How To Add Chapters To YouTube Videos So You Look Professional (It’s Easy, Don’t Complain)

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Shutterstock/Sirisak_baokaew Shutterstock/popular business John-Michael Bond

As video creators, it is our hope that when we set out to make something, people watch the whole thing. That said, even the greatest novels in human history have had chapters to make them easier for people to consume. And since you’re not better than Dickens, make sure you’re including chapters in your YouTube videos.

Adding chapters is the easiest thing you can do to help your viewers better engage with your content. They help fans navigate longer pieces and encourage them to return to their favorite moments. Class can be boring, but the lesson today is short: Let’s learn how to create our own chapters and use YouTube’s Auto Chapter functions. Then we can go outside and enjoy the park. 

What are YouTube chapters?

YouTube chapters are a feature that allows creators to divide their videos into separate segments with individual titles for each section. This helps viewers easily navigate through different parts of a video and directly access the content they’re most interested in. Chapters are displayed on the video’s progress bar, and viewers can click or tap on a chapter to jump straight to that segment.

How Do I Add Timestamps To My YouTube Video?

Adding Chapters to YouTube Videos: Manually 

1) Go to your Channel Dashboard

First, go to your channel dashboard. You can find it by selecting your user icon in the top right hand of YouTube when you’re logged in. Or you can just go here. This will automatically take you to your dashboard if you’re logged in. Select the Content button on the left sidebar between Dashboard and Analytics.

2) Select the Video You Want To Add Captions For

Find the video you’ll be working with. When you hover your cursor over the video, you’ll see options pop up. Select the Pencil icon to edit the video of your choice. 

how to add chapters to youtube - edit on youtube
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3) Watch The Video and Write Down Your Timestamps

On the edit page, you’ll find a link to watch your video on the right side of the screen. Watch the video and make notes of what the timestamps are for your chapters. For the video in our examples, each chapter starts a new joke. You’ll need the exact timestamp for the chapters to work when added. 

4) Head To The Caption Box

Adding chapters to your YouTube videos is as simple as updating the description box of your video. Head to the caption box and start by adding the first stamp, 00:00 – Intro. You don’t have to add the title “Intro,” but you need to add the 00:00. After that, just fill in your other time stamps. 

A few quick notes: Your video needs at least three timestamps to work. Chapters must be listed in ascending order. Finally, videos need to be at least 10 seconds long for time stamps. Our deepest apologies out there to the grindcore bands this will affect. 

how to add chapters to youtube - add chapters
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5) Save Your Work

Pour yourself a glass of water. You’ve earned it. Give YouTube 24 hours to update your chapters, but in our experience, they tend to upload automatically.   

How To Use Auto-Add Chapters On YouTube

YouTube also has an option to auto-add chapters. AI will watch your video and add chapters where it thinks they’re needed. You can then go in and fix its work. We personally don’t recommend this method. It’s incredibly easy to add your own captions, and no computer will ever know your work like you do. Still, let us walk you through how. 

1) Follow Steps 1 and 2 Above

I’m not writing this crap out again. Apply concepts and meet me at step two. 

2) Scroll To The Bottom of Content Until You See “Show More”

Auto-add Chapters is a new feature, so you must dig a bit. Scroll down until you see the Show More option. Select it and scroll down until you see Automatic Chapters. Select the options to turn this feature on. 

3) Find Out If You Can Use Automatic Chapters

You might be surprised to discover you’ve already got Automatic Chapters turned on when you get to step two. That’s because YouTube automatically checks this box for new uploads even if you don’t. However, not every video is eligible for Automatic Chapters. 

You may have gotten this far with the promise of AI singing in your ears only to discover the copper taste of impending doom on your tongue. We’re sorry, but that’s what you get for putting your faith in the robots. 

Why should you make chapters on YouTube?

Creating chapters on YouTube can significantly enhance the viewing experience and offer several benefits for both creators and viewers:

  1. Improved Navigation: Chapters allow viewers to easily skip to specific sections of a video that interest them the most, making it more convenient to navigate through long videos.
  2. Enhanced Engagement: When viewers can quickly find the content that interests them, they’re likely to watch more of the video or return to it multiple times, which can increase overall engagement and viewing time.
  3. Better Organization: Chapters help organize content into clear, digestible segments. This organization can make a video appear more professional and easier to follow.
  4. Accessibility: Chapters can make videos more accessible by providing a clearer roadmap of the content, which is particularly beneficial for people who need to process information in smaller chunks.
  5. SEO Benefits: Including keywords in chapter titles can potentially improve a video’s searchability on YouTube and Google. This can attract more viewers who are searching for specific information covered in your video.
  6. Increased Retention: By allowing viewers to jump directly to the parts they are interested in, chapters reduce the likelihood of viewers leaving the video early out of frustration or lack of interest in certain sections.
  7. Analytical Insights: YouTube provides analytics on viewership across different parts of the video. Chapters can help creators understand which sections are more engaging or where viewers might lose interest, informing content improvements or ideas for future videos.

Overall, chapters contribute to a more positive and user-friendly viewing experience, potentially leading to higher viewer satisfaction, increased watch time, and better performance of the video on the platform.

Do all YouTube videos need chapters?

Not all YouTube videos need chapters, and whether to use them depends on the nature and structure of the content. Longer videos, educational content, and series or segmented content can benefit from chapters. Short videos, videos meant to be watched in one go such as music videos, or narrative content such as vlogs or cinematic content might not benefit from chapters. Consider how chapters may affect engagement and video flow when deciding if a video needs chapters.


Are Chapters Good For YouTube Videos?

Success on YouTube is about talent, luck, and consistency, but that doesn’t mean taking little steps like this can’t help you. It shows your audience that you value their time. More importantly, it acknowledges that many viewers just want to jump to the content they want.

View adding chapters as a step towards marketing your videos to the widest audience possible. Not to mention, it’s one of the easiest things you can do to improve your YouTube videos.

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