Published - September 15, 2023

Understanding YouTube VTT Subtitles Format

YouTube VTT Subtitles Format

YouTube is the world's most popular video-sharing platform, allowing users to upload and watch videos online. One of the key features of YouTube is its support for subtitles in various languages, making videos more accessible to a global audience. YouTube uses the WebVTT (Web Video Text Tracks) format for its subtitles, which allows for accurate synchronization of text with video playback.

What is VTT?

VTT is a plain text file format that contains captions or subtitles for videos. It stands for Web Video Text Tracks, and it is widely used for displaying text overlays on HTML5 videos. YouTube adopted the VTT format as it offers several advantages, such as support for multiple language subtitles, precise timing, and easy authoring and editing.

VTT Format Structure

A VTT file is organized into separate caption blocks, each containing a timestamp and the corresponding text. Here's an example of a VTT file structure:


00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:03.500
Welcome to our YouTube channel!

00:00:04.000 --> 00:00:07.000
In this video, we will explore the features of YouTube VTT subtitles.

00:00:07.500 --> 00:00:10.000
Subtitles make your videos more inclusive and accessible.

  • The first line (WEBVTT) indicates the file type.
  • Each caption block starts with a timestamp indicating the start and end time of the text display.
  • The timestamp is in the format hh:mm:ss.mmm, where hhh represents hours, mm represents minutes, ss represents seconds, and mmm represents milliseconds.
  • The timestamp is followed by a double arrow (-->) as a separator.
  • The text of the caption starts from the next line and continues until the next timestamp or the end of the file.

Formatting Text in VTT Subtitles

YouTube VTT subtitles support basic text formatting, such as italics, bold, underline, and color changes. To apply formatting to text, you can use special tags within the caption block.

  • <i>: italicizes the enclosed text.
  • <b>: makes the enclosed text bold.
  • <u>: underlines the enclosed text.
  • <c>: changes the color of the enclosed text.

Here's an example of how to use formatting tags:


00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:03.500
Welcome to our <i>YouTube channel</i>!

00:00:04.000 --> 00:00:07.000
In this video, we will explore the features of <b>YouTube VTT subtitles</b>.

00:00:07.500 --> 00:00:10.000
Subtitles make your videos more <u>inclusive</u> and <c color="red">accessible</c>.


The Importance of VTT Subtitles

VTT subtitles play a crucial role in making videos accessible to a wider audience. They allow people with hearing impairments to follow along with the video content. Additionally, subtitles are beneficial for non-native speakers or those watching videos in a noisy environment.

Using YOU-TLDR for YouTube Subtitles

If you want to interact with YouTube videos more effectively, you can try YOU-TLDR, a web application that simplifies the process of summarizing, downloading, searching, and interacting with YouTube videos in your language. Visit the YOU-TLDR website to explore its features and improve your YouTube experience.

In conclusion, understanding the YouTube VTT subtitles format is essential for creators and viewers alike. By utilizing this format, YouTube ensures accurate synchronization and accessibility of subtitles, allowing users around the world to enjoy and understand videos in their own language.

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