8 Essential Subtitle Customization Techniques to Boost Your Video Engagement

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In a world where everyone wants to create content, the most engaging creator takes home the prize. And if you want to be that creator in your niche you need to understand subtitle customization.

Subtitle customization in content creation refers to making specific choices to make your content captions more engaging. These decisions could range from font size and color to animation style and words-per-utterance.

In this resource, you will learn Maximizing Engagement with Subtitle Customization Techniques, including:

  1. Selecting the best font for audience retention

  2. Choosing the right color for your audience (Color Psychology)

  3. Applying a drop shadow or lift to the subtitles

  4. Using a word highlighter or indicator for a tunnel vision effect

  5. Leveraging text animation for impactful captions

  6. Contextualizing captions according to the platform

  7. Altering Subtitle Length

  8. Varying subtitle positions (for long-form content)

But before we get into these methods, let’s go over why they’re important. This will help you make the right customization choices for your audience.

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The Importance Of Subtitle Customization In Enhancing Viewer Experience

Attention spans are decreasing globally, and subtitles have become an essential tool in combating this deficit. Knowing this, you can optimize your content captions to maximize audience retention. You want viewers' eyes to be fixated on your video captions instead of wandering to the related videos tab.

Customizing subtitles can help you achieve this by reducing friction. Focusing is hard, and attention is precious, which is why there is friction any time you try to pay attention to something. Subtitles are meant to reduce that friction and make it easier to focus on the content of your video.

So, moving forward, remember to keep in mind that each customization choice you make is meant to minimize friction and maximize ease of consumption.

Selecting The Best Font For Audience Retention

The first way to customize subtitles is via fonts. When you look at how different font styles impact viewer readability and retention, you will see that heavy-body fonts cause the least friction to focus. They are easier to follow.

Arial and Impact are just two examples of sans-serif heavy-body fonts that are often used for subtitling. Our content-multiplying platform gives you the option to use popular heavy-body fonts for your content captions. It also lets you upload your own fonts for brand consistency.

If you’re using Fiverr or Workana to hire a font designer for your content captions, give them the following instructions:

  • Make a sans-serif font - Serif fonts are harder to follow on-screen.

  • Make a heavy-body font - Subheading-style fonts are best for short-form content captions.

  • Leave room for a bold version - Don’t make the font bold by default.

  • Make the font stand out - The font should seem unique to your brand.

Choosing The Right Color For Your Audience (Color Psychology)

Color psychology in subtitles is quite important because you don’t want to use caption colors that work against you. Below are the most common colors used for content captions alongside their respective connotations. Bookmark this post to revisit this list in the future.

  • White - Neutral - This is the most common subtitle color in the world. It is best used with a black outline/border.

  • Yellow - Attention-inspiring - Yellow might as well be the second most common caption color. It works very well against most backgrounds.

  • Red - Alertness-inducing - Red is a color best used in moderation. It can help you emphasize a point.

  • Green - Easygoing - Green captions do not inspire anxiety or an intense desire to follow. So, if you use this color, make sure to animate your captions.

  • Sky Blue - Peaceful - Sky Blue content captions are best used for personal development and meditation content.

  • Pink - Feminine - If you have a feminine brand, then you might use pink in your content captions. But this is not a hard and fast rule.

Applying A Drop Shadow Or Lift To The Subtitles

You might have noticed that the best subtitles are ones that stand out against a black backdrop. That's because content captions have black subtitles or a solid underlay. But you can also increase your captions' legibility with drop-shadows and lifts.

A drop shadow creates a shadow layer under the text, giving each character the appearance of floating above its background. A lift uses the same principle, but the shadow is broader and less transparent.

Using A Word Highlighter Or Indicator For A Tunnel Vision Effect

As mentioned earlier, the goal of subtitle customization is to make your content easier to follow. A word highlighter reduces focus friction by highlighting the individual word that is being uttered by the speaker at any given moment. So, the viewer can simply tunnel vision on the highlighter and really focus on the content.

However, word highlighters are hard to apply without specialized software. You would need to highlight 200 words for every minute of video. Fortunately, ContentFries has an automatic word highlighter that allows users to differentiate currently spoken word by a different font color and background color.

Leveraging Text Animation For Impactful Captions

If you have watched any YouTube Short with over a million views, chances are you have seen dynamic subtitles. These are subtitles that use animation and timing to highlight key messages.

For dynamic subtitles, you need a content editing program that emphasizes subtitles. Editors dedicated to creating TikTok content usually offer subtitle optimization.

But if you're making content for multiple platforms, try ContentFries, which allows users to combine up to 3 different animations to make subtitles more dynamic. Users can also apply rotation randomizer or text effects.

This video is an example of a YouTube Short with these features enabled.

We would recommend human voice-over and fast-paced visuals for even better retention.

Contextualizing Captions According To The Platform

Different platforms have different placements for the creator's username, captions, etc. So, captions placed at the bottom of the screen might be clearly visible on one platform but obscured by platform elements on another. That's why it is advisable to adjust your caption placement according to the platform and the context in which it will be viewed.

You can go a step further and alter specific aspects like caption color and font size for each platform. On Instagram, your reels may have yellow captions and your TikToks may have white captions. The fonts and drop shadow can also vary. The same video when posted to LinkedIn might have sleek-and professional-looking captions, but on YouTube Shorts can have a heavy attention-grabbing font.

Now, the question is, is it worth the effort to change so many caption specifics with each new upload? Perhaps not manually. But ContentFries allows you to create different subtitle styles for different platforms very easily.

For this, the platform has a context system, where users can create subtitles for their primary platform, for example, Instagram Reels, then switch to TikTok or LinkedIn context and make any customizations there.

The platform also has brand kit tools that allow you to save font choices for subtitles. Again, this saves a lot of time because there are no do-overs.

Altering Subtitle Length

Another great way to customize subtitles for optimal engagement is to vary subtitle length. Caption length needs to be altered based on context as well as the audience’s attention span.

Fewer words on the screen create intrigue regarding upcoming words. This curiosity can make short-form content consumers stick around. Longer captions are easier to follow in a traditional video context.

In longer pieces like Facebook Watch or YouTube videos, you should add sentence-long subtitles. For TikTok and other short form contexts, you should show three to four words at a time. You can also use the word highlighter discussed earlier.

Varying Subtitle Positions (For Long-Form Content)

Caption placement is an aspect of video subtitles that you can customize for readability. But you can also customize it for engagement.

Here's how:

  • Placement One - For readability - Putting video captions slightly above the absolute bottom of the frame so that they are not covered up by the creator name and video description.

  • Placement Two - For engagement - Putting video captions at the center of a podcast clip, making it easier to consume.

In longer videos, you can take it a step further and vary caption placement between individual captions.

The first caption could appear at the bottom of the screen. Then, the next one can show up in the middle. After that, a caption might show up at the top. Following the caption, placement can then become a game. And games maximize engagement.

Just remember not to make the caption placements too random. Place newer captions closer to older ones, so they're easy to follow.

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Case Studies On Successful Subtitle Customization Strategies

Now that you know the eight ways to customize captions for audience retention, let's look at these tactics in action.

Andrew Shultz - Uk Tour Stop Promo

In this Short, Shultz uses red captions instead of his standard yellow and white subtitles. This aligns with the colors of the UK flag as well as the desired effect (alertness/attention). You, too, can change up your content's caption colors depending on the subject matter.

Gary Vee - Work Ethic Short

In this video, Gary Vee uses multiple colors to create an engaging contrast. Vaynerchuck also uses drop shadow under his subtitles for better readability. You can use multiple colors and even multiple fonts to maximize engagement with contrast. Remember to add a drop shadow for further readability.

Tony Jefferies - Mike Tyson Fight Commentary

In the above video, Tony uses dynamic subtitles and animated captions to maximize engagement. He also pairs green and white subtitles to produce visual variety and reduce friction.

Mrbeast - Private Island Comparison

In this video, MrBeast uses subtitles for every monetary amount mentioned in the first thirty seconds. The initial thirty seconds are crucial for engagement. And MrBeast uses anchored subtitles to maximize audience retention during these critical seconds.

The value of the private island is anchored to the island, so as the camera moves, the numbers stay in the same place. MrBeast also uses a rounded font that is easier on the eyes compared to block letters.

Filmspeak - Marvel Movies Commentary

FilmSpeak opens this video with three words: Dear, Kevin, Feige… and each one is displayed on the screen as it is uttered. This is a great example of customizing caption length. FilmSpeak could have easily placed "Dear Kevin Feige" in a single caption. However, reducing subtitle length to one word sells the impact of each word.

The creator also uses captions sparingly, which reduces fatigue in long-form content. Sometimes, following too many captions can feel like a chore.

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Tools And Software For Creative Subtitle Customization

If the information above has increased your interest in subtitle customization, then you need to check out the following tools.

  • ContentFries - This platform allows you to create hundreds of clips from long form videos. It also offers AI captions and has subtitle animation capabilities. You can get started for free with 1000 content credits.

  • Rev.com - Get your content transcribed by a human. This is a little pricey but can be well worth the investment for bigger content creators.

  • CapCut - CapCut has a powerful auto-captioning feature for mobile editing.

  • Fiverr - With Fiverr, you can outsource content editing and caption animation to a freelancer. This lets you focus on what you do best: create content.

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Best Practices For Subtitle Customization

Whether you choose our tool, ContentFries, or any other tool for customizing your captions, remember to follow these practices for maximum effect.

Test Different Subtitle Styles

For each customization choice, try different variations and see how your choices affect audience retention. For example, when it comes to color, try green, blue, and yellow captions in separate videos to see which one gets the best results. Do the same for font choice and text size. Keep experimenting to keep learning.

Scout Your Competition

One way to learn is via your competition. See what works for the top creators in your niche and adopt it. Do not copy your competition, though. Simply copy their principles. Are they using a bigger text size? Are their captions animated? How many words do they include in each caption?

Don't Alter Too Much At Once

Finally, remember not to change too much too quickly. You can stack multiple customizations, as long as you stack them tastefully. Experimenting and improving is a gradual process, and if you rush it, you will scare away your audience and confuse the algorithm.

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Final Thoughts

Subtitles are a great vehicle for engagement. And their performance can be improved with the right color, font, and size selection. You can further customize your content captions with dynamic animation, color pairing, and strategic placement. Follow the tactics and the practices covered in this resource to get the most out of your video subtitles.