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How to Add YouTube Annotations and Cards?

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Jun 11, 2024• Proven solutions

Update: YouTube has replaced annotation with end screen. You can find the latest informaiton about YouTube screen and YouTube cards here.

YouTube Cards and Annotations are very useful if you want to encourage your viewrs to take an action, like Subscribe, go to another video or associated website, etc. Today, we're going to show you the differences between cards and annotations, and how to add them in YouTube videos.

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The main difference between annotation and cards is their outlook. Cards are more graphical whereas annotations are text based. The cards slide in once you click the small "i" button on the video where as the annotation is there based on the timings set by the user. Moreover the main differences between the two are:

1. YouTube Cards are small and unobtrusive, unless a viewer chooses to click on them, which is why they are the better option when you are trying to get views on other videos. Irritating a few people with a big annotation might be worth it if you also draw other people’s attention to your cause or website, but it is not a good way to endear yourself to people you are trying to get views and subscriptions from. When a card is clicked a thumbnail will appear with a link to your additional content. YouTube Cards are often better than annotations for adding links to your videos because they look much tidier. Also, unlike annotations, cards will be visible to people watching your videos on their mobile devices.

2. You cannot use Cards just to insert notes into your videos, though, and you cannot adjust their size like you can with annotations. So, if you do need a link to be large and extremely noticeable, annotations might still be your best option. Cards and annotations can even be used in combination sometimes.

How to add YouTube Cards:

YouTube Cards are similar to annotations but more interactive. They allow the owner of the video to add images and other links. A small box appears, clicking on which will activate the cards.

    • Click on the "Video Manager" tab

    • Click "Edit" tab under the video screen shot you want to add the card on
    • Click on the "Cards" tab

    • On the right panel click on "Add Card" drop down menu and select the type of card you want to add
    • Click on the create button which will open the corresponding video
    • Once you finish the subsequent information required click create card
    • Select the timeline for the playhead to appear which leads to the card slide

  • Apply changes and exit

How to add YouTube annotations:

YouTube Annotation is addition of a text layer, link or hotspots over your video. They add interactive boxes which link to other websites or videos (any link you want).

    • Click on the video manager tab
    • Click edit tab under the video screen shot you want to add the annotation on
    • Click on the "End screen & Annotation" tab

    • On the right panel click on "+ Add Element" and select the kind of annotation you want to add
    • Adjust the position of Annotation, you can drag the rectangle to locate it at any position of the video, move the slide to set the start and end time of the annotation

  • Apply changes

The types of YouTube annotations:

1. Speech Bubbles

Speech Bubbles: look like the dialogue box in a comic strip. There is a tail which you can adjust so it looks like one of the people in your video is saying what is written in the annotation. Speech bubbles are great for adding in funny comments.

2. Notes

Notes: come in a limited selection of colors and can be adjusted to take up a maximum of 30% of your player screen. Sometimes you need a huge annotation to get an important point across, but using huge note annotations too often – especially near the beginnings of your videos – will annoy viewers. If you need a large note annotation make sure to place it later in your video, when a viewer will already be invested in what they are watching and less likely to click away.

3. Titles

Titles: are large pieces of text that go either at the beginning of your video or in-between different topics within your video. YouTube’s titles are not very nice to look at, but they are a decent option if you do not have access to video editing software.

4. Spotlights

Spotlights: have a subtle border and are completely clear inside. Your text only appears when a user hovers over the spotlight. Spotlights are great for turning elements within your video into links.

5. Labels

Labels: are completely transparent, like spotlights, but the user does not have to hover over them for your text to be visible.

6. Pauses

Pauses: are no longer available to add to your videos, although Pause Annotations added before they were removed still work. Pause Annotations used to stop your video for a set period of time when your annotation appeared.

If somebody watches your video and gets to the end then that means they enjoyed it and will probably be open to checking out more of your content. Rather than hoping that your other videos show up in the ‘Suggested Videos’ YouTube will show after yours has finished playing you should always include an outro, or ending card, after your video to recommend your own work. Annotations are used in a lot of successful YouTuber’s ending cards.

One form this takes is small Note annotations in the bottom corners of the screen, one linking to your previous video and one to the next. Sometimes your viewers might not necessarily get the most enjoyment out of your videos by watching them in order, though. Sometimes you want to link viewers to the videos that are most related to the one they just watched.

The best outros also include a subscribe button, which can be created using annotations. These annotations work best when combined with a verbal call to action. Make sure your outro lasts long enough for people to make the decision to subscribe or click another video.

No matter what kind of annotations you are using, you should never use more than two of them at a time anywhere except for your outro. You should also never place annotations at the very top of your screen, or in the middle at the bottom. If your video is embedding on a separate website then the player will cover annotations at the top of the screen, and ads might cover annotations placed in the bottom-middle of the screen. Keep in mind when using annotations that they will not be visible to users watching your videos on mobile devices. If mobile traffic is very important to you then consider using YouTube Cards.

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Richard Bennett
Richard Bennett is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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Richard Bennett

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