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Easy Methods to Add Closed Captions to Your YouTube Videos

Adding captions to your YouTube videos broadens their appeal and can help you attract new audiences. The process can be expensive, though. Hiring a transcription service costs money. But all you truly need to add YouTube closed captioning is a little time…as long as you know how to let YouTube do some of the work.

Here’s a general rule of thumb: The time it takes to transcribe a YouTube video is five to ten times longer than the running time of the video. If you create the transcript, YouTube can apply “automatic timing,” which utilizes a voice recognition program to ensure that the words in the transcript align with the audio.

Two methods exist to transcribe YouTube videos:

1. Write transcripts within YouTube.

YouTube allows you to create transcripts within the Video Manager. First, select Add Captions, followed by Transcribe. Once you perform those steps, you will see where you can type your transcript directly into the text field. Your video will automatically pause as you put in the words. Video controls allow you to pause or rewind as needed to make sure your transcript is accurate. And you can work at your own pace.

Next, select Set Timings to sync your transcript to the video. Once synced, the captions will be published, and your video will be ready to be viewed with YouTube captions.

2. Write transcripts and upload them to YouTube.

If you don’t want to create transcripts in the YouTube Video Manager, you can use any program that allows you to save a plain text file (.txt). A program such as NotePad or TextEdit will save files as text. If you use Microsoft Word or have a PDF file, you can convert these files to text.

When typing your transcript, follow these guidelines from YouTube:

  • Use square brackets to note background sounds, for example, [MUSIC].

  • Use blank lines to begin a new caption.

  • Use >> to identify speakers.

When your transcript is complete, select Upload a File (in the Video Manager, under Subtitles and CC). Select your text file to upload. Once it is uploaded, you can sync the text to the audio using the steps above.

Including YouTube closed captioning and transcripts with your videos will make them easier to use, accessible to more people, and more prominent in search engine results. The process doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Just a little time—and a little help from YouTube—can get you captions on your videos and all the benefits that come with them.


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