YouTube timestamps & video chapters - DEFINITIVE GUIDE

YouTube timestamps & video chapters - DEFINITIVE GUIDE
Written by: Dexxter Clark, 22-05-2020
In this article I’ll explain YouTube timestamps in comments and descriptions.
How it works on mobile and desktop, which format to use, how do video chapters work and examples.
If you are looking for a guide YouTube timestamp links, click here.

What are YouTube timestamps?

Timestamps enable the viewer to skip to certain sections in a YouTube video.
This is convenient for a couple of reasons:
  • Overview: this makes it easier for the viewer to get an overview what the video is about.
  • Find information: it allows the viewer to find information that the viewer is looking for. This can be for a first-time-viewer or a returning viewer. Also a first-time-viewer can re-watch certain parts of your video because it was valuable information.
  • Tickle the algorithm: you can spell out for the algorithm what the video is about, so it is easier to pinpoint the topic of the content of the video.
  • Viewers don’t drop off as quickly: its all about watch time on YouTube. You want to grab every opportunity to maximize watch time. 

I’ve found that videos with timestamps tend to perform better than videos with no timestamps.
I’ve also found that timestamps work better than videos with statements like: “go to 12:16 if you are interested in topic X”, because you are basically doing a CTA to skip parts of your video.

Timestamps need to be added by the video creator manually in order to work.
Timestamps are not extracted from your video file (even if the video file supports chapters).

I would advice against timestamps in short videos (< 5 minutes) or when topics are following each other up in a quick pace.
Remember, the timestamps need to be useful to the viewer.

How do timestamps work on mobile?
Exactly the same as on desktop I described above.

Example of YouTube video description with timestamps:


The best computer bla bla bla.

★ TABLE OF CONTENTS ★
0:00 Start
0:55 Expansion 
1:18 Model 1
1:41 Model 2
2:59 Model 3
4:04 Model 4
4:44 Model 5
5:22 Conclusion

How to add a timestamp to a youtube video?

Adding timestamps to your YouTube videos couldn’t be easier:
  • You can add timestamps in the video description of your YouTube video.
  • You can add timestamps in YouTube comments

YouTube will recognize the timestamp and will generate automatically a link that the viewer can click on.
This works for the YouTube mobile app and site as well as the desktop YouTube site.

Timestamp format
The format of the timestamp needs to be:
[hours]:[min]:[sec]

The seconds need to have a leading 0 for seconds if the number of seconds is a single digit.

For example:
  • 1:03 equals 1 minute and 3 seconds.
  • 2:16 equals 2 minutes and 16 seconds
  • 18:43 equals 18 minutes and 43 seconds
  • 31:08 equals 31 minutes and 8 seconds
  • 1:05:02 equals 1 hour, 5 minutes and 2 seconds

How can you add Video Chapters in YouTube videos?

What are YouTube video chapters?
Video chapters are timestamps on steroids.
In fact, video chapters are generated automatically from timestamps.

Adding chapters does 2 things:
• The video chapters are visualized at the bottom of the video in the video progress bar/time line. Little “hickups” in the timeline will mark chapters.
• Behind the elapsed time YouTube will show the name of the chapter).

How to use YouTube video timestamps in progress bar:
  • put timestamps in your video description as you normally would
  • the first timestamp needs to be 0:00 (important!!!)
  • the video needs to have at least 3 timestamps or chapters for it to show
  • each chapter needs to be 10 seconds or longer

How you can switch off the video chapters feature?
Make sure the first timestamp is not 0:00.

Example of YouTube video description with chapters:

The best computer bla bla bla.

★ TABLE OF CONTENTS ★
0:00 Start
0:55 Expansion
1:18 Model 1
1:41 Model 2
2:59 Model 3
4:04 Model 4
4:44 Model 5
5:22 Conclusion


If you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my YouTube e-book.
The book takes you step-by-step through the process of starting a YouTube channel.
How to get more views, subscribers, make money with YouTube, go viral ... and much more.
Click here for more information about my YouTube e-book: "What Big Tubers Don't tell you"

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Dexxter Clark
Content creator / YouTuber
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