Social Video, Video Inspiration

How to use text overlays to tell your video’s story in style

Mar 22, 2017


Rapid advances in technology have drastically changed the way in which news is not only being created but also consumed. Now, more than ever before, people are turning to their ubiquitous smartphones to access the news, on their social media feeds. In fact, 62% of U.S. adults are getting their news on social media, as 80% of U.S. users are accessing social media on their mobile phones. When creating a video, it’s important to keep this notion in mind: it is more likely than not that your viewer’s sound will be entirely muted.

One of the key components in producing a compelling visual story is keeping the audience engaged. In cases like these where a voiceover isn’t advantageous, videos with text are an effective solution to clearly convey information. But this doesn’t mean throwing big paragraphs or blocks of text overlays on your video.  A video with text overlays should always complement the visuals, and various styles should be used throughout a video to optimize engagement and add as much value to a story as possible.


The Wibbitz Control Room offers various styles of video text overlays that publishers can use to communicate their story through video. Each style can change the look and feel of your video and is designed to highlight different types of content and the way in which stories are being told. Here are four of the video text overlay styles available in the Wibbitz Control Room that I tend to use the most for Top Story video creation, and which types of media elements each works best for.


As a majority of viewers on social feeds are consuming information passively, highlighting specific words that best relay the content in your video helps ensure that content is still being communicated. At the same time, it’s important to make sure that you don’t over highlight, in which case, too much color can also be distracting for the viewer. It’s a good idea to use the highlight feature in your first frame, so users will immediately understand what the video will be about, and will be more likely to stop scrolling and give their full attention to the video.

The Highlight video text overlay option in the Control Room gives you three different controls to ensure your video’s text overlay fits in just right with the media in the background. You can change the marker color of the highlighted text, as well as the vertical alignment (top, middle, and bottom) and font size (small, medium and large) of the text in each frame.

When creating a video with text, it’s best to choose the small font size when you have a large amount of text in a single frame so it doesn’t fill up the screen, and is easier to skim, or when you have some great media footage that you don’t want your text overlays to distract from. The large font size helps shorter bits of video text overlays take up more space on the screen, and lets you add even more emphasis to text with important words so they take precedence over the video’s media. Take a look at how this video transitions between the different font sizes, from Small at 0:27 to Large at 0:30.


When creating a video with text using the meme-styled text overlay, the text only occupies the top and bottom of the frame, allowing the visual assets to take center-stage. This style of video text overlay works best when the imagery is the main focus of the video, as the text works as a frame rather than a foreground. Check out how the meme-styled video text overlay was used at the 0:26 mark of this Top Story video to emphasize the fun and relatable video clip of a Pandora-enhanced car trip:

Text card:

Unlike the meme style, the text card allows the textual information in a frame to stand out and take center stage, as the media footage becomes the backdrop – with options to blur, add a color overlay, or replace with a completely opaque color background. The text card is a great style to use on frames that contain the most important text, or even in cases when relevant media footage is not available. Two versions of the text card were implemented at the 0:20 mark and the 0:26 mark in this video about Scarlet Jo’s recent SNL stint – the first without any changes to the background media, and the second with a Wibbitz branded color overlay:

Social post embed

As social media has become our generation’s paper of record, featuring posts that prove a point, state an opinion, or were the first to break a story adds exceptional value to a news video. When video text overlays accompany a social media post they should be supplementary, providing insight to the image on the screen. Our Control Room’s social embed style uses a unique combination of social posts and text overlay video captions that follow the rule of thirds, so the text is simply there to further explain what the featured post may not. In the following Top Story video, I decided to use the social embed style in the first frame to give credit to the Melbourne-based radio station KIIS 101.1 that originally covered this terrifying story: