How to Annotate a YouTube Video

How to Annotate a YouTube Video _ MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Are you looking for ways to make your YouTube videos more interactive and engaging?

Do you want to provide additional information, highlight key points, or create interactive elements within your videos?

Well, you’re in the right place!

In this blog post, we’ll explore the art of annotating YouTube videos and share valuable tips to help you enhance your content and captivate your audience.

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What are YouTube Annotations?

Before we dive into the details of annotating YouTube videos, let’s start with a brief explanation of what annotations actually are. Annotations are interactive elements that you can add to your YouTube videos.

They serve as a way to engage your viewers, provide additional context or information, and encourage them to take action, such as subscribing to your channel or visiting a specific website.

Annotations can take various forms, including text overlays, speech bubbles, spotlight annotations, and interactive links.

These elements can appear at specific times during your video, allowing you to guide your viewers’ attention or provide supplementary information.

How to Add Annotations to Your YouTube Videos

Adding annotations to your YouTube videos is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube account and navigate to the Creator Studio.
  2. Click on the “Video Manager” tab, which will display a list of your uploaded videos.
  3. Select the video you want to annotate by clicking on the thumbnail.
  4. Under the video, click on the “Edit” button.
  5. On the top menu, click on the “Annotations” tab.
  6. To add an annotation, click on the “Add Annotation” button.
  7. Choose the type of annotation you want to add from the available options (text, speech bubble, spotlight, or interactive link).
  8. Customize the appearance of your annotation by adjusting the text, font, color, and size.
  9. Position the annotation by dragging it to the desired location on the video timeline.
  10. Specify the duration of the annotation by adjusting the start and end times.
  11. Add any additional annotations you want to include in your video.
  12. Preview your video to see how the annotations appear and make any necessary adjustments.
  13. Once you’re satisfied with the annotations, click on the “Publish” button to save your changes.

It’s important to note that YouTube has deprecated the use of annotations for newer videos. However, you can still edit and remove existing annotations from older videos, as well as use the newer interactive features offered by YouTube, such as end screens and cards.

Best Practices for Annotating YouTube Videos

Best Practices for Annotating YouTube Videos

Now that you know how to add annotations to your YouTube videos, let’s explore some best practices to ensure that your annotations are effective and enhance the overall viewer experience:

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  1. Keep it relevant: Annotations should provide valuable information or enhance the content of your video. Avoid overusing annotations or adding them for the sake of it. Ensure that each annotation serves a purpose and adds value to the viewer’s understanding.
  2. Consider timing: Timing is crucial when it comes to annotations. Place them at appropriate moments in your video when they are most relevant or can draw attention to important points. Avoid covering up essential visuals or distracting the viewer from the main content.
  3. Use clear and concise text: When adding text annotations, keep the text clear, concise, and easy to read. Use legible fonts and appropriate font sizes to ensure that viewers can easily understand the information you’re providing.
  4. Test and preview: Before publishing your video, make sure to test and preview how the annotations appear and function. Check if they are correctly positioned, visible, and don’t interfere with the viewer’s experience. Fix any issues or make adjustments as needed.
  5. Encourage interaction: Use annotations to encourage viewer interaction by adding interactive links or calls to action. You can direct viewers to subscribe to your channel, visit your website, or watch related videos. These interactions help increase engagement and can lead to further exploration of your content.
  6. Leverage spotlight annotations: Spotlight annotations can be used to highlight specific areas of your video. This can be useful for drawing attention to important details or providing additional context. Use spotlight annotations sparingly to avoid overwhelming the viewer with too much visual information.
  7. Be mindful of mobile users: With the increasing number of viewers accessing YouTube on mobile devices, consider the visibility and usability of your annotations on smaller screens. Test your video on mobile devices to ensure that the annotations are legible and don’t obstruct the content.
  8. Analyze viewer engagement: Take advantage of YouTube’s analytics tools to measure viewer engagement with your annotations. Analyze which annotations receive the most clicks or interactions and use this data to refine your annotation strategy in future videos.
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By following these best practices, you can effectively leverage annotations to enhance the viewing experience and engage your audience on YouTube. Remember to regularly review and update your annotations as needed to keep your content fresh and relevant.


Annotations provide a powerful tool for adding interactivity and enhancing the viewer experience in your YouTube videos. By strategically placing annotations, providing valuable information, and encouraging interaction, you can create a more engaging and interactive video content.

Remember to keep your annotations relevant, clear, and concise, and be mindful of timing and the overall viewer experience. Test and preview your annotations before publishing your videos to ensure they work as intended. And finally, make use of YouTube’s analytics to measure viewer engagement and refine your annotation strategy.

So, go ahead and start exploring the world of annotations on YouTube. Unlock the potential to captivate your audience, provide valuable information, and take your video content to new heights. Happy annotating!

Certainly! Let’s continue.

Alternatives to Annotations: End Screens and Cards

Add annotation at different times in YouTube Video:

While annotations were once the go-to tool for adding interactivity to YouTube videos, the platform has introduced newer features called end screens and cards.

These features serve as alternatives to annotations and offer additional ways to engage with your viewers. Let’s explore them:

  • End Screens: End screens appear in the last 5-20 seconds of your video and can include elements such as subscribe buttons, links to other videos or playlists, and calls to action. They provide a seamless way to encourage viewers to take action after watching your video. To add end screens, navigate to the YouTube Studio, select the video you want to edit, and go to the “End screen & Annotations” tab.
  • Cards: Cards are interactive elements that can be added at any point during your video. They can include links to websites, associated merchandise, fundraising campaigns, and more. Cards are displayed as small, non-intrusive icons in the top right-hand corner of the video. To add cards, go to the YouTube Studio, select the video, and navigate to the “Cards” tab.

Both end screens and cards offer a more mobile-friendly and visually appealing alternative to annotations. They work seamlessly across various devices, including smartphones and tablets, ensuring a consistent experience for your viewers.

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Choosing between annotations, end screens, and cards depends on your specific needs and preferences. You can experiment with different combinations or use a combination of all three to maximize viewer engagement and achieve your desired goals.

Tips for Effective Use of End Screens and Cards

Here are some tips to make the most of end screens and cards on your YouTube videos:

  1. Strategic placement: For end screens, place important elements towards the beginning of the end screen to capture viewers’ attention before they potentially click away. When using cards, consider placing them at moments that are relevant to the content or when viewers may be more inclined to take action.
  2. Clear calls to action: Clearly communicate what you want viewers to do with your end screens and cards. Use concise and compelling text to guide them towards subscribing, watching another video, or visiting a website.
  3. Minimal distractions: Avoid overcrowding the screen with too many elements. Keep your end screens and cards visually appealing and unobtrusive, allowing viewers to focus on the main content while still providing options for further engagement.
  4. Regularly update and analyze: Just like annotations, it’s essential to monitor the performance of your end screens and cards using YouTube’s analytics. Analyze click-through rates and engagement data to make informed decisions about what works best for your audience. Regularly update and optimize your end screens and cards to keep them fresh and relevant.


While annotations were once a popular tool for adding interactivity to YouTube videos, the platform has evolved with the introduction of end screens and cards. These features offer more mobile-friendly and visually appealing alternatives for engaging with viewers.

Experiment with different combinations of annotations, end screens, and cards to find the best approach for your content. Keep in mind the strategic placement of these elements, provide clear calls to action, and regularly analyze their performance to optimize viewer engagement.

With the right mix of interactive elements, you can captivate your audience, encourage further exploration of your content, and create a more engaging YouTube experience. So, whether you choose annotations, end screens, cards, or a combination of these features, remember to keep your viewers’ needs and preferences in mind as you enhance your YouTube videos.

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Now it’s your turn to try out these techniques and take your YouTube videos to the next level of interactivity. Happy creating!

Monitoring and Updating Your Annotations, End Screens, and Cards

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Once you have added annotations, end screens, or cards to your YouTube videos, it’s crucial to monitor their performance and make necessary updates to ensure they continue to enhance your content. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Regularly review analytics: YouTube provides valuable analytics data that can help you understand how viewers are interacting with your annotations, end screens, and cards. Monitor metrics such as click-through rates, engagement rates, and viewer behavior to gain insights into what is working well and what may need improvement.
  2. Make data-driven adjustments: Analyzing your analytics data allows you to identify any underperforming annotations, end screens, or cards. If certain elements are not receiving clicks or engagement, consider modifying or removing them. Experiment with different variations to see what resonates best with your audience.
  3. Update outdated content: Over time, your videos may become outdated or irrelevant due to changes in information, technology, or trends. Take the opportunity to review your annotations, end screens, and cards periodically to ensure they align with the current state of your content. Remove or update any elements that are no longer accurate or useful.
  4. Test different approaches: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different annotation styles, end screen layouts, or card designs. Test variations to see which ones generate higher engagement or click-through rates. By testing and iterating, you can refine your interactive elements and optimize their effectiveness.
  5. Stay informed about platform changes: YouTube continually evolves, introducing new features and updates. Stay up to date with YouTube’s guidelines, policies, and best practices for annotations, end screens, and cards. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and adapt your interactive elements accordingly.

Engaging Viewers with Interactive Content Beyond Annotations

While annotations, end screens, and cards are powerful tools for adding interactivity to your YouTube videos, there are other ways to engage viewers and enhance their experience. Here are a few additional options to consider:

  1. Captions and subtitles: Including accurate and well-timed captions or subtitles in your videos can make your content more accessible to a wider audience. It helps viewers understand your video, especially if they have hearing impairments or speak a different language.
  2. Thumbnails and titles: Eye-catching thumbnails and compelling titles can attract viewers’ attention and entice them to click on your videos. Create visually appealing thumbnails that accurately represent your content and use titles that spark curiosity or clearly convey the value of your video.
  3. Community engagement: Foster a sense of community by actively engaging with your viewers through comments, likes, and shares. Respond to comments, ask for feedback, and encourage viewers to participate in discussions. Building a strong community around your content can lead to increased engagement and loyalty.
  4. Collaborations and shout-outs: Collaborating with other YouTubers or giving shout-outs to relevant channels can help you tap into new audiences and expand your reach. Seek opportunities to collaborate with creators who share similar interests or target the same audience to mutually benefit from cross-promotion.
  5. Interactive polls and surveys: YouTube offers features that allow you to create polls or surveys within your videos. Utilize these interactive tools to gather feedback, opinions, or preferences from your viewers. It not only engages your audience but also provides valuable insights for future content creation.

By exploring these additional avenues for interactivity, you can create a richer viewing experience, foster a sense of community, and keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.


Adding annotations, end screens, and cards to your YouTube videos can significantly enhance viewer engagement and provide valuable information. By strategically placing these interactive elements, monitoring their performance, and making data-driven adjustments, you can optimize the effectiveness of your content.

Remember to stay informed about YouTube’s guidelines and best practices, and regularly update your annotations, end screens, and cards to align with your current content and audience preferences. Don’t limit yourself to just annotations; explore other interactive options such as captions, thumbnails, community engagement, collaborations, and interactive polls to further engage your viewers.

With a combination of these interactive features and a commitment to creating valuable and engaging content, you can build a loyal and enthusiastic audience on YouTube. So, go ahead and experiment with different interactive elements and techniques, and elevate your YouTube videos to new heights!

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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