Best Free Fonts For Closed Captions In Videos


Is your content editor pushing "premium" fonts that are more expensive than a month of Netflix? Or does it have a library of free fonts but none of them are good enough for videos?

The best free fonts for closed captions in videos are PT Sans Caption and PT Serif Caption. These fonts are designed to be used as standard subtitles. For TikTok-style captions that occupy a large area, you can consider Lato Black, Vollkorn Black, and Playfair Display ExtraBold.

In this article, you will discover more free fonts for closed captions in videos alongside the contexts where these fonts work. But before getting into the long list, here are the top 5 fonts for video subtitles.

  • PT Sans Caption by ParaType

  • PT Serif Caption by ParaType

  • Oleo Script by Soytutype fonts

  • Playfair Display by Claus Eggers Sørensen

  • Roboto by Christian Robertson


Ten free fonts for closed captions in videos

No single font is universally considered the best one for captioning videos. A creator's preference is the key deciding factor in his subtitle font choice. From TikTok to Instagram, most social media platforms allow creators to choose from multiple fonts.

When you use an independent program to caption your content, though, your choices are virtually limitless. This section narrows down your options to the ten best fonts that are ideal for video captions.

PT Sans Caption by ParaType

As its name suggests, Sans Caption is a font meant to be used for captioning content. It has great legibility at all sizes and has a relatively unassuming character that doesn't seem out of place on any type of content. You can use it on pickup videos or religious sermons without it seeming like it doesn't belong.

Some sans-serif fonts don't fit historical content, but this caption font goes over traditional content types just as well as it goes over modern content.

The best context for PS Sans Caption font is the bottom-of-the-video captioning in long-form content. While this font is visible in the mid-screen captioning context, it is not as great a fit for short-form content. Mid-screen captions are large, bold, and eye-catching. PS Sans Caption was designed in 2009, long before mid-screen captions were a thing.

PT Serif Caption by ParaType

While the Sans-serif version of the PT Caption fonts is usable in traditional as well as contemporary content, PT Serif Caption has a more specific character. It works well for historical documentaries, period dramas, and other content that evokes feelings of traditionalism and conventionality.

PT Serif Caption is backed and owned by the same project as the PT Sans Caption font, and it is just as broadly legible. Moreover, this caption has a little more weight than its sans-serif counterpart.

It, too, works best for captioning long-form content. You can use it for subtitling movies, youtube videos, and documentaries. But don't use it for captioning TikToks and Reels, as those require fonts that can double as engagement props (i.e., title fonts).

Bebas Neue by Ryoichi Tsunekawa

Bebas Neue is available on Canva and other content editors because of its versatility and its open license. You can use this font for mid-screen captions as well as for lower-screen subtitling. The font works as a heavy-body text font as well as a subheading font. It is characterized by its slim and tall glyphs and comes with significant default weight.

Oleo Script by Soytutype fonts

Oleo Script is yet another heavy-body font that works well as a lower-screen caption font as well as a mid-screen short-form subtitling font. It has a bit of a traditional character thanks to its cursive nature and slight italicization. If your content revolves around tradition, education, or history, then this font might fit. But for contemporary topics, it might seem a little out of place.

Lato by Łukasz Dziedzic

Lato is different from its heavy-bodied peers because of its lean glyphs. That's why it works in subtitling long-form content. You should use its bold form for maximum readability in the lower-screen caption.

It is best to use Lato for youtube videos, lectures/webinars, and movies. If you make it an integral part of your brand and use it in your short-form content as well, you might want to download its title form called Lato Black.

Lato Black can work in mid-screen captions because of its weight and attention-grabbing nature. This font family has one of the most diverse form-roster. The Lato Family features a headline font, a subheading font, and several body text fonts.

Lato Bold works for the type of captions that run at the bottom of the screen, while Lato Black works for mid-screen captions, which you encounter in Podcast reels and educational Tiktoks.

Playfair Display by Claus Eggers Sørensen

Playfair Display is yet another versatile and freely available font that can be used for captioning content. As the name suggests, it is a display font and display fonts are great for large captions. The character of this font family is very "official" looking.

Its semi-bold form is best for lower-screen captions, and its extra-bold form works for mid-screen subtitles. The weight of Playfair Display glyphs offers creators the opportunity to play with colors. Playfair Display ExtraBold looks good in yellow and white in a mid-screen caption context.

Poppins by Indian Type Foundry and Jonny Pinhorn

Poppins has a wide weight range starting with barely-legible slim glyphs that would be lost in front of any background other than white paper. But its semi-bold form is ideal for standard subtitles as it is a lot more legible. No form of this font has serifs or cursive elements, giving it a clean and contemporary feel.

Poppins isn't used as often for captioning, though it is pretty prevalent in website copy. Because of the font's infrequence in subtitling, you can use Poppins in your content captions consistently to make your videos stand out.

Vollkorn by Friedrich Althausen

Vollkorn is yet another font that isn't very common in subtitles but is perfect for the use case. You can adopt it for your videos' captions and can make it a part of your overall brand. The font has character and is aesthetically pleasing. It has enough weight to be legible in all sizes and has forms that work in different captioning contexts.

Vollkorn Black and Vollkorn Extra-Bold work for mid-screen captions, while Vollkorn Medium works for standard subtitles. The other forms include Bold, Regular, and Semi-Bold options, all of which are also passable for captioning and other content creation purposes.

This font family is licensed under the Open Font License, making it acceptable to use in print, digital, personal, and commercial projects.

Roboto by Christian Robertson

Roboto is available as a default font on multiple content-creating platforms because of its Open Fonts License. The font has a very tech-forward aesthetic with a very evidently digital lean. It doesn't feature handwritten glyphs. Instead, it has a geometric design with a sans-serif type.

You can use Roboto Bold for mid-screen captions in short-form content like Reels and Youtube Shorts. Its Thin, Lights, and Regular forms aren't really usable in subtitling. But if you want to stick to the same font family for your lower-screen captions as well, you can choose Roboto Medium.

Domine by Impallari Type

Domine's character is slightly playful but conventionally familiar. Its serifs evoke traditionalism, but its understated curvature keeps its text from seeming too formal. The font combines elements from popular body fonts like Century, Cheltenham, Clarendon, and Clearface, to create a glyph set that is easy on the eyes.

According to its designer, the font was originally meant to be used for body text, and its distributor emphasizes its compatibility with magazines and newspapers. Because this font is legible even at 14 pixels, it is great for captioning. More specifically, it is ideal for lower-screen captions. It does not work nearly as well for mid-screen captions.


How To Pick The Perfect Font For Video Captions?

Now that you have ten options to choose from, you might be in one of three positions. For starters, you might love one specific font, in which case you don't need anything else. But the other two options involve decision-making. You might like multiple fonts covered in the section above, or you might not like any of them.

In either case, knowing which factors you should consider when selecting a font can help you make your final call. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing fonts for subtitling.

Choose Between Lower-Screen Or Mid-Screen Captions

Before 2018, there was only one type of content captioning: the classic bottom-of-the-screen subtitles. Since the global shift towards short-form content, a new form of captions has emerged. It is the mid-screen captions, which are used in Reels, TikToks, and Shorts with audio value. It is part audio-illustrating tool and part engagement tool.

Knowing which type of captioning your videos require can help you choose the best font for it. In the section above, no font is as caption-specific as the PT Caption fonts. But since those fonts were designed before mid-screen captions were a thing, they do not work for short-form content captioning.

Ideally, your font choice would work for both short-form and long-form content. But if you only create one type of content (not recommended), then you can stick to a font that works only for that content type.

Judge The Font's Mood

Whether a font works in the middle of the screen or at the bottom in a small size, it is not exempt from the mood standard. When you look at the sample content that most font pages have, what do you feel? Noticing how a font affects your mood is a great way to judge its compatibility with your content.

A font that is overly traditional shouldn't be used for startup how-to videos. And a font that is very obviously modern shouldn't be used to subtitle the history of ancient Egypt.

Cross-Reference With Your Brand

Aside from aligning the font's mood with your content's mood, you must align the font's appearance with your brand's visual identity. If your letterhead, logo, and content text font clashes with your caption font, then you should consider an alternative.

Cross-referencing your font choices with your brand's existing font set is crucial. And if you have yet to build a font set for your brand, then the next tip is even more important.

Consider The Font Family's Versatility

The ideal font for captions has a sufficiently bold form as well as a medium-weight font. But the broader a font family, the better off it is for a content creator. Chances are, you produce long-form content as well as short clips.

By selecting a font with a versatile family, you leave yourself options for lower-screen captioning as well as mid-screen captions. And the subtitles in your long-form and short-form content match because they share a family.

Check Its Legibility At 14 Px And Aesthetics At 60 Px

To make sure that a font is legible on a smartphone, you should reduce its size to 14 pixels and look at it from three feet away. Aside from ensuring that the content you consume is visible at 14px, you should also make sure it looks good at 60px.

Some fonts are not meant to be used in big and bold text. But any typeface you plan to use for mid-screen captions must look great when blown up to a headline's size.

Check Its Legibility Against A Non-Uniform Background

Many content creators make the mistake of assuming that legibility tests conducted in a word processor are enough for choosing a caption font. You cannot be sure that a font is going to work for subtitles unless you use it in subtitles.

You can either place sample text over an image or actually subtitle a clip of your content with the candidate font to be sure of its legibility.

Cross-Check The Font's License With Your Content Goals

The final thing you must check before you start using a font for captions in your videos is the font's license. Most fonts have a free personal-use license, so you can use them as long as you're not paid for the piece of content in which they are used.

But to be extra safe, you should try to get fonts with a commercial license. Fonts that are free to use for commercial purposes are truly liberating.

You can use them in your sponsored content, ads, and even on-demand content. Even if you don't get paid for your content just yet, it makes sense not to tie yourself to a font that will eventually limit you.


How To Ensure That A Font Is Free For Commercial Use

As covered earlier, you must use fonts with free commercial use license so that you can monetize your content without legal liability. Below are three ways to get fonts that are free for commercial use:

  • Fonts Suggested by ContentFries - ContentFries blog posts that feature font suggestions link exclusively to fonts that are free for commercial use. For instance, the fonts recommended in this article are all free to use in your content for commercial purposes.

  • Google Fonts - Google Fonts is the largest database of verified, free-to-use fonts. All fonts hosted on the platform are licensed under the Open Font License, which allows personal and commercial use.

  • Font Squirrel - Font Squirrel brands itself as the "Free Font Utopia." Its header proudly proclaims that it hosts fonts that are free for commercial use. Confining your search to this website will help you avoid fonts with complicated licenses.


What To Do When An App Doesn't Allow Custom Fonts?

If you have read this far, you are in the perfect position to choose and use fonts for different types of captions across your entire video library. But if you use social media products like Instagram Story Captions or TikTok Add Text option, you will find your font choices limited.

You can either pick a font that aligns with your brand's mood from the selection offered by the platform or edit your content offline. The former is more convenient, while the latter gives you more control.

If you stick to using social media apps for captioning, then you can bring the subtitles into your brand identity's fold by changing the color of your captions to your brand colors. Again, this might not give you a lot of control over the captions' appearance, but it does make content captioning easier.


Easy, Automatic Captioning With More Control

Why choose between the convenience of social media apps' auto-captioning or third-party editors' custom fonts when you can get the best of both worlds?

ContentFries is great for video captions because of its precise auto-captioning engine and its "upload your own font" feature. The platform also has hundreds of fonts in its library.

With ContentFries, you can upload a clip, have it auto-captioned in minutes, and can choose from** hundreds of templates with font size and placement pre-set to maximize engagement**. The content multiplying program offers you the ability to create fresh content pieces conveniently while controlling as many aspects of it as you like.


Final Thoughts

PT Sans Caption, PT Serif Caption, and Playfair Display are the best closed caption fonts that are free to use. But none of these suggestions can override how you feel. As a content creator, you should pick the font that you're satisfied with.

However, you shouldn't break the rules for legibility and mood alignment in your font choice. The article above also covers the steps you can take to find your own font and the databases where you'll find a commercially usable font to fall in love with.