YouTube Chapters: The Ultimate Guide

by Matthias Funk | | Category: YouTube Marketing

What are YouTube chapters? How are they different from timestamps? How to add chapters to YouTube videos? If you are confused and want to learn how to use the new YouTube feature, then you should definitely check out this article!

What Are YouTube Chapters?

Chapters break up your YouTube video into sections, each with an individual preview. These chapters can help viewers by giving more info and context by allowing them to rewatch different parts of the video.

Video Chapters are automatically generated based on timestamps you enter in the video description and will show in the video progress bar (aka the “video scrubber bar”) below your video. In the following video Jan Fassbender explains the benefits of chapters and how to add them to your videos:

Open video player in lightbox

According to YouTube’s own official channel chapters can help audiences to better navigate within the videos:

”Chapters help viewers better navigate and enjoy your videos.” YouTube Creators

YouTube chapter markers are also visible on Google Search when using a mobile device. This helps viewers to skip chapters when they are on-the-go.

youtube chapters in search seo

Moreover, YouTube chapters can help your video being displayed as so-called Suggested Clips super-prominently on Google (see below.)

A Suggested Clip (aka Video Featured Snippet) appears atop of SERPs for How-To search terms with visual user intent. Unlike other video search results on Google, Suggested Clips jump to a specific point in the video where the answer to the search query appears. As you can see from the example below, the search term is included in one of the chapter titles of our video. So this strongly suggests a correlation between the chapter title and Suggested Clips.

How to your YouTube video as Suggested Clip aka Featured Video Snippet

So how does this work?

How to Add Chapters to YouTube Videos?

To add chapter markers for your YouTube video:

  1. Sign in to YouTube.
  2. Go to the video you want to edit.
  3. Select “Edit Video” under the video.
  4. In the “Description” box of the “Add details” page, add a list of timestamps and titles.
  5. Click “Save”.

Chapters will then show up alongside the scrubber bar as segments. You can do this while uploading your video or later when editing it. tubics’ YouTube SEO tool can also help you with this. It automatically checks on the proper formatting and gives you additional advice on what to optimize further regarding video title, description, and tags.

how to add timestamps to youtube video

YouTube Timestamp Format

A single timestamp technically contains two things that get entered in the description and displayed on Google Search:

1. Timecode: the time when a chapter starts.
2. Chapter Content (or label)

video on google with timestamps

To create YouTube chapters, add a list of timestamps in the following format:

m:ss - [Chapter Content]  for video lengths shorter than 10 minutes

mm:ss - [Chapter Content]  for video lengths between 10 and 59 minutes

hh:mm:ss - [Chapter Content] for videos longer than 1 hour

For spacing and separation of the timestamp, you can use dashes or just add a single space. Which one you use doesn’t really matter because YouTube will just take the text afterward.

“Make sure the first timestamp listed in your video description starts at 0:00, and that your video has at least 3 timestamps or chapters, with each chapter being 10 seconds or longer.” YouTube Help

Changes to your timestamps usually get updated immediately. If they don’t update immediately, YouTube says that they will update in the next 24 hours. If they don’t, make sure you formatted your timestamps correctly.

YouTube Chapters Not Working?

There can be several reasons why YouTube chapters might not work for your video. Reasons can be

  • You haven’t added a 00:00 timestamp
  • You have added less than 3 chapters
  • One of your chapters has less than 10 seconds
  • The timestamps are not listed in chronological order
  • You may have entered timecodes with . instead of :
  • Your channel has active copyright strikes
  • Your channel has less than 1k subscribers
  • Your video content could be potentially inappropriate to some viewers

How to Display YouTube Chapters

YouTube chapters get displayed both on desktop and on mobile. You can see the chapters by hovering over the red video progress bar. But you can also maximize the chapters by clicking on the chapter title in the video. This way you see all video chapters right next to your video on desktop or below the video on mobile.

youtube chapters on mobile

Should All Videos Have Chapter Markers?

The answer is no! For certain types of videos, it simply doesn’t make sense to add chapters. If your video is short (i.e. features a length of less than 2 minutes) or relates to the following content categories I’d rather advise against adding chapters:

  • Film & Animation
  • Music
  • Comedy
  • Entertainment

Chapters here can reduce watch time and audience retention and so let your video rank worse on search engines.

Categories like News & PoliticsHowto & StyleEducation and Science & Technology may on the other hand benefit through chapters since users might re-watch certain chapters.

I mentioned earlier that longer videos can especially benefit from chapter markers. However, please always consider what’s best in your particular case. For example, you upload an interview and include some intriguing topics in the title (clickbaity in a way).

How to disable YouTube chapters?

Just change the first timestamp from 00:00 to something else. For example:

00:00 Intro ——> 00:03 Intro

Are chapters available in every country?

According to YouTube, yes, they are. They are available in every country and every language. Warning! The chapter text will only be in the language of the creator. It won’t be translated.

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