Video Captioning Tutorial

While there are a many ways to produce captioned video, this tutorial outlines a very simple workflow that has proven results. These instructions utilize YouTube. Vimeo now has an automated captioning service. Also, Vimeo now allows you to upload caption files built with Amara, the free service that allows you to easily create your own captions.

Before uploading any videos to an external server like YouTube, please review the Risks of Cloud Services.  If you can’t use YouTube Caption using Amara or the very reasonably priced services from the University of Texas Libraries Captioning and Transcription Service.


To make the captioning task easier, consider transcribing the presentation during production.

After you have captured and edited your video (possibly by using a program such as Final Cut Pro or a free one such as MPEG Streamclip) export your video in one of the recommended file types: Ogg, WebM, or mp4.

Hosting Your Video Online

You need a place to store your video. You may upload it to your website using FTP, request assistance from the COFA Web team or, as we do in this tutorial, utilize a service such as YouTube.

  • You or your department must have a YouTube account.
  • At the top of the home page, click “Upload.”
  • Upload the file or files from your computer.
  • Fill out the relevant metadata (title, description, tags, etc.)
  • Adjust the privacy settings: The video must be “listed” in order to be embeddable on your website.
  • Access your videos at any time by clicking the drop-down profile menu in the top right corner and selecting “Video Manager”

Consolidating Captions on to the Video

Below are instructions for how to improve YouTube’s speech recognition technology that can automatically create captions.

Or follow the instructions for using Amara to caption the video if…

  • the automated caption’s quality is poor,
  • your content is not appropriate for YouTube,
  • you desire more control of the timing, or
  • you have a transcript from the production.

Tips for Writing Captions & Audio Description

Correct YouTube Auto Captions

  • YouTube will take several minutes to make the captions  available once the video is uploaded.
  • Visit your “Video Manager” and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” button for your video.
  • Select the Captions tab above the video.
  • Click on the caption track you would like to edit.
  • Click inside any line in the caption track panel. Note that you can edit the text, but not the timing.
  • Remember to save when you’re finished.

Embedding on Your Website

Go to the page for your YouTube video, click “share” then “embed.” You will receive a snippet of code that can be added to some websites. As with all embeds it must have a title attribute added. Due to security concerns your website may not allow you to simply enter the embed code.  Please contact the COFA Web team.


To embed a YouTube video on a WordPress site, see Embedding Media from External Services on our WordPress Instruction site.

Learn More

Ohio State University wiki has additional instructions for captioning and how to provide accessible controls.

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