Adding Captions to Video

This article explores options for adding captions to video content used in online courses. It includes discussion of why it is beneficial, the optional available, and links to more detailed instructions for the options.


Captions are text versions of a video’s audio presentation and are shown or displayed on the screen as the video plays. (Refer to WebAIM’s (Web Accessibility in Mind) page to learn more about the differences between captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions). Instructional videos that include captions ensure that all learners have equal access to the content. There are two general approaches to adding captions to video:

  1. Do it yourself OR 

  2. Outsource it.

Regardless of who or what is used to produce captions for video, the process typically includes one of the following: 

  • Automatically generating captions during the video recording process and then editing the auto-captions post-production for accuracy and punctuation 

  • Using a script to record your video and uploading the script as a caption file to the recorded video 

  • Manually transcribing the recorded video captions while playing it back

Do-it-Yourself Video Captioning

Boise State University provides a variety of access technology resources to help you learn to manually caption and transcribe your videos using a private YouTube account, Boise State Panopto account, or Camtasia Studio. 

YouTube Captions

Captioning in YouTube is very user friendly, as it allows you to listen to the video as you type. When you begin to type, the playback pauses. BSU’s Learning & Technology Solutions team recommends using Panopto instead of YouTube for your Boise State related videos; refer to the Captioning YouTube Videos article for additional information.

Automatic captions tend to be more accurate in YouTube than Camtasia, but captions must be edited for accuracy and punctuation to meet ADA requirements. You can increase the accuracy of automatic captioning if you start with a good microphone and a quiet environment. Videos may be uploaded to YouTube from an MP4 file (refer to the Technical Guidelines for Video article for recommended video formats). Alternatively, many video recording apps have the ability to export or “share” recordings to YouTube directly. Once uploaded, step-by-step instructions to add or edit captions can be found in YouTube Help.

Panopto Captions

All Boise State students, faculty, and staff have access to Boise State’s video hosting service, Panopto. For information on how to upload a script or import and edit automatic captions, please search the featured Panopto video tutorials located on the Panopto home page (Boise State login required for access).

Camtasia Studio Captions

Camtasia Studio can be used to record webcam or screencast videos and includes the ability to edit, animate, add graphics, add closed captions, use webcam and screen footage separately, and publish the video to a variety of sources. The easiest method for generating captions is to use the Speech-to-text engine, then edit the words and/or timing right on the timeline. If you need assistance in generating the captions, simply “Export project as zip...”, and anyone with Camtasia Studio can help you edit, caption, and publish your video.

If you plan to upload your video to Panopto it is recommended that you create your captions in Panopto.  

OIT at Boise State offers training and drop-in sessions on using Camtasia Studio. If you are a heavy video user, this may be the best tool for you. More information can be found in Camtasia Studio Tutorials.

Third-party Captioning Services

Companies such as Automatic Sync Technologies, 3PlayMedia, cielo24, Rev, and many other captioning service providers will caption videos for a fee. Contact these companies directly for additional information.

Consider using the following resources for more information on captioning videos.

Need more help? Try eCampus Center Faculty Development.
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