Tutorial: Adding Captions in Camtasia Studio (Full Document)


  1. Introduction
  2. Tools used in this tutorial
  3. Step-by-step instructions
    1. Program overview
    2. Import the video
    3. Set Editing Dimensions
    4. Import the transcript
    5. Position captions under the video
    6. Synchronize the trascript to the video
    7. Tips for creating good captions
    8. Adjust the timing of captions
    9. Save the captioned video
  4. Next steps
  5. Feedback


Although Camtasia Studio is known primarily as a screen capture tool, its ease of use and support for captions make it a robust captioning tool as well. Creating captions in Camtasia involves four basic steps:

  1. Import the video to be captioned
  2. Import the transcript (copy the transcript text and paste into Camtasia)
  3. Synchronize the transcript with the video
  4. Save the captioned video
Figure 1

Figure 1:  Adding captions with Camtasia Studio

The do-it-yourself model of captioning with Camtasia Studio.

Tools used in this tutorial

  • Camtasia Studio (version 7.1 at the time of this writing)
  • Microsoft Word (or any word processor)

Step-By-Step Instructions

Program overview

Before we begin captioning, you should become familiar with several key features of Camtasia Studio:

Figure 2

Figure 2:  The 'Geography' of Camtasia Studio

The do-it-yourself model of captioning with Camtasia Studio.

Locate the following in the image above:

  1. The Import Media button
  2. The Clip Bin (refers to the tab and the region above it where media clips are stored)
  3. The Timeline, where you drag items from the Clip Bin for editing
  4. Editing Dimensions drop-down menu
  5. Menu providing access to additional tabs, including the Captions tab
  6. Timeline maginification controls
  7. Caption track on Timeline
  8. Preview playback controls
  9. Preview window
  10. Produce and share drop-down menu for saving captioned video

Import the Video

  1. Start Camtasia Studio.
  2. Click the “Import Media” button (Fig. 2, No. 1):
    Figure 3

    Figure 3:  Click “Import Media” to add video

  3. Browse for the video file you want to caption. Typically this will be the MP4 video file you created in Handbrake (see tutorials Converting DVD Video to MP4 and Converting Video Files to MP4 ).
  4. When the video has been imported, a thumbnail image will appear in the “Clip Bin” (Fig. 2, No. 2) under the word Video .
  5. Drag the thumbnail image to the Timeline (Fig. 2, No. 3):
    Figure 4

    Figure 4:  Drag video thumbnail to the timeline

Set Editing Dimensions

Once the video appears in the timeline, you will be prompted to choose what Camtasia calls “Editing Dimensions.” These are the dimensions of the video preview and not the final output.

From the Editing Dimensions drop-down menu (Fig. 2, No. 4), select “Recording Dimensions”:

Figure 5

Figure 5:  Set “Editing Dimensions”

Editing Dimensions are the dimensions of the video preview and do not affect the final output.

Note: If the video came from a DVD, it may appear distorted in Camtasia’s preview window. This is normal. The proper proportions will be restored when you save the captioned video.

Importing the transcript

The next step is to copy the transcript text in Microsoft Word and paste it into Camtasia Studio’s caption box.

  1. Click on the “More” button (Fig. 2, No. 5) and select “Captions” from the drop-down menu.
    Figure 6

    Figure 6:  Go to Captions

  2. Open the Microsoft Word transcript document.
  3. Select all of the transcript text (Ctrl+A) and copy it (Ctrl+C).
  4. Click in Camtasia’s gray caption box:
    Figure 7

    Figure 7:  Paste transcript text into caption box

  5. Paste the text into the caption box (Ctrl+V).

Position captions below the video

By default, Camtasia Studio overlays captions on the video. Although this option saves space, some people find it distracting. Also, it may obscure important information in the video. For these reasons, we recommend you position captions below the video.

  1. On the top, right-hand side of the Caption toolbar, click on the “Under video” button, as shown below.
    Figure 8

    Figure 8:  Position captions below the video

Synchronize the transcript with the video

  1. Once the text appears in Camtasia’s caption box, click on the “Sync Captions” button.
  2. In the Sync Captions dialog box, click “Continue” to begin synchronizing the text to the video. Steps 1 and 2 are shown below:
    Figure 9

    Figure 9:  Sync Captions dialog box

    To sychronize the transcript with the video, click the Sync captions button (1), located below the caption text. In the window that opens, click Continue (2) when you're ready to begin.

  3. Once you click “Continue,” the video will begin playing from the beginning. As the video plays, click on a word in the caption box to begin a new caption at that point. Each time you click on a word, a new caption will be created. Repeat this process until all of the text has been captioned.


  1. By default, Camtasia Studio creates three-line captions. Text for the current caption is displayed in black, while text that exceeds the three line limit is shown in red. This color difference helps you to locate the beginning of the next available text:
    Figure 10

    Figure 10:  Caption text, used and unused

    Text that has already been used by Camtasia appears in black, while unused text appears in red.

  2. You can control caption length by clicking on any word when it is spoken, whether the text is black or red. In other words, you do not have to wait until the text turns red before clicking to create a new caption.
  3. Watch out for fragmented sentences caused by awkward caption breaks:
    Figure 11

    Figure 11:  Watch out for caption fragments

    Notice how the second caption contains only a fragment of the sentence.

    This problem can be resolved by ending the first caption at a logical break:

    Figure 12

    Figure 12:  Break captions at logical points for greater readability

Tips for creating good captions

  1. To insert a new line in the caption box, press “Shift+Enter.”
  2. Try to end a caption at a logical break point, such as the end of a sentence.
  3. Whenever possible, avoid ending one sentence and beginning another on the same line.
  4. Remember to place the speaker’s name in parentheses on its own line.

Adjust the timing of captions

Camtasia Studio’s click-as-you-go method of adding captions may be simple, but it does not always get the timing right. Fortunately captions can be fine-tuned on the timeline.

  1. Begin by increasing the magnification of the timeline. Click on the Magnifier icon with the plus sign inside (Fig. 2, No. 6) or drag the magnification slider to the right:
    Figure 13

    Figure 13:  Zoom in on the timeline

  2. Position the cursor over the beginning or end (the left or right edge) of a caption, indicated by the caption bubble on the timeline (Fig. 2, No 7). The cursor will change from a hand to a horizontal double arrow:
    Figure 14

    Figure 14:  Adjust timing of captions

  3. Click and drag the left edge of the caption to change its start time, or the right edge to change its end time.
  4. Click the Rewind and Play buttons to view changes in the Preview window as you work (Fig. 2, Nos. 8 & 9):
    Figure 15

    Figure 15:  Preview controls

Save the captioned video

The last step is to save your newly captioned video.

  1. Click on the “Produce and share” button (Fig. 2, No. 10):
    Figure 16

    Figure 16:  Save video using “Produce and Share”

  2. Identify the format or “aspect ratio” of the video. In most cases the format will be either TV (the squarish proportions of older television sets) or Widescreen. If the video is in the TV format, select one of the MP4 presets for TV. If it’s in the widescreen format, select one of the Widescreen presets.
    Figure 17

    Figure 17:  Select video aspect ratio

  3. Camtasia will ask you to name the new video file and select a location where it will be saved.
  4. Uncheck the "Organize produced files into sub-folders" checkbox:
    Figure 18

    Figure 18:  Uncheck “subfolder” option

  5. Click the Finish button to save the captioned video.

Next steps

Congratulations! Your video should now be saved, with captions, in the MP4 format. You can use the video in a variety of ways: view it directly in a media player, post it on the Web, or embed it in a PowerPoint presentation.

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Adding Captions in Camtasia Studio
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