The 9 Best Fonts for Subtitles and Video Captions in 2023

We've rounded up the best fonts for subtitles, summarized why they work, and shared tips on choosing the right font for your videos.

The 9 Best Fonts for Subtitles and Video Captions in 2023

Subtitles are becoming a standard part of video content on the internet. You've probably seen some of these subtitle statistics:

  • 53% of Americans are using subtitles more now than they did three years ago.
  • 85% of people watch videos on Facebook without any sound.
  • Instagram data shows subtitles can increase view time by 12% or more.

If you're posting to social media, your video simply isn't done until it has subtitles. Fortunately, modern tools make adding subtitles to videos easier than ever before. Our video editor, which features an AI subtitle generator, even lets you automatically add subtitles to any video in a single click.

Once your video has subtitles though, a design question arises: which subtitle font should you use? This question is more important than you think since fonts affect the readability of your text.

To help you make the call, we've rounded up the best fonts for subtitles and closed captions, summarized why they work so well, and shared some tips on choosing the right font for your videos.

The Best Fonts for Video Subtitles

1. Arial

Arial is one of the best overall fonts for subtitles, as it's widely used and instantly recognizable—it's quite similar to Helvetica, the font used in the classic yellow subtitle font from so many movies and TV shows. Arial starts what will be a consistent trend on this list: a bias toward sans-serif fonts.

If you're not familiar with that term, sans-serif fonts are fonts that don't have tiny lines that extend off of individual letters. What you're reading now is a serif font, which is popular for longer-form content like an article. However, a study from the Nielsen Group found that overall, sans-serif fonts were better for reading speed and attention when it came to so-called "glanceable reading," which is much more similar to how people read video subtitles.

Arial fits the bill being a sans-serif font, and its understated style also means that viewers will focus on your video and what's being shown, not on your fancy font choice. Flexible, easy to read, and free—for those who keep it simple, Arial is one of the best fonts for video subtitles.

Need to download this font? Arial is available on all versions of Microsoft Windows, macOS, and many software products broadly, but more information can be found here.

2. Montserrat

Monserrat was inspired by the old posters and signage in the Montserrat neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where its designer, Julieta Ulanovsky, lives.

Monserrat in bold is actually the default font we use here at Kapwing for our subtitles tool. The reason is that Monserrat is a highly-readable sans-serif font, but it also has a certain aesthetic quality to it that makes it feel less generic than Helvetica or Arial. And, it stands out by not being the default font everyone is used to seeing.

In our opinion, this font should almost always be used in bold. The thin version of the font is very slender and can be hard to see with a lot of activity behind it, especially when it’s overlaid as subtitles with no highlight or background. It's no wonder that this was one of the other cardinal sins of "glanceable reading" mentioned in the Nielsen study:

  1. Don't use a subtitle font that's too small
  2. Don't use a subtitle font that's too narrow
  3. Don't use any font that's lowercase only

We also apply a slightly transparent dark background with Monserrat in white in the foreground, which is not only very visible but also leaves room for creative expression through the use of custom colors. For those who want a simple font with sleek stylings not present in default fonts like Arial or Calibri, we strongly recommend giving Monserrat a try.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

3. Lato

Designed just over 10 years ago, Lato is another sans-serif font that's best used in bold, though the default font isn't as thin as something like Monserrat and could be used all on its own with the contrast between background and font color.

Lato also does an excellent job of mimicking the subtle stylings of generic-looking default fonts like Arial and Helvetica, but with a bit more personality that's especially noticeable when you zoom in. At a glance, this gives Lato a more sophisticated feeling than generic fonts without overpowering the video. That's what many video editors misunderstand: you never want viewers focused on the font choice itself.

Lato features a tall, narrow design with rounded corners and a clean, minimalist look. The font has a wide range of weights, from thin to bold, and includes both regular and italic styles, as well as condensed and expanded versions—though the condensed versions aren't great for subtitles.

Google has Lato associated with over 24 million websites, so it's also common enough that most of your viewers won't struggle with reading it.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

4. Open Sans

Open Sans is a sans-serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson and released in 2011. Google hired Matteson to develop a universal font for all of its products, and Open Sans was the end result.

The design of Open Sans is based on classic typefaces such as Helvetica and Univers, but it has unique characteristics, including wider letter spacing. The font was designed with legibility and readability in mind, making it ideal for use in digital media—and especially for subtitles.

Open Sans was originally released in 10 weights, from Light to Extrabold, each with its italic version. In 2013, Matteson added two additional weights, Light Italic and Extrabold Italic, bringing the total number of styles to 12.

According to Google, Open Sans passed 10 trillion (yes, with a T!) total pageviews across all web pages that it's used on. That makes it one of the most popular font choices of all time and certainly one of the most popular on the web.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

5. Libre Baskerville

Serif font aficionados rejoice! There are a few serif fonts with kerning that make them a good choice for video subtitles, and Libre Baskerville is one of those fonts.

Unlike serif fonts such as Garamond, Libre Baskerville leaves enough space between letters that it remains a highly-readable font even as an animated or quickly-moving subtitle.

Designed by Pablo Impallari in 2012, Libre Baskerville is based on the classic Baskerville font created by John Baskerville in the 1750s. The font was yet another font created as part of the Google Fonts project.  Libre Baskerville includes various improvements to the original Baskerville, such as the height of the lowercase letters relative to the uppercase letters—which makes the font more legible on screens.

Libre Baskerville also includes a range of weights, from light to bold, as well as italics, providing designers with a versatile range of options for use in a variety of applications. The font is popular among designers for its classical elegance, high legibility, and versatility.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

6. Raleway

Raleway is a sans-serif typeface designed by Matt McInerney. The font was originally inspired by "geometric sans-serif typefaces" such as Futura and Avant Garde, which were popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

McInerney designed Raleway while he was a student at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He initially designed the font for a university project, but it gained popularity when he released it as a free download on his personal website. And in 2012, Raleway was added to the Google Fonts library, making it even more accessible to designers.

Raleway features a distinctive, thin, high-contrast design with elongated letters and distinctive characters. The font has a sleek look that has made it popular in a variety of design contexts—but we really like it for subtitles.

Since Raleway's initial release, it has become one of the most popular fonts online, with its versatility and clean, modern design making it a favorite for a wide range of applications.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

7. Noto Sans

Noto Sans actually has an interesting history: it was commissioned by Google to try and eliminate "tofu" characters on the web—and in fact stands for "no tofu." Tofu characters are those that can't be displayed on-screen because a user doesn't have a font installed that's capable of displaying them; they often show up as blank rectangles.

Noto fonts sought to fix this problem by including tens of thousands of characters in over 1,000 different languages. That makes it a great option for creating subtitles that aren't in English, especially if you plan on localizing your subtitles across multiple languages.

The font's style is modern and clean, with slightly rounded edges that soften its appearance and helps the font feel approachable and casual, rather than overly formal. And for our purposes, the font is also highly legible on screens—and at smaller sizes—which makes it a top choice for subtitles.

It's hard to go wrong with the entire Noto font family, especially if you're looking for a consistent font to use across multiple languages. Noto Sans, like all the fonts listed here, is available by default in Kapwing.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

8. Times New Roman

Another long-standing serif font we've chosen for its readability. Times New Roman was originally designed in 1931 by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent on behalf of a British newspaper called, "The Times." The name is a reference to roman-style type, but beyond that, the font has no association with Rome or Italy.

The design for Times New Roman was based on an even older serif font named Plantin, changed primarily to be more legible in print. And although it was popularized by its use in print, particularly in newspapers, the font's original focus on high contrast makes it one of the more legible fonts for subtitles in modern times.

The font fits our general guidelines for choosing serif fonts for captions: use them if they fit your brand, but be careful of overly ornate fonts that become much harder to read at a glance or when effects or motion are applied, as is often the case with video subtitles. We believe Times New Roman strikes the right balance and is a good model when selecting other serif fonts, too.

Need to download this font? Find it here.

9. Roboto

Roboto is a font released by Google in 2012 and designed in-house by Christian Robertson for Android, Google's mobile OS. The font is very popular across the web and mobile, and before 2019, it was even the default font used by the US government.

Given that the font was originally used in a mobile context, it should be no surprise that it's highly legible on mobile and works quite well even at small sizes. We've found Roboto really shines in vertical video since its sleek design sits a bit taller than some other popular sans serif fonts.

The font has a consistent stroke width throughout its various weights and styles, which gives it a balanced and cohesive appearance—which means that stylistic choices like strong or emphasis work well for this font, even as subtitle text. Though, please use those sparingly!

Need to download this font? Find it here.

Tips for Picking the Best Subtitle Font

1. Find the right contrast

Many video subtitles do not simply overlay the font on top of the footage. They instead apply a solid or slightly transparent background to the font so it stands out on the video and contrasts the subject (e.g. for talking head videos) or the environment. And this isn't just a design concern. Proper contrast in your captions is crucial for video accessibility.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines recommends a text/background contrast of 4.5:1, and there are examples you can check out that help explain what that contrast looks like in practice—though remember, these are the recommended minimums for contrast. As the previous page covers, sometimes outline effects on fonts can be a substitute for background. But, we recommend most video creators stick to applying a slightly transparent background/highlight to all of their subtitles to help increase contrast and legibility.

2. Choose an accessible subtitle font

As we've covered above, common fonts for subtitles include Arial, Times New Roman, and Open Sans—all relatively common fonts that you’re used to seeing around the web. Most places where you can make subtitles let you use any of these standard font types; select the one that works best for your video.

That said, it's OK to match your brand. Many e-commerce brands, for example, like using serif fonts as the standard for most of their copy, and there are serif fonts that work for subtitles, too. But you may need to compromise just a bit—some of the most aesthetically pleasing fonts don't make for good subtitle fonts, because they're hard to read at a glance or while in motion. Strike the right balance by searching for a font that sits adjacent to your brand's main font, but that can be easily and quickly read by anyone watching your videos.

3. Position your subtitles carefully

We’re used to seeing subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen while a video is playing, but that isn’t always the best option. Sometimes the bottom of a video has scrolling headlines, names, locations, and other valuable information.

In cases where the bottom portion of the screen contains important information, you don’t need to cover it with subtitles. Instead, you can move your subtitle layer to the top of the video, or even entirely below or above the video frame by adding blank padding to the edges.

This is especially important with video on social media. The platform interfaces on TikTok, Reels, and YouTube Shorts all obscure at least a portion of the video with the caption, sidebar icons, and search bar at the top. Use a tool like Safe Zones to see where your subtitles are relative to those features so that your video remains legible when you share it on social.

4. Format your videos for the places you’ll share them

Sometimes, you can ensure that your subtitles don’t interfere with your video whatsoever. Most social media platforms, for example, give a bit of flexibility in presenting video content. TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, to name a few, all show videos at least as tall as a square in users’ feeds. Even YouTube now supports a broader range of aspect ratios through YouTube Shorts.

Different platforms can make your subtitles easier or harder to see, depending on their formatting. This means that your captions don’t have to cover any part of your video—instead, you can add padding to the bottom of the frame. It’s likely that your video is in a 16:9 or 5:4 aspect ratio, depending on how you recorded and edited it.

Another way to choose a great font for your subtitles is by emulating popular creators with a unique editing style. For example, YouTuber Alex Hormozi is known for the bold, colorful subtitles he adds to his YouTube Shorts and TikToks.

You can copy this style and tweak it to fit your own branding and vibe by using a tool that has a similar preset style. Kapwing's "Pop Art" preset, for example, is directly inspired by Alex Hormozi's subtitles with bold, all-caps font and impactful highlighting.

An example of what Kapwing's Alex Hormozi style subtitles look like.

How to Use Custom Fonts for Subtitles

All of the subtitle fonts featured in this article are immediately accessible from the Kapwing Studio and can be used with our Magic Subtitles tool. But if you have a specific subtitle font in mind, Kapwing also allows you to upload custom fonts for your subtitles. Here's how to do just that:

1. Get your font file

Font files are typically .ttf or .otf files that can be found on your computer once you download the font. There are many great (free) font choices available on places like Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts, and both of those locations are always safe to download from—so we recommend you find fonts there first.

2. Upload your font file to Kapwing

Login to Kapwing or jump right into the Kapwing Studio (no account required) and after you've added a subtitle, you'll see the font and design toolbar on the right side of the screen. Click on + More Fonts from the dropdown menu.

A pop-up modal will appear and now you can select Upload Font. That will prompt you to upload a font family as a .ttf or .otf file.

3. Select your font and write subtitles

Once your font is uploaded, it will appear in the pop-up modal with a preview of what it looks like. I've selected a font called Cabin for this example, specifically the bold font.

Now that my font is uploaded to Kapwing, it will always be available on the right-hand toolbar where I can apply effects and design elements to my subtitles. You'll see it in "Recent Fonts" once you've applied it to your subtitles, and you can always search for it in the "More Fonts" option we showed above.

And that's it! Now your custom font is ready to use in your video subtitles.


Subtitle Font FAQ

What's a good subtitle font and size?

The most common size font for subtitles is around 22 pts for vertical videos and 30 pts for standard rectangular videos. But the right size for video captions really depends on the content and format.

What font does YouTube use for subtitles?

YouTubers often use Roboto Medium as it's the default font available through the YouTube captions feature. However, YouTube's subtitle editor does allow for other fonts to be chosen.

What font does TikTok use for captions?

The TikTok font is called "Classic" and it's almost exactly similar to Proxima Nova, a font developed by Adobe. You can download the Proxima Nova font here.

What is the standard subtitling font?

The most commonly used fonts for subtitles are Arial and Helvetica, as they are simple and widely available sans-serif fonts. But as we've covered here, there are many other fonts to choose from.

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