Resources for Captioning

Last Updated: 06/01/2017

Best Practices

There are many factors to take into account when creating captions. These principles should be considered when captioning and are explained in more detail on the Captioning Standards for Quality Checklist

FCC Standards:

  • Completeness: Captions run from beginning to end of the video.
  • Accuracy: Captions match spoken words (in their original language), are not paraphrased, convey tone and intent, as well as nonverbal information like audience reactions, sound effects, and music.
  • Placement: Captions don’t obscure any important information on the screen, contain no more than 2 lines of text each, with the top line shorter than the bottom line where possible.
    *Note: you cannot control the placement of captions in YouTube, but you can control the number of words you place in each caption.
  • Synchronicity: Captions start and end at the appropriate time, and show up on screen long enough to be read.

Other Tips

  • Achieve 99% accuracy on spelling
  • Identify speaker the first time they speak
  • Use normal capitalization and punctuation
  • Identify speakers every time the speaker changes
  • Put non-speech sounds in square brackets (e.g. [Laughter])
  • If the speaker has a thick accent, don’t try to transcribe all of it phonetically, unless it is a deliberately/temporarily affected accent
  • Use a sans-serif font like Arial
  • You can remove some um’s from non-scripted material to improve readability, but err on the side of transcribing verbatim.
  • All captions should appear for a minimum of 1 second

DIY YouTube Captions

Making your own captions on YouTube is not difficult; all you need is a YouTube account, some videos uploaded to it, and some free time. There are a few different approaches you can take: 

Please reference the Captioning Standards for Quality checklist as you go, or contact the IT Service Center for specific advice.

Campus Policy and Standards

Any public-facing media relating to your department or representing the University needs to be captioned. If a student registered with Disability Services makes a captioning accommodation request, faculty must make arrangements for their course material to be captioned.

Although captioning is only required for captioning accommodation requests and public-facing videos, we encourage those creating and designing classroom materials to make them accessible to all students. For CU Boulder's complete policy, visit the ICT Accessibility Policy and Standards page.