How to Add Closed Captioning to YouTube Videos by Creating Transcripts

Updated: June 3, 2019

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If you want to add captions to your YouTube videos (and you want to do it yourself rather than outsourcing), all you really need is time. It takes approximately 5-10 times the duration of your video to type out the spoken content. If you’ve never created captions yourself, you may want to consider creating a transcript of your video first and having YouTube do the rest of the work. Once you’ve created your transcript, YouTube facilitates the process of turning it into captions by providing automatic timing, which uses voice recognition technology to automatically match the audio in your video with the text in your transcript. There are two easy ways to create a transcript for your YouTube video.

Create a Transcript in YouTube

Select Add Captions in your video manager. Select Transcribe and Set Timings. Here, you can type the words in your video directly into the transcript text box. YouTube automatically pauses the video as you type in your transcript, and also provides pause, play, and rewind buttons that you can use for faster and more accurate transcription.

Click Set Timings to sync your transcript with the video. When completed, synced captions will be published to your video.

How To Create Video Transcripts For YouTube

Create a Transcript File to Upload

Another option is to create your own transcript. First, you need to create a plain text (.txt) file by converting your Microsoft Word or PDF file. Alternatively, you can just use NotePad or TextEdit. For best results, YouTube recommends that you use:

  • Square brackets to indicate background sounds, like [MUSIC];
  • Blank lines to start new captions; and
  • >> to identify speaker.

In the Subtitles and CC section of your Video Manager, select Upload a File. Upload your .txt transcript file. You can edit timing once it is finished uploading.

How To Upload Your Transcript To YouTube

The Benefits of Adding Transcripts and Captions to YouTube Videos

The ultimate goal of adding transcripts or captions is to make your content more searchable and accessible. The only way for Google to index your video is to feed it words—and what better words can you think of than the ones said in your video? Now, when someone looks up “Sports Vlog Stanley Cup Loss Unfair,” if that’s what your video is about, then you have a hit! Not only that, but now people who need captions because of a hearing impairment will be able to join in on the fun (or sadness). If anything can help you get over the loss, it’s more views.

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