Adding Captions to Your Video

Captioning is an important aspect of adding accessibility to your videos. Providing captioning is beneficial to a wide variety of users, including the hearing-impaired, those experiencing technical difficulties, non-English speakers, and others who are having trouble understanding the audio portion of your video. It's best practice that your videos have captions when they are published.

Before you add a video to YouTube, be sure to have a plain text transcript file ready to upload with it. You can also go back and add these files later. Doing so will ensure that your video is more easily accessible to users.

Uploading transcription files to YouTube

Once you've uploaded a video to YouTube, you can add a transcript through the Edit page for that video.

  1. Click your user name in the top right corner. From the drop down box, click the Video Manager link.
  2. You will be directed to a list of your uploaded videos. Find the appropriate video and click the Edit link beneath that video's title.
  3. At the top of the page, click the Captions link.
  4. Click the button on this page that says "Add New Captions or Transcript." You will now be able to upload a file by pressing the "Choose File" button.
    • There are two types of files you can upload as captions. Technically caption files are intended with the hearing-impaired in mind, contain time codes and other formatting for non-dialog audio. If you have a caption file (typically containing a .sub or .srt extension), select Caption file as the type.
    • YouTube will also accept a transcript, or a plain text file containing only the dialogue in the video. If you select Transcription file, YouTube will automatically sync the timing with the text you have submitted. The Office of Web and New Media highly recommend this service as it simplifies the process of uploading captions. Be sure that these files are plain text and contain no formatting or special characters.
  5. Once you have selected the file for upload and selected the appropriate type, you can also add a name to the caption track. If you upload multiple files (such as a caption file indicating non-verbal audio intended for the hearing impaired as well as a transcription file with dialogue only), entering the optional name before you upload the file will assist users in selecting the proper file they would like to read as your video plays.

Making a transcription file

Captioning and transcribing can be a difficult and tedious process. It's unlikely that you'll already have the recorded words or audio in a text format. The simplest way to provide text for upload is to listen and type; however it can be difficult to keep up with spoken dialogue.

One solution is to play the video with VLC, a free media player you can use to adjust the speed of the video. This may slow the dialogue down enough to make it easier to transcribe.

Google also suggests several other options in it's YouTube help article on the subject, including the following online captioning sites:

There is also software available for download:

Note: As previously mentioned, when uploading a transcription file to YouTube, be sure it contains no formatting or special characters; these will not display properly as captions in the YouTube video player. You must upload a plain text document for YouTube to properly sync your text with your video. This does not apply to caption files with time code or .sub / .srt file name extensions.

Additional Resources

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