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ARCHIVED: What is captioning?

Captions show the audio from television content as text on your screen. Captions help viewers with a hearing impairment.

How captions appear

Captions may appear one word at a time. These are scrolling captions. You usually see them when someone is typing each word as the program is broadcast.

Whole lines of captions may appear all at once. This is ‘block captioning’. It happens when the broadcaster prepares captions ahead of the program.

Different coloured text shows different speakers. The colour may not always show that a particular person is speaking. The colour depends on how many speakers and the number of colours available.

When a captioner inserts 2 dashes (--), this may show they made a mistake. If they correct it, this may appear a few words later, out of context in the sentence.

If your captions freeze or appear jumbled, you may need to fix your TV reception.

Find out how broadcasters make captions in our video, Captioning - Behind the scenes

You can also download a transcript of the video.

The difference between captions and subtitles

Captions show on the screen and are the text version of speech and other sounds. ‘Closed captions’ only display if the viewer chooses to turn them on.

Subtitles also display what is being said on screen. Usually, they translate the spoken language into another language.

We can only help with complaints about captions. Contact the broadcaster to complain about subtitles.

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