The introduction of chapters on YouTube videos may seem like a small feature, but it has transformed how audiences can engage with their favorite creators. If you’re serious about making the most out of YouTube then you should take the time to learn about every feature available to you, including YouTube chapters. So what are they, how do they work, and how do you add chapters to YouTube videos?

What are chapters on a YouTube video?

Chapters basically split YouTube videos up into sections. There might not be a difference within the video itself but you’ll see the playbar at the bottom of the video frame divided into sections rather than one continuous line. Hover over those sections and you’ll see a short title or description for each one.

The way audiences interact with videos has changed over time. With so many videos now clocking in between 10 and 15 minutes, and often providing detailed lists or reviews, not every minute of a video might be relevant to every viewer. Chapters give viewers a sense of how the video is broken up and which sections are of most interest to them. They can then skip forward and back to watch and rewatch key moments, and chapters act like a navigational tool for them.

If, for instance, a video is discussing the top ten products you should own as a photographer or other creative, chapters would let you quickly scrub through and identify which products will be mentioned in the video. You can then decide which sections of the video are most interesting to you and which ones you can probably skip over.

This kind of user-focused feature helps audiences warm to you and it’s more likely they will stay engaged with your content when you make it easy for them to watch it.

How to add chapters to your YouTube video

Adding chapters to your YouTube video is easy and can be done directly within YouTube once you have edited your video and want to post it. There are two options to choose from: you can either add them manually, or you can decide for YouTube’s AI to suggest potential chapter markers for you. It will do this by automatically detecting moments within the video where there are likely to be breaks, like when you stop talking for a moment to change subject.

Adding your own chapters to your YouTube videos will give you the most control, so unless you’re in a desperate rush that will likely be the option for you to choose. You can add chapters either before you have published the video or you can go back and edit an existing video.

To add chapters to a YouTube video:

  1. Go to YouTube Studio.
  2. Select Content from the menu on the left.
  3. Select the video you want to add chapters to.
  4. In the Description field, add timestamps and the names of the chapters you want at each timestamp. The first chapter must always start at 00:00.
  5. You will need to add at least three timestamps, each one ten seconds long. Once you have done that, click Save.

If you want YouTube to automatically suggest chapters for you, select the video you want to add chapters to then click Show More. You should be presented with an option that says “Allow automatic chapters (when available and eligible).” Simply select it, then Save your video. This will let YouTube detect what is within the video and propose chapters based on that.

Use VideoStudio Pro to edit your videos

Adding chapters to YouTube videos will only be effective if your videos are split into a navigable format where it makes sense to label chapters. If your video is a stream of consciousness experimental art film, then adding chapters won’t be as effective as if your video lists your top ten hair and beauty tips.

To make sure you have structured your video the best it can be, edit it with video editing software like VideoStudio Pro. By giving yourself complete control over your narrative structure, you can ensure you are creating the most engaging video possible for your audience. VideoStudio Pro also unlocks a world of creative tools to enhance your videos, including color filters, graphics, captions,music, and effects.

Use YouTube chapters to engage your audience

If you want to make the most of YouTube and grow your audience, use chapters to clearly signpost what your content is and help audiences navigate through it. This can easily be done within YouTube Studio either manually or automatically, and ultimately make your audience’s experience watching your videos an easy one.

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