How to Caption Videos


  • This page contains tips for how to caption videos hosted on YouTube. You will need to be the owner (someone with access to the "Video Manager") in order to work on the captions.
  • If you already have a transcript for your video, all you have to is upload the transcript to the YouTube video, and YouTube will automatically set the timing.
  • If you don't have a transcript, you can either:
    • Follow the instructions below to add captions;
    • Or, allow YouTube to take a first pass at the automated captions, then go into the closed captions editing interface to correct the captions (correcting the automated captions is an ESSENTIAL step and cannot be skipped!). 

The department of New Student Services has done some great work adding captions to videos. Here is an outline of their process! All content and images courtesy of New Student Services.

  1. After logging in to your YouTube channel, navigate to your Video Manager.
  2. Go to the video and click the arrow next to the Edit button. Select Captions. Videos that already are captioned have a [CC] next to their name.

  3. At the caption page click on Add captions > English. Next, choose the option that says "transcribe and set timings."

  4. Listen to the video, and type as people say things. YouTube will pause the video for you as you type. Press "Set Timings" after you finish typing out the captions. It takes a little while to process. If you can't finish typing the captions in one sitting, copy and paste your work into TextEdit and save it to your folder.

  5. YouTube will have automatically timed the captions. However, it is not perfect at this so you will have to edit it. Go back to the captions from the video manager. Click on the link that says "English" (without the automatic captions).

  6. You'll see this tool to edit captions. Timing can be edited either with the grey timestamps or by dragging the boxes over the waveforms under the video. Text can be edited by clicking on it. Changes should autosave as you make them.
  7. Watch the video several times. Once you are finished, ask someone else to watch the captions (from within the video editor) to catch any errors.
  8. Once you are sure, click the "publish" box in the bottom right. You can still go back and make changes though! If you need to delete or unpublish the captions then click on the "Actions" box in the top right area of the tool.
  9. Things to keep in mind:
    • Maximum of two lines per video frame. Try not to make each line too long.
    • Try your best to have the captions match with the person speaking. For example, if "Suzy" is talking about the Campanile, try to keep her captions from going into the next frame of "John."
    • It's okay to clean up words like, "um," "you know," and other filler words.
    • Make changes to the milliseconds for accuracy.
  10. See what captions are published.

    Go back to the captions screen to see which captions are live. The ones with green dots are published. Once the official captions are published, you should unpublish the automatic captions by opening them and clicking on "Actions".

  11. Save a backup copy. Go back to the captions, and from actions click on download: .sbv . Save this file with your other video files.