Content Creation

How To Make Chapters On YouTube

Vukasin Ilic 8 min read
How To Make Chapters On YouTube

As the platform has grown, YouTube has introduced many tools for making the most of its service, both for users and creators.

One that has made a big difference to how videos are watched and navigated through are chapters.

These simple subdivisions let viewers know what is coming up in the rest of the video, so they can skip ahead or re-watch the most relevant content to them.

In this guide, you’ll learn more about YouTube chapters, how they can benefit your channel, when to use them and when not, and, most importantly, how to add them to your own videos.

With a few simple steps, you can add a lot of value to your channel.

What Are YouTube Chapters?

YouTube chapters are subsections of your videos.

They come with timestamps and their own preview, making it easier to navigate between each part.

This allows viewers to find the most relevant information for them, which can be especially helpful for re-watching what they have already seen.

These chapters can be added manually and automatically to videos.

You can choose the exact points when you want to add a section, or you can leave it up to YouTube’s chapter system.

These automatic chapters can be edited later on.

Benefits Of Using YouTube Chapters

There are several benefits to using YouTube chapters. They can be broken down into two categories:

  • Prominent visibility
  • Improved user experience

Both of these benefits feed into each other, which shows how important chapters can be for your channel.

As your videos increase in visibility, more viewers will see and enjoy them, leading to even further visibility.

Here’s how.

Prominent Visibility

As with most major websites these days, YouTube has its own search engine that reads keywords and suggests the most relevant videos.

The more you invest in search engine optimization (SEO), the more likely it is that your content will be picked up by YouTube’s algorithm.

This is noticeable through the titles, descriptions, and tags that you use.

Chapters also have titles, so they can be used as an extra chance to include optimized keywords in your video.

So, the more chapters you have, the more keywords you can include (without keyword stuffing), and the more visibility and impressions your video will gain.

Concert videos are a great example of content that should include chapters.

For example, if a channel uploads a video of the band Queen live in concert but doesn’t add chapters for the individual songs, it will miss out on viewers who are looking for a specific song.

However, if the creator adds a chapter called Don’t Stop Me Now, users who want to listen to that song will be suggested the whole concert in their search results, with the opportunity to skip ahead to the chapter they desire.

While this is useful on YouTube, it’s even better for Google search results.

When a user searches for their query, they will get websites, blogs, videos, and more in their suggested results.

If your video has chapters with the best keywords, it can show on Google.

If it doesn’t, it might become just another piece of content in the vast sea of search engines.

Improved User Experience

As mentioned above, videos with chapters are easier to navigate through. This makes them better for viewers who are searching for a specific piece of information.

While you can choose to make shorter videos out of your long-form content, you can also add chapters so that users can skip to the most relevant parts for them.

A great example of how chapters improve a user’s experience in long-form content is descriptive or how-to videos.

For example, if your niche is car maintenance and you have a long video regarding taking care of the engine, you could upload one titled "Engine Maintenance for a Renault Clio".

Users who only want to know how to add oil to their Renault engine won’t want to watch a 20-minute video as they want a quick fix.

This is where chapters come in handy.

Adding a chapter entitled "Adding Oil to Your Renault Clio" will make your video show up in the viewer’s search results as it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

They will skip to the relevant section and you will have increased your metrics instead of some other creator on YouTube.

And, if the viewer enjoys that chapter, they might stick around for more or subscribe to your channel for more tips that they might need later on.

So, by adding chapters to your videos, you will improve your viewers’ experience and increase your visibility at the same time.

You just need to focus on adding relevant keywords and dividing your videos in the best way.

When And When Not to Use Chapters

Not all videos should have chapters to split them into sections. While some can benefit from these divisions, others might suffer.

When you know the best length for your videos depending on your style and niche, you’ll have a better idea of when and when not to add subsections.

Here are some examples of videos that should have chapters (long-form content):

  • How-tos
  • Educational videos
  • Video listicles
  • Long-form reviews
  • Long-form interviews
  • Music-related videos (concerts and full albums)

The best way to think about these videos is if they have subtopics or not.

How-tos can have chapters for each of the steps in the process, and concerts or albums can be subdivided by song.

And if you’re making video listicles, each part of the list can have its own chapter as long as you are giving a description over a few minutes of each article.

Now that you’ve seen some examples of content that would benefit from chapters, here are some that wouldn’t (short-form content):

  • Highly-engaging videos
  • Entertainment-focused videos
  • Short reviews
  • Short interviews
  • Music-related videos (music videos, promos, etc.)

If your focus is on short-form content, you should be aiming for highly-engaging videos with high watch times and retention rates.

Adding chapters can distract your viewers from the content and give them the chance to skip ahead to what they think might be more entertaining.

Seeing as the watch time would be low anyway because the video is short, it would be even lower if users were skipping ahead.

How to Add Chapters to YouTube Videos

Now that you know more about YouTube chapters, here are the details on how to add them.

You can do this automatically by using YouTube’s chapter system or manually.

Be aware that not every user is able to add chapters to their videos.

If you have any strikes against your account or are trying to publish inappropriate content, chapter usage can be blocked.

How to Add Automatic Chapters

YouTube can automatically add chapters to your videos.

This can be useful for quickly dividing your video into sections, but might not be split in the best way. You can try it out and see how it works for you and your channel.

Automatic chapters are automatically enabled for all new videos. Here’s how to turn them on for any of your videos that don’t have them:

  • Open YouTube Studio.
  • Click on Content in the left menu.
  • Select the video you want to add chapters to.
  • Click Show More then select “Allow automatic chapters (when available and eligible)” under the Automatic Chapters section.
  • Hit Save.

Once you have done that, you can edit the chapters that are automatically assigned. Here’s how:

  • Open YouTube Studio.
  • Click on Content in the left menu.
  • Select the video you want to add chapters to.
  • Click on Chapters available then Add Chapters. They will appear in your description and are available to edit. You can change the titles and timestamps as you wish. You can also click Delete to remove any unwanted chapters.
  • Hit Save.

Seeing as automatic chapters are automatically enabled when available, you have the option to disable them for all videos. You just need to follow these steps:

  • Open YouTube Studio.
  • Open Settings.
  • Select Upload defaults.
  • Click on Advanced settings, then uncheck “Allow automatic chapters (when available and eligible)”.
  • Hit Save.

Finally, if you only want to disable automatic chapters for a specific video, you can do the following:

  • Open YouTube Studio.
  • Click on Content in the left menu.
  • Select the video you want to add chapters to.
  • Click Show More then unselect “Allow automatic chapters (when available and eligible)” under the Automatic Chapters section.
  • Hit Save.

How to Manually Add Chapters

For anyone who wants more control over their chapters, creators can manually add chapters by inserting timestamps and titles into the video’s description.

Here’s how:

  • Open YouTube Studio.
  • Click on Content in the left menu.
  • Select the video you want to add chapters to.
  • Go to the Description box and add a list of timestamps and titles.
  • Hit Save.

There are a few rules to keep in mind.

The first timestamp must begin at 00:00, marking the beginning of the first chapter at the start of the video.

There must be at least three timestamps per video and they have to be listed in ascending order. And the minimum length for a chapter is 10 seconds.

Here is an example of a list of chapters in a video’s description box:

00:00 - Introduction on making a podcast.

1:31 - What gear do you need?

4:08 - How to use podcast editing software.

Don’t forget to add keywords that are relevant to the topic in the titles.

Don’t use words that aren’t pertinent to your video’s content, and don’t overdo it.

YouTube’s algorithm can recognize the overuse of keywords, just as it can with the overuse of tags.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my video’s chapters are helping?

Checking the stats for your videos and channel are always the best way to see how functions like chapters are working.

Metrics like average percentage viewed, watch time, retention rate, average view duration, and more can show you how well your videos are performing.

If you have any long videos without chapters, you can try adding some and then checking those metrics after a few days.

If you notice a boost in any of the stats, you can try uploading your next video with chapters in place from the start and see how they do.

Why aren’t my YouTube chapters working?

If you have added chapters to a video but they aren’t working, the most common issue is that the first timestamp is incorrect.

You always have to start from 00:00 and go on from there.

Even if you don’t feel that the intro is relevant to add because it’s the beginning, you still need to do it so that the system recognizes the starting point as the first chapter and moves on in order.

Another problem that arises is through not putting the chapters in ascending order.

You can’t write in the timestamps randomly or from end to beginning. Always start at 00:00 and make sure the remaining chapters go from beginning to end.


YouTube chapters are a fantastic tool for adding value to your videos.

They create a system for viewing that is easy to navigate, allowing viewers to rewatch or find the information that is most relevant to them.

You can add chapters automatically or manually with a few simple steps, starting in the YouTube Studio area.

It’s important to remember to always start from 00:00 and that you need a minimum of three chapters that are at least 10 seconds long.

If you use them correctly, these subdivisions can lead to an improved user experience and prominent visibility on YouTube and even Google.

So check if your videos are eligible for chapters and start adding them for better stats.

Feel free to let us know in the comments how chapters work for you.


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