An audience at a performance

Adding subtitles to YouTube

Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audience members are much more likely to come to your theatre and watch your captioned (or British Sign Language Interpreted) performances if they’re able to watch your online trailer videos.  Subtitling your online video content is one of the easiest ways to make your work accessible to a wider range of audiences.

If you’re paying professionals to create, film and edit your video, you should consider getting a professional subtitling firm to create your subtitles, or you could consider asking video companies to include subtitles in their quotes to you.

However, it’s really easy to add basic captions or subtitles to your YouTube videos.  Here’s how to do it:

Method 1

This method takes a bit longer than the one below, but it gives the best result.

Step 1

After you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube, go to , put the URL in the box and click “Subtitle”


Step 2

On the next page, click “Subtitle Me” under the video, and select “English, British” (or whatever language your video is in) for both the original video and the subtitle file.  Then click “CONTINUE”.


(You can use Amara to make translating subtitles too.)

Step 3

You’ll then have a chance to watch a video telling you how to do the first step of subtitling your video (this video isn’t subtitled, sorry).


Then, start to transcribe what’s being said.  If you’ve got the original script, this will help.


Step 4

Follow the instructions on the next video to add in timing


Step 5

Amara will then ask you to check the title & description of the video.  It will have taken them from YouTube, so these should be fine.

Step 6

You can now check your subtitles and correct any mistypes, timing and so on.  Play the video a few times until you’re happy with how the video and the text work together.


  • You can use a # symbol to show when someone’s singing
  • Include important sound effects in [square brackets]
  • Use a CHARACTER NAME:  when it isn’t clear who is speaking from the video

Step 7

You then need to download the subtitles using this button:


This will be a SRT file, you won’t be able to open it on your computer but that doesn’t matter.  Save it somewhere.

Step 8

Then you need to open up your YouTube account.  In the top right of the screen, click on “Video Manager”


Step 9

Find the video you want to add the captions to, and then click on the down arrow next to Edit and click “Captions”


Step 10

Click on “Upload caption file or transcript”


Browse to the file you saved, and then upload it like this –


Step 11

You’re done!  Now when someone looks at your video on YouTube they can choose to see the captions, or not, using the transcript button the bottom right of the screen.



Method 2

This is quicker, but the timing can get out of sync for all but the simplest of videos.

Step 1

Write a transcript, in notepad, of all the words in the video.


You’ll need to leave a space between each line.  Again if you have the original script this will help.

Step 2

Go to the Video Manager page in YouTube, as before, and upload the file.


This time you need to select “Transcript file” when you’re uploading them.

YouTube will then do its best to match the transcript to the timing of the video automatically.

But it won’t always work, like this:



Method 3

This isn’t really a good method, but I’m including it here so that you know why you shouldn’t do it.

If you press the CC or Subtitles button and choose “English (automatic captions)”, YouTube will do its best to use voice recognition technology to transcribe the video.  This usually only bears a passing resemblance to what is actually being said, like this:


However, it is possible to use the automatic captioning button to create a draft subtitle file that you can then edit & correct.

You can go and look at the results of all three methods of creating subtitles on Festival of the Spoken Nerd’s YouTube page.

Written by Lissy Lovett of Stagetext, February 2013