How to Add Subtitles to YouTube Videos

Closed captions, or subtitles are great ways to get your video in front of a wider audience.

Without these captions deaf people or people who can’t speak the video’s language can’t get the full benefit of your video, and almost certainly wouldn’t watch it without subtitles.

If you don’t know, to turn subtitles on you click the icon in the bottom right of the video, highlighted below.

subtitle button

Even More Benefits

Subtitles give YouTube a transcript of your video to help it better understand what your video is about.

Now, I’m not saying that it will improve your rankings, but when deciding what results to show to a given search query, YouTube finds videos that are both of good quality, and relevant to the query.

In this way it is better if YouTube knows more about what your video contains.


How To Add Captions

There are 3 methods of adding captions, either upload a pre made caption file, write in the transcript and timings yourself, or write in the transcript and let YouTube figure out the timings.

For a walkthrough on how to do this, check out the video below.


For the option shown in the video there are a few caveats:

  • The audio has to be good enough quality for YouTube to hear it.
  • If there are other sounds going on at certain points e.g. applause, crashing etc. then they should be put into the transcript at the right place like so [applause]
  • The transcript is in the same language as the video
  • The language has to be one that Google has speech recognition for.

If you want to put in subtitles for foreign language viewers then you will have to go through the manual process by clicking the “Create new subtitles or CC” option.

And it really is as simple as that. Now you can open your video up to a whole new world of viewers.

Thumbnail Image By State of Rhode Island (State of Rhode Island [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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