image - YouTube Closed Captioning

How To Do Closed Captions For YouTube

Two Options For Using Closed Captions For YouTube Videos

image - YouTube Closed CaptioningToday I want to tell you two ways that you can do Closed Captioning on your Youtube Videos. That’s right I said Closed Captioning not annotations!

Annotations can be very useful, but…

If you are going for the better SEO effect, I would do Closed Captions. And here are 5 reasons why you may want to do Closed Captioning.

  1. Closed Captions are readable by the Search Engines.
  2. They can be translated easily. When a user watches the video, they can click the red CC button and pick any language that Google translates (it is in BETA, but I hear it works well). Just think of how many non-English speaking people watch video but may be missing your message because they don’t speak English.
  3. Hearing impaired make up a lot of users. Why would you leave them out?
  4. People can filter their search in Youtube for Closed Caption videos.
  5. People at work may not want volume, yet want to know what you are saying.

Now for those of you disbelievers that say CC isn’t searchable, I say give it a test. I have picked a long phrase out of one of my videos with Closed Captions that you can search for on Youtube. I went with the long phrase and have it in quotations marks so that you are more likely to find it easily. Do a YouTube search (including the quotations) for “you want to be a lion don’t you”. This phrase is ONLY in the CC, not in the title or description. That should pull up a video titled ‘Giraffe Talk with the Anipal Info Puppets’. You will also notice that the search description list the phrase at 29 seconds into the video.

How to get Closed Captions Onto Your Videos

Option One

The first way is to use YouTube’s FREE captioning from a transcript. With this method you will need a transcript of the spoken words in the video. If you use a pre written script then after the video is edited and uploaded, simply pull out your script, listen to the video, and edit for any deviations from the pre written script.

You do need to listen for coughs, bangs, music or other non-spoken sounds, because YouTube will think it is a voice and want to place your CC text in conjunction with the sound. This is because your transcript has no time lines for the text to be placed in the video. It simply starts the next bit of text when it hears sound.

As you might figure out from the paragraph above, music in the beginning or in the background of your video, can cause bad timing for your CC using this method!!!

If you have more than 1 speaker in your video, you can simply use [John] before the text he speaks (Duh, use the name of the real speaker). You can also do this with music in the beginning of your videos such as [music] [music.] [music..]. If you watch the video, ‘Giraffe Talk with the Anipal Info Puppets’, you can see an example of this.

How many times you have to use [music] will depend, this is a trial and error. After you get the entire transcript written and uploaded you can then re-watch the video (with the CC on) to see if you need more or less [music] [music.].

Why did I do [music] [music.] [music..] and add the periods? Because this method will not accept the same bracketed text 2 times in a row. We have 1 video that we added up to 5 periods and then worked back down to 1.

Once you have your transcript written out to match the spoken word, you need to make sure it is copy and pasted out of any type of program like Word and placed into a plain NotePad type doc.

Save the notepad doc to your Desktop or in your My Documents.

Now, log into your YouTube account!

In the upper right you will see your username with a dropdown, click open the dropdown and choose VIDEO MANAGER,

You will now click the ARROW next to the EDIT button under the video you are adding the transcript to,

From the choices in the drop down box choose CAPTIONS,


Click BROWSE and find your saved notepad file that has your video transcript,


Language should already be chosen, but if you have a translation you can pick the correct language to match,

I always place a simple name in just because I’m anal retentive like that,

Now click UPLOAD FILE!

Hint: The process can take a few minutes so don’t freak out. One of ours took almost 10 minutes while the others were much faster. You should see a little “wheel” turning. I say you will see a wheel but since I am not doing the process right now…I’m not positive.

Once the processing is complete you need to watch the video with your CC on to see if it matches up like you want. Using this process is not exact like when you do the entire thing with a program and write out the timing yourself, BUT it is MUCH faster. Did I say it is MUCH faster? Trust me, I did it both ways and I know.

If you find any errors or maybe you have some music that is messing it up, just go back into editing your video and remove the CAPTION TRACK. Make your corrections and then you can upload the “revamped” version of the file once you have made the edits you need to.

The bonus of doing your Closed Captioning this way is SPEED! It takes about 20 minutes total since our videos have a prewritten script and I only need slight edits. I have transcribed other people’s videos from scratch and it just depends on the length of the video as to how long it takes.

Once you have the Closed Captioning on the video, you can then go in using the same steps and DOWNLOAD the Caption Track file to use when you upload the same video to other video sites. When you download this file from YouTube, it will have the timing marks. Many sites will only add Closed Captions with timing marks!

Option Two

The second option for Closed Caption is writing the timed text manually. There are many free programs you can use to do this. These programs are free, but is your time?

To do the manual timing method, you will still need a complete transcript of the spoken word.

You will then watch the video (in the special program) while starting and stopping every 3-4 second to write in the time of when the text is to show. The timing will be written with a Start and Stop time for each set of text.

Once you have went through the entire video and made your time stamps you can then download or save the file and upload to YouTube basically the same way. Only this time after you get to the Add New Captions or Transcript page, you will choose CAPTION FILE under the TYPE. You will also get a choice of languages using this way of adding CC.

The advantage you have with doing this option is you do NOT have to stick strictly with the spoken word. Since the program is not “listening” to when it hears a word, you can write in extra words, take out bleeps, to many and ums…Yes, you can make the Closed Captions read smarter than you sound. Oh snap, did I just say that?

Another advantage to doing the manual timing is if you have music in the background that is loud enough to disrupt the CC using the 1st option. We do have 2 videos with music playing during the video and because it was quietly playing…we could still use option #1.

Let me say once again that doing the manual timing takes MUCH longer. If you don’t believe me, then give both options a try.

The Bonus 3rd option is to hire someone to do all of it for you. There are places that will transcribe and do the timestamps for you. Some places will then just send you the file while others will go ahead and upload it completely for you.

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to make sure you had complete instructions.

If you have any questions, just ask them in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them. Hell, even if you don’t have questions, leave us a nice comment anyway!

About Sheryl Loch

I am always learning new and improved ways to better our blogs, forum, and e-commerce sites. You can find me at The Internet Marketers Guild and +Sheryl Loch.
I tend to be a bit straight forward and sarcastic at times so ask for an honest opinion and you shall receive...even if it is not what you want to hear.