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. 

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. 


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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