall reach of your content. Even if the captions aren’t in a viewer’s native language, many people find it easier to follow along with some form of written text rather than having nothing at all.
Okay, I’m sold on captions. What are the top considerations?
Now that we’ve established the benefits of having captions for your viewers, there are three primary factors to consider when adding text to the screen: clarity, comprehension, and ease on the eye. Your objective is to provide text that is easy to understand and informative, yet also not distracting or a hindrance to the other visual information being conveyed on-screen.
Although there are certainly some quick tricks to make your captions pop—like adding a black background behind the text or a drop shadow to the characters, to name a couple—your selection of font color is one the most important decisions you’ll make in the process.
Tell me how to select an ideal font color.
Of course, you’ll want to test your on-screen text to verify that it meets accessibility requirements and to make sure that the font is legible. But generally speaking—and this probably seems obvious—the text needs to be readable regardless of the color of the background image.
Here’s a simple rule: make your captions white text and select a sans-serif font that’s not too bulky (more on font best practices here). Then, add a thin dark outline, either black or a deep blue. Boom—your captions will be readable irrespective of the background color. Yellow is another popular color for text on the screen and is readable in most situations.
The worst choices for font color are those which strain the eye or are jarring to the viewer. Neon green and pink are just a couple examples of captions that won’t be pleasing to people consuming your video content. You’ll also want to avoid any sort of color gradient or texture.
Rev is your partner for video captioning
At Rev, the worldwide leader in captioning services, our closed captions are totally customizable, so you can optimize your caption colors for accessibility purposes and for easier readability.
And captions aren’t the only professional on-screen text service offered by Rev—not by a long shot. We also offer subtitles, transcriptions, and live captions for Zoom—all at a speed, accuracy, and cost unmatched by any of our competitors.
Click here to get started with your caption order. You just need to provide the video file (we accept most common file formats, or you could provide a link to where it’s publicly hosted), then select the language and your desired turnaround time. Our global network of human captioning experts will deliver 99 percent accurate, editable files directly to your email inbox—no extra work for you or your team required.