How to Make Chapters in YouTube: The Most Reliable Method

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If you’ve ever watched a video on YouTube, you may have noticed a list of timestamps with chapter markers in the description area, where the video is broken up into segments.

The video chapters feature on YouTube allows users to skim through your video quickly. You can think of it like a table of contents, but for videos.

You can see the chapters broken up in the video’s timeline by hovering over the video on your desktop or by tapping the screen on a mobile device.

There are a number of benefits to adding chapters to your YouTube video, which we’ll get into more later. Luckily, adding chapters to your video is quite simple.

description box example

How to make chapters in YouTube manually

In my experience, adding chapters to your video manually is the best method. Adding your chapters manually can give you more control over your content and chapter titles.

To add them manually, simply follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube Studio on your channel
  2. Select Content on the left menu
  3. Select the video you wish to edit
  4. In the description field, make a list of timestamps and titles, starting with 0:00 or 00:00. (See details below)
  5. Save your work

Let me elaborate on Step 4. Ahead of time, you’ll need to consider how you want your video to be broken up and note the times in the video when you start that section.

The timestamps and descriptions should be separated with either a single space or a hyphen. Remember, it’s very important that the first chapter starts with 0:00 or 00:00 and a space.

For example, you would type something like this in your description box:

00:00 – Intro

01:25 – Equation #1

02:48 – Equation #2

When writing your chapter titles, be sure to use short, descriptive titles. It’s best if you can pack your titles with keywords that a user might search for.

Remember, the minimum length of a video chapter is ten seconds long. The timestamps should be in ascending, chronological order.

check box for automatic captions

How do I enable automatic chapters on YouTube?

Simply follow these steps to enable automatic chapters on your video:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube Studio on your channel
  2. Select Content on the left menu
  3. Select the video you wish to edit
  4. Select Show More
  5. Under Automatic Chapters, check the box for “Allow automatic chapters and key moments
  6. Save your work

When you select this option, by default, the box will be checked for all new uploads. If you do not see your chapters or do not like your chapters with this method, you can always go back to the manual method above.

advanced settings on youtube

How to remove automatic video chapters

If you do not like YouTube’s automatic video chapters, it’s simple to remove them.

  1. Sign in to your YouTube Studio on your channel
  2. Go to Settings on the left menu
  3. Go to Upload defaults
  4. Under Advanced settings, uncheck the box that says “Allow automatic chapters and key moments

It’s important to note that when you manually add chapters to the video’s description, it will override automatic chapters.

Should I put chapters in my YouTube videos?

The short answer is yes. Many of the experienced content creators on YouTube will utilize chapters in their videos. Why?

There’s certainly a benefit to chapters, particularly for longer videos.

One of the main benefits of YouTube chapters is the user experience. A chapter can break up a long video into clips. And as I’m sure you could guess, most of today’s users like their entertainment customized and in bite-sized nuggets.

Chapters can help your viewers determine whether or not there will be something in the video that piques their interest later on, or skip to a certain part that they’re interested in instead of losing interest and instead finding someone else’s video.

When your viewers see your content as easy to digest, you are more likely to see better audience retention.

The second benefit to using YouTube chapters is that it actually helps you show up in search results.

Search engines are able to look for chapter titles and timecodes. These markers may help your video show up in Google search results or even show up as a featured snippet.

This is true for all types of videos.

How many subs do you need for YouTube chapters?

Some sources say that YouTube requires 1,000 subscribers, but that no longer seems to be the case.

As a test, I manually added a few chapters to a personal channel of mine that has a whopping 16 subscribers. I was able to add chapters to my videos without any problems.

However, it is true that chapters may not be available on all videos.

Read Also: What is an instant premiere on YouTube? Should you use it?

Why doesn’t my YouTube video have chapters?

If your channel has any active strikes against it, such as active copyright strikes, the chapters feature may not be available for you.

Also, the chapters feature may not be available if the video has content that is inappropriate for some viewers.

If you’re experiencing technical difficulties with your chapters, try the manual method over the automatic one. If your timestamps are not linked, make sure the first timestamp begins with 0:00 or 00:00. Also, make sure each chapter has a minimum length of 10 seconds.

Finally, be sure that you’re using a colon in your timestamp (01:25) instead of a semicolon (01;25) or a period (01.25). Last but not least, your timestamp and title should be on the same line.

If you have done this correctly, the timestamps will appear in blue to show that they are linked.

Do you prefer that a YouTube video has chapters? Do you have any questions about adding them to your channel? Let me know in the comments below.

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Alaina O'Neal

Alaina O’Neal is a freelancer and blogger with over a decade of design and print experience‭. ‬She is certified in user experience design and digital media‭. ‬Alaina is‭ ‬also a 4x Tennessee Press Association‭ (‬TPA‭) ‬award winner.

4 thoughts on “How to Make Chapters in YouTube: The Most Reliable Method”

  1. I’ve tried EVERYTHING and it’s still not working I only have 10 subscribers. I’ve followed several guides and it’s still not working does it take time? I’ve read some guides saying it could take up to 24 hours? So do they show up immediately for you? PLEASE help me

  2. I have been using chapters in our read along book videos. I found your article because I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra time and effort for shorter videos (under 7 minutes). Thank you for your detailed explanation!

  3. I am having the same problem as Joe! I have done everything correctly – no active copyright strikes – everything is linked in blue in the description – but the actual chapter markings on the video (so you can tab ahead to the next chapter as you’re watching) won’t show up. I’ve done this many times before and never had an issue. Do you know if the rules on Youtube have suddenly changed? And they’re now enforcing the 1,000 subscriber rule? Would be grateful for a response.

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