How to fix errors in Youtube’s Automatic Captions – a 5-step guide

How to fix errors in Youtube’s Automatic Captions – a 5-step guide

The Australian Federal Government’s adoption of the WCAG 2.0 Web Accessibility Guidelines requires video content on government websites to be captioned. And Youtube Automatic Captions are here to help.

Captions are essential to enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing to watch video presentations. Captions also provide useful metadata that is indexed by Google and improves page rankings.

You can upload a caption file to your videos hosted on Youtube to ensure compliance, but even if you don’t, Youtube will create captions automatically. As with most automatic transcription services there will be some errors, as seen here:

bad Youtube captions error

If you don’t correct inaccurate captions like this, you are alienating viewers, and tarnishing your search results. Worst of all, you risk confusing the message you are trying to share.

Luckily Youtube provides an easy interface to check and correct the automatic captions, and also to upload a caption file if you have one.

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Watch our tutorial here, or keep reading.

Step 1

Log in to your Youtube channel and go into Video Manager, and click “Edit” on the video you want to fix.

How to fix errors in Youtube Automatic Captions

Step 2

Click “Subtitles & CC” from the top menu, then click “English (Automatic).” If you have added your own captions they will be listed here as well.

How to fix mistakes in Youtube Automatic Captions

Step 3

Click “Edit”

help with Youtube Automatic Captions

Step 4

Play the video, hitting pause when you need to correct the transcript. Type your changes in the text boxes. You will need to add punctuation too.

5 steps to fix errors in Youtube Automatic Captions

Step 5

When you’re happy with your changes, click “Publish edits”

Youtube Automatic Captions error

That’s it! Your new captions are now live. There are more things you can do here in the Youtube editor, like upload a transcript or captions file, and you can even download Youtube’s captions to use elsewhere.

If you are creating or editing your captions, keep in mind these two tips:

  • For readability, don’t let lines go too long. Insert a line break with Shift-Enter (Shift-Return on Mac)
  • Captions should include relevant non-speech sounds, such as important sound effects or music. Use parentheses for these, e.g. (Telephone rings), (Cheerful music plays)

As you can see, this process works well for a short video, but can be very time consuming. If you are publishing videos in the public sector, you should procure captions from a professional captioning service. They will ensure that your captions are accurate and meet readability guidelines.

If you haven’t heard about the Australian Federal Government’s captioning policy, read more about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Also published on Medium.

Ben is a screen industry professional with expertise in television and multimedia production. With more than 20 years’ experience in news and current affairs, Ben has worked as a camera operator and video editor for several Australian TV networks and has covered national and international news based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Canberra. At content group he has filmed and edited video projects for clients such as DFAT and the University of Canberra. He has an Associate Diploma in Art (TV Production) from CSU.

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