Captioning - Using and Improving YouTube’s Auto-Generated Captions

Last Updated: 07/11/2019
Layout:
One Column
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This tutorial is operating system independent.

Overview

This tutorial assumes that you have a YouTube account and that you do not already have a written transcript of the audio from your video. If you have an .srt file that you need to synchronize with your video, see our Adding Caption Files to YouTube Videos tutorial instead. If you already have a transcript, see our Making Captions from Transcripts in YouTube. If you would like to transcribe the captions yourself rather than improving the auto-generated captions from YouTube, use our Creating Captions in YouTube from Scratch.

*Note: YouTube auto-generated captions that have not been corrected by a human are insufficient. Steps 5-8 in this tutorial tell you how to correct the automatic captions. The accuracy level of YouTube captions is typically below accepted standards for accuracy. If you intend to use the following approach, you must extensively review the auto-generated captions to ensure that there are no remaining errors.

Step

Upload your video to YouTube. (Note that you can adjust the privacy settings on your video from the upload page.)

Step

Go to your YouTube Studio after your video has been uploaded to your YouTube channel.

*Note: You may see what is called the YouTube Creator Studio Classic view rather than the new YouTube Studio. Use these instructions on switching between the two views (this tutorial assumes you are in YouTube Studio).

Step

Find the video in the Videos list and select the name of the video.

Step

In the navigational sidebar on the left, select the Transcriptions link.

Step

You may be asked to set the language of the video from a dropdown menu. After setting the language, select Confirm.

Step

There should be a caption file already present on the Transcriptions page called English (Automatic). (If it has not yet appeared, wait some time and check back.)

Select Published in the Subtitles column, which will load the Classic YouTube Caption Editor.

Step

Select the Edit button in the top-right corner.

Step

To edit the content of the captions, select the caption you'd like to edit left of the video and start typing. Hit Shift > Enter to add a line break. You should have no more than 2 lines of text in your captions. You can adjust the start and end time of each caption block in this area as well.

Step

You can also adjust the start and end times of each caption at the bottom of the screen by clicking & dragging on the edges of the white boxes with text. The audio signal is shown in grey behind the white text boxes to help find where audio begins and ends.

Try to divide your caption blocks at the start or end of complete phrases so that users don’t have to retain detailed information across caption blocks.

Step

When you are done, select Save changes in the top right corner to finalize the captions.