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Creating your own captions


  • Free to low cost
  • There are many tool options and workflows that will allow you to fit a variety of captioning needs.


  • Time intensive, manual process.
  • Requires many steps to complete.
  • Requires a medium-level of technical expertise.
  • This option will not give you a sense about whether the caption files are accurate.
  • There are many tool options and workflows that will allow you to fit a variety of captioning needs.


You can create caption files yourself using web-based tools and software like MediaSpace, YouTube, and Camtasia Studio. This option is low-cost, but is time intensive and requires a medium-level of technical expertise to complete. We’d recommend using this option only if you have staff or student employees available to type out the captions manually.

For ease of use, you may prefer ordering caption files through a third party captioning service. For more information, read our guide on hiring a third party captioning service.

Ordering Machine Captions from MediaSpace

Machine captions are available at no cost for all media stored in MediaSpace. Once your content is available in MediaSpace, you can order machine captions and edit any inaccuracies using the guidance provided on the MediaSpace Help site

Creating caption files in YouTube

YouTube offers a free captioning service that automatically creates captions for your video, which makes it a good place to begin if you are creating your own captions, especially if you already have a YouTube account. However, it is important to keep in mind that the accuracy of the captions is based on the sound quality of your video content, and clarity of the speaker(s) in your video. Additionally, if the language in your video is very discipline specific, or has complex terminology, this method may not produce accurate caption files.

Since YouTube does not create captions with 100% accuracy, it should be considered a first step towards creating your own captions. This help article from YouTube provides guidance on using their Automatic Captions service. 

Creating caption files in Camtasia

You can also create captions using Camtasia Studio. As you begin, we recommend using the built-in Speech-to-text tool to generate automatic captions, then later editing the caption file for inaccuracies. This feature is only available in Camtasia Studio for PC.

Note: If you have not already purchased Camtasia Studio and would like to do so, visit the MSU Computer Store

Step 1: Using Speech-to-text (STT) to generate captions in Camtasia

Open Camtasia and start a new project. To begin using STT, click on More along the bottom of the screen.

Screenshot of the More button in Camtasia Studio

Next, select Captions from the drop down menu.

Screenshot of More drop down menu with Captions selected

From here, click on the Speech-to-text button as shown below. This will automatically add captions to your video.

Screenshot of Camtasia' Captions creator with Speech-to-text selected

Tips for Generating Accurate Speech-to-text Captions

Consider using the voice training module in order to get higher accuracy when using STT. However, keep in mind, that the voice training module will only work with one voice profile at a time.

To do this, click on Tools located at the top of the screen. From the drop down menu, hover over Speech. Click on Improve speech-to-text...

Screenshot of the Tools dropdown menu with Improve speech-to-text selected from the Speech option

A new window should pop up like the one shown below. Under the section titled Train your computer to understand your voice, click on the Start voice training link.

Screenshot of the Tips for Generating Accurate Speech-to-Text Captions dialogue box

Another window should pop up, click Next. This should begin the voice training process as shown below. Follow the steps by reading the text given out loud.

Screenshot of the Training Text dialogue box

Once the training process is finished, your computer should better understand your personal way of speaking which will help improve accuracy when captioning.

Step 2: Editing captions to correct inaccuracies using Camtasia

If your caption is more than two lines long, split your caption into multiple captions consisting of two lines or less.  This will prevent the system from cutting off the captions along the left and right sides of the video player.

Three line captions must be split as shown below:

Screenshot of Camtasia's Caption Creator with Delete These select, arrows pointing toward highlighted text

Two line captions are the goal as shown below:

Screenshot of Camtasia's Caption Creator

Creating Two Line Captions

To create two line captions, begin by finding the caption you want to split.  

1. select that caption by clicking on it, and moving the waveform cursor over the center of the caption.

2.Once this is done you can click on the split button.

Screenshot of Camtasia's timeline with the split selected

Your caption will be duplicated in each section of the split video. Pick a good spot to make the split to ensure readability.

Screenshot of the Camtasia timeline

Exporting Your Captions

Once you are finished captioning your video, click the export captions button and save it as an .srt file.

Screenshot of the Camtasia Caption Creator with the Export captions button selected