How Long Does It Take to Manually Caption Videos?

December 20, 2018 BY SOFIA ENAMORADO
Updated: April 8, 2021

While it’s certainly easier to have videos captioned for you, a lot of people find the cost to be prohibitive. But is captioning your videos yourself any better? And how long does it take to caption a video?


👉 Download the Beginner’s Guide to Captioning


How to Caption Your Videos Yourself

If you’ve decided to forgo contacting a captioning service, the next best option is to caption your video yourself.

CC icon

If you want to caption your video yourself, YouTube provides an easy tool to help you get started.

Just go to your video manager, find the video you want to caption. At the top, select Subtitles and CC. Click Add new subtitles or CC, select your language, and then choose Transcribe and auto-sync.

This method is generally a faster way to add captions (because it sets the timing for you) than choosing the Create new subtitles or CC option, where you have to set timing yourself. Alternatively, if you did have to set the timecodes, this could take 1-2 hours extra.

Select Transcribe and Set Timings

From Transcribe and auto-sync, type the spoken text of the video into the space provided. The video will even pause whenever you start typing! When finished, click Set timings to sync your transcript with the audio.

Type the spoken text of your video in the space provided and click Set Timings


 Want to learn more? Download the Beginner’s Guide to Captioning ➡️ 

How to Caption Your Videos Using YouTube’s Automatic Captions

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Captioning from scratch can be very time-consuming. One way to speed up the process is to use an automatically generated transcript. This method will provide you with a rough draft that you can then edit.

Automatic transcripts tend to be 60%-84% accurate, so we don’t recommend you rely on them alone.

You can use YouTube’s automatic captions and caption editor to help you caption your video. Follow these steps to create high quality captions using YouTube’s automatic captioning function:

  1. Log into your YouTube account. Find the video you want captioned in your Video Editor, then select Edit > Subtitles & CC.
  2. When you select Add new subtitles or CC, a search bar will appear. Search for the English (Automatic).
  3. You’ll be taken to YouTube’s caption editor. Here you can edit each caption frame, while previewing them on the video.
  4. Once your captions are ready, just hit Publish.SRT file icon

You can also download your caption file from YouTube. Simply click Actions in the YouTube caption editor. A dropdown will appear with different caption file types. You can download your captions as a .vtt, .srt, and .sbv.

DIY Captioning: How Long Does It Take?

YouTube’s tool gives you a fairly easy way to caption videos yourself, but the question remains: how long does it take to caption your video? Well, that depends on how many videos you’ve captioned before, the nature of your video, and the duration of your video.

On average, it takes about 5-10 times the duration of the video to caption it.

A trained transcriptionist takes four to five hours transcribing one hour of audio or video content from scratch. In contrast, an untrained transcriptionist will take much longer to transcribe a video from scratch.

If your video is 2 minutes long, then spending 10 minutes captioning it doesn’t seem unrealistic. However, if you’re producing 20 minutes of content every day, you may want to look into alternative routes of captioning, such as a captioning service.

Want to learn more about captioning? Check out this free guide 👇

A Beginner's Guide to Captioning. Download the white paper.


This post has been edited since it was originally published.

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