While the aim of transcriptionists is to create an accurate transcript of the English speech heard, the aim of captioners is to recreate the full audio experience for non-hearing viewers which includes capturing the English speech, any singing, and using atmospherics to describe the music and sounds integral to the context of the story. Captioners also sync caption groups to the audio. Captioners must use adjectives to describe mood music, i.e., (bright piano music), and use active verbs to describe relevant sounds heard, i.e., (jet engine roaring) or (audience cheering).
Dashes indicate speaker changes. In general, use only a dash "-" and space when it's obvious through visual clues who's speaking. Add a speaker label, [Firstname], if the speaker cannot be visually identiﬁed as speaking before being interrupted by another speaker. If the first name is not known, use the most appropriate speaker label such as Instructor, Narrator, Announcer, et cetera.
Proper caption breaking
Caption groups should be created for best readability Start a new caption group after terminal punctuation, period, question mark, exclamation park or a double dash for an abrupt interruption by another speaker or relevant sound. A caption group 1) can never exceed 60 characters in length and 2) should begin and end with natural breaks in the conversation and/or sentence structure. Break before pronouns, adverbs, and prepositional phrases such as: that, who, in order to, not only, as we, in which, where, with, what, how, for, through, until, to, as, of, yet, so, by, as well as conjunctions such as and, nor, but, or, because. Here's an example of good caption breaking:
It's invaluable as far as what it's going to do
for my job security and my options when I get out
of school and start looking for full-time work.
I don't miss school appointments or school plays.
Those are benefits that you can't get in an office.
I'm not sure how it can get much better than that.
Never cover important on-screen text in the lower ⅓ of the screen with captions. Move the captions to the top of the screen by using a caret "^" at the beginning of any caption group that appears in the same lower ⅓ at the same time as the pre-existing text, even if it's a split second. In general, use a ^ for interview name plates and descriptions, social media links that appear brieﬂy and meant to be seen, storytelling information intentionally placed by the ﬁlmmaker and meant to be seen, as well as pre-existing captions and subtitles. Use Shift + 6 for the ^ in the Type stage.
Syncing caption groups
In the sync stage, use the Up or Down Arrow key to sync each caption group so it appears on screen when the audio begins. The start time needs to align with the beginning of the sound. This applies to both atmospherics and speech. Aim for precision, but it’s okay for the start time to be up to a ½ second early or late from the start of the sound.
Lyrics must always be captioned if they're heard. The exception is if prominent dialogue is occurring at the same time. If there's a pause in dialogue where the lyrics are the only discernible audio, caption the lyrics. Add a musical eighth note “♪” at the start of every caption group containing the lyrics by typing ## followed by a space in Dash.