How to Add Closed Captions & Subtitles to YouTube Videos

How to Add Closed Captions & Subtitles to YouTube Videos: Free GuideYouTube encourages content creators to add closed captions and multilingual subtitles to their videos so that they can reach a wider audience. They’ve released several tools to make that a reality.

YouTube adds automatic captions to your videos, however, auto-captions average 60-70% accuracy — or worse when there is poor audio quality, background noise or music, multiple overlapping speakers, or speakers with accents or poor articulation.

From the rough transcript that YouTube creates, you can create your own captions the DIY way or enlist the help of your viewers for crowdsourced captions and subtitle translation.

The fastest, easiest way to get accurate captions is to hire a professional closed captioning company. This is highly recommended if you need to caption YouTube videos at scale, since you can automate your captioning workflow.

However you choose to get your caption file, uploading it to YouTube is a breeze. Here’s how:

YouTube 3Play Media integration

The Easiest Way to Create YouTube Captions

3Play Media’s round trip integration with YouTube provides an automated workflow for adding captions and subtitles. Your YouTube videos can be processed in a matter of hours and captions will be automatically sent to YouTube and added to your videos.

1. Get a Caption File for Your Video

Videos display closed captions by referring to an accompanying caption file, which contains text of speech and sounds with corresponding timestamps.

Captions come in many different caption file formats. The following common formats are compatible with YouTube, although some features such as styling or placement may be lost:

  • SRT (.srt)
  • SBV (.sbv or .sub)
  • WebVTT (.vtt)
  • TTML ( .ttml)
  • DFXP (.dfxp)
  • SCC (.scc)
  • EBU-STL (.stl)
  • Videotron Lambda (.cap)
  • Cheetah (.cap or .asc)

For simplicity’s sake, we recommend SRT format. This is also the format compatible with Facebook videos.

So how can you get a closed caption file?

You have a few options:

  • Transcribe your video from scratch upload it to YouTube to create a caption file
  • Edit YouTube’s automatic captions and enable them – great if you like to DIY
  • Submit your video for professional captioning – the fastest, easiest way to get quality captions

Once you have your caption file, it’s time to…

2. Find the Video on YouTube You Want to Caption

Log into YouTube.com. Click on the icon in the upper right corner and select Creator Studio.

Navigate to Video Manager > Videos and locate the video that corresponds with your caption file.

Click on the drop-down arrow next to Edit and select Subtitles and CC. This launches the subtitle and closed caption management screen for that video.

3. Upload Caption File

Click the Add new subtitles or CC button and select the language of the captions or subtitles. Use the search bar to find languages other than English.

Next, select Upload a File. In the pop-up window, select Subtitles file. Use Choose File to select your captions file on your computer.

Hit Upload.

4. Finalize and Publish Captions

Once your caption file has uploaded, the screen should display your video along with the audio and timed text. You can also see individual caption frames and their time stamps on the right. You can make any edits to your captions here.

When it looks good, hit Publish.

For a free PDF guide to adding captions on YouTube