How to Add Subtitles in Adobe Premiere Pro (Tutorial)

Premiere Pro August 10, 2021 5 min read

No matter why you’re adding subtitles in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, the process might be easier than you think. Adding subtitles and captions adds time to your video production. But it does open up your content to new audiences and helps ensure that your video is seen. Let’s dive into learning how to add subtitles in Adobe Premiere.

Part 1: How to Add Captions in Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro has an intuitive interface to add captions to your next video production. To start working with it, go to the File > New > Captions option. On the pop-up window, you’ll first  see 4 options for adding subtitles to your finished video project:

  • CEA-608: This is a slightly outdated version of subtitles. It works on most devices but doesn’t include all of the features of the latest standards, CEA-708.
  • CEA-708: This is our recommended choice for adding subtitles. It combines enough device compatibility with the most recent features.
  • Teletext: Teletext is typically the European standard for adding subtitles.
  • Open Captions: Open captions are “burned into” the video file, meaning they can’t be toggled off in a video player. They’re hard encoded into the finished video file.

Typically, we recommend selecting the CEA-708 setting as the sweet spot between compatibility and features.

Part 2: How to Use & Edit Captions in Premiere Pro

As you start working with subtitles, it’s important that you can see at least these three panels in addition to your video project:

Adobe Premiere Pro has an intuitive interface to add captions to your next video production, but it is a little hidden away. There are also several panels you need open to view and edit your captions:

Project Browser: The project panel shows all of the files that are available to work within your Premiere project.

Captions Panel: The captions panel is the focus of this tutorial, as it includes all of the tools you need to add captions and subtitles to your video project.

Timeline: The timeline is a sequential view of the clips and effects in your Premiere project, and it controls where you’ll drop your captions in. Keep this panel in view to control where you add your captions.

  1. To start working with captions, go to the Captions tab; everything will be easier to see.
  2. Go to the Sequence > Captions > Add New Caption Track.
  3. In the pop-up window, you’ll see the4 options for adding subtitles to your finished video project.
  4. Select the CEA-708 setting as the sweet spot between compatibility and features. Click OK, and a Blank Captions Layer will be added to the top of the timeline.

Pro Tip: Build the captions from the Assembly view, with the panels mentioned above all showing simultaneously.

Using the Captions Panel

Once you’ve started to add a new subtitle to your Premiere project, then focus will turn to the Captions panel, where you can build and add the text overlays.

  1. In the Captions panel, press the + button to add your first caption.
  2. You’ll see a text box is added where you can add your captions. Type your caption into the box.
  3. On the timeline, the caption will be represented by a colored block.
  4. To adjust the timing of the caption, you can drag the box along the timeline and extend/shorten the ends of it.
  5. Once your first caption is correct and in place, click the + button again to add another title box. Remember to move your playhead along the timeline each time to ensure you’re not overwriting previous captions.

Customize Your Captions

There are a few options that you may want to tweak when you’re working with captions.

Also, it’s worth noting that other types of captions will add additional customization options. For example, choosing Open Captions will allow you to choose from a wide variety of fonts to add to your captions. (Remember: the Open Captions format “burns in” the captions on top of the video, basically adding it to the finished video file). You’ll see these options in the same panel based on your selection.

  1. If you want to modify the captions, just return to the panel and apply the tweaks to either the text or the relevant timestamp.
  2. To display more extended captions over 2 or more lines, use the Return button in the Caption Editor to create different lines.
  3. Select your captions in the timeline and go to the Essential Graphics panel. Here, you can adjust the color, alignments, fonts, and background of your captions.

Import & Export Settings for Captions

If you’re collaborating with others (like a translator) on your subtitle project, it helps to know a bit about importing and exporting the caption files. Instead of working within the same Premiere project (.prproj file format), you can take exported caption files and import them to your project.

  1. To export your captions, click the 3 dots in the top right corner of the Captions panel.
  2. Choose Export XML, name your file and choose a location.
  3. To import an SRT file, open up the Captions Tab and click Import Captions in the Captions panel.
  4. In the dialogue box, choose to use Source Timecode. All of your captions should then be correctly timed, though you may need to reselect your design preferences.

Part 3: Pro Tips & Troubleshooting

3 Tips for Using Captions

Here are 3 key reasons you probably want to add subtitles to your next video:

  1. Use subtitles to make your video accessible to those with hearing impairments who can’t listen to the audio while watching your video (thanks, considerate office co-workers!)
  2. Localize your video to a wider audience by translating their audio into captions in other languages.
  3. Search engines can index and rank your video content better if it includes searchable subtitles that the crawler can see.

Fix Captions Not Showing

The most common issue that you’ll run into while working with Adobe Premiere subtitles is that they aren’t showing when playing a preview. If this is your first time working with subtitles in Adobe Premiere, you’ll likely need to toggle them on and make them visible.

6 last add subtitle view

In Premiere Pro, click the plus button below your video preview. Then, toggle on the Closed Captions Display option. Make sure that you turn this on, and then your previews should play when previewing your video in Premiere.

3 Plugins to Try for Captions in Premiere Pro

While Adobe Premiere features a built-in tool, it’s not the only way to add text overlays to your latest video production.

  1. It is worth checking out is Trint, which automates the work of transcribing your audio. Thanks to its AI technology, Trint will automate much of the work of taking your audio and converting it to the appropriate text subtitles. This automation can save you a lot of time when you’re adding subtitles in Adobe Premiere.
  2. Another option is the SUGARfx Subtitles plugin. This plugin will help you work with subtitles in the common SRT format. This is a common subtitle format that allows you to add subtitles and work with files created by others.
  3. Finally, check out SubBits, an app that’s specifically built for subtitling. While this is a standalone app, it integrates nicely with a Premiere workflow. It’s tailormade for creating subtitles and makes it easy to jump to Premiere.

Remember, adding subtitles and captions in your Premiere Pro project will help improve the accessibility of your video production. Whether you’re adding them for a search engine or a listener with no sound access, it’s worth the time to consider adding captions. As you saw in this tutorial, it doesn’t take a lot of work to add them to your video — thanks to the captions panel. And hey, if you want to use a subtitle template instead, check this one out!