This guide reviews key elements in the visual appearance of captions.

The following information has been adapted from the Described and Captioned Media Program's Captioning Key


Basic Rules

  1. It is preferred that there are no more than two lines per caption.
  2. A line of captions should be no longer than 32-36 characters.
  3. Each caption should be on screen no less than one second.
  4. Captions should be consistent throughout a video.

Line Division

  1. Do not break a modifier from the word it modifies.
    • Mark pushed
      his black truck.
  1. Do not break a prepositional phrase.
    • Mary scampered
      under the table.

  2. Do not break a person's name or a title from the name with which it is associated.
    • Bob and Susan Smythe
      are at the movies.

  3. Do not break a line after a conjunction.
    • In seconds she arrived,
      and he ordered a drink.

  4. Do not break an auxiliary verb from the word it modifies.
    • Mom said I could have gone
      to the movies.

  5. Never end a sentence and begin a new sentence on the same line unless they are short, related sentences containing one or two words.


  • When quotation marks are around a phrase spanning two or more captions, place quotation marks at the beginning of each caption, except for the caption containing the end of the quote - it should only contain a closing quotation mark.

  • Hyphenated words must remain on one line.

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