YouTube Guidelines

Upload a video to YouTube

  1. Log in to your YouTube channel.
  2. In the upper right corner, click the video camera icon and select “Upload video.”
  3. Drag and drop your video file onto the page or click “Select files” to choose a file from your computer to upload.
  4. Enter a title and description for the video.
    • Your title should include “Carleton College” somewhere in it (this can be at the end of the title after a dividing line, i.e. “[Title] | Carleton College”)
    • Your description should include 1-2 sentences describing the video topic, any links relevant to the video topic, and links to your Carleton webpage and Carleton-associated social media accounts. The exact phrases of “Carleton College” and “Northfield, Minnesota” should also be included for SEO (search engine optimization—meaning more people will find your videos).
  5. Under the “Thumbnail” section, select one of the automatically generated thumbnails if they look acceptable or upload your own.
    • Thumbnails should be simple but eye-catching and represent the content of the video well. Opt for a colorful graphic if possible.
  6. Under the “Playlists” section, add the video to a playlist if appropriate. This step is optional, but helpful both in managing content and for your viewers if they would like to see similar content.
  7. Under the “Audience” section, select “No, it’s not made for kids.”
  8. Click “Show More” to see more options for settings. Most of these do not need to be changed, but the language needs to be set for captions to work, and it’s a good idea to give all of it a quick glance each time to make sure the default selections match what you want. In general, these should be your settings:
    • No paid promotions (box should be unselected)
    • Allow automatic chapters (box should be selected)
    • Allow automatic places (box should be selected)
    • No need to add tags unless your video topic is commonly misspelled
    • Set language to whichever language is being spoken in the video
    • No need to add a recording date or location
    • Standard YouTube License and allow embedding (box should be selected)
    • Allow people to sample content for Shorts (box should be selected)
    • Set video category to “Education” or something else relevant to the video topic
    • Choose “Hold potentially inappropriate comments for review”
    • Show how many viewers like this video (box should be selected)
  9. Click “Next” in the bottom right corner to get to the “Video elements” step.
  10. If you have a separate caption file (generally SRT file type) for the video, click “Add” in the “Add subtitles” section, select “Upload file,” leave “With timing” selected, and select the correct file from your computer.
  11. You can also optionally “Add an end screen” or “Add cards” to your video in the “Video elements” step, both of which can link your audience out to other places.
  12. Click “Next” in the bottom right corner to get to the “Checks” step.
    • If there are no copyright issues with your video, you don’t need to do anything here.
  13. Click “Next” in the bottom right corner to get to the “Visibility” step.
  14. Select either “Unlisted” or “Public,” depending on your needs, and publish the video or schedule it to be published at a specific date/time.
    • We do not recommend using “Private,” as this will prompt the user to log in and not display a video thumbnail.
    • “Public” will allow users to discover the video while browsing. If you select this option, do not check the box for “instant Premiere.”
    • “Unlisted” requires a direct link to view and the video will not be displayed on your YouTube channel.

General YouTube style guidelines

  • Follow all of Carleton’s Social Media Guidelines when it comes to your content and channel management.
  • You must caption all of your videos for accessibility.
  • You can use the official Carleton bumper at the end of your videos to make your video look professional.
  • If you’re proud of your content, promote your YouTube channel on your other Carleton social media accounts, like Twitter/X and Instagram, to grow your following.
  • Filming tips
    • Get to the point of the story, but don’t rush.
    • Use your B-roll to support the story.
    • Make cuts to the A-roll deliberate.
    • Be very selective, and only use the best of the best of your footage.
    • Consider how your eye moves across the screen when cutting between shots, and be careful of sudden focal point shifts that might jar your viewer.
    • Allow shots to breathe so the viewer has enough time to take everything in.
    • Use music to your advantage and cut on the beat.
    • End on a strong visual.
    • Don’t use shaky footage.

Video Captioning Guidelines

Why do videos need to be captioned?

It is the right thing to do. Captions make videos more accessible to those who are deaf/hard of hearing and those for whom English is not their first language.

ADA compliance. Not captioning videos could potentially create a lawsuit for the College. All colleges and universities are expected to comply with ADA regulations unless they can prove undue hardship. For more information on ADA compliance and legal requirements, contact Carleton’s Office of Accessibility Resources.

To maximize the reach of your video. Captioning videos allows people to watch on their mobile devices, in public, or when their device is muted. It also increases watch time, which is a factor in many platforms’ algorithms and may help boost your content and expand the reach of your video.

How to get a caption file

Videos created by the Division of Communications will have captions included in the final file delivery. Departments that create their own videos are responsible for providing their own captions. Freelance videographers will likely not provide captions unless asked to do so, so be sure to include that in your freelancing agreement/contract if it is cost-effective.

Use (preferred) or a similar service, which offers accurate and inexpensive ADA-compliant captions. Create your own account and plan to spend $1/min for captioning services. You should allow 24 hours for your video to be captioned. Always check your captions for accuracy before uploading.

The end product generated by is a caption file. Most caption files are plain text files with time codes indicating the start and stop times. Popular caption file formats include SRT (preferred), WebVTT, and TTML, all of which are supported by YouTube. has information for uploading completed captions to Facebook as well. Alternative platforms may have a different interface, but you can expect the sequence to follow generally the same steps as those for YouTube or Facebook.

Add a caption file to your already-uploaded YouTube video

  1. Click on your channel logo in the upper right corner and select “YouTube Studio” to pull up your channel dashboard.
  2. In the left-hand column of options, select “Content” and navigate to the video you need to add captions to by scrolling or using the search feature. Click on the video title to pull up the “Video details” page.
  3. In the left-hand column of options, select “Subtitles.” You may see YouTube’s auto-generated captions as a line entry. If so, under the “Subtitles” column to the far right, click the 3-dot icon and delete the auto-caption file.
  4. There will now be an “Add” option under the “Subtitles” column. Click that, select “Upload file,” leave “With timing” selected, select the correct SRT file from your computer, and hit “Publish.”

Edit auto-generated captions for your already-uploaded YouTube video

Auto-captions from YouTube are automatically added to a video once it is uploaded, if they are available (excessive length and/or low-quality audio may prevent this). Processing time is dependent on the audio’s complexity, so they may not be available right after you upload your video. Auto-captions should always be edited for accuracy to comply with Carleton’s accessibility standards.

  1. Click on your channel logo in the upper right corner and select “YouTube Studio” to pull up your channel dashboard.
  2. In the left-hand column of options, select “Content” and navigate to the video you need to add captions to by scrolling or using the search feature. Click on the video title to pull up the “Video details” page.
  3. In the right-hand column of options, select “Subtitles.” You can then “Edit timings” or “Edit as text” to make sure the words are correct and that they come up on the screen at the right times. Make sure any sound effects are included in the captions.
  4. Once edits are complete, click “Done.”

What if my chosen social media platform doesn’t allow for caption files?

You still need captions! If your platform does not allow for the upload of a separate caption file, generate captions itself, or allow you to embed from YouTube (e.g. Instagram), you need to upload a version of the video to that platform with open or forced captions, which burn the captions onto the video file and do not allow the viewer to turn them on or off. Services like can provide this version along with the caption file.