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Are Your Annotations Distracting Your Viewers?

How annoying is it when you are on the internet and your computer starts allowing pop-ups on your screen? I’ll tell you, REALLY ANNOYING. As someone who had a virus on their computer for months, I hate when I have to constantly close screens just so I can read or watch what I need to. After I finally got around to fixing my virus I remembered that pop-up free Internet surfing is much less stressful. So Youtubers, why am I babbling about pop-ups, viruses and clear screen vision? I will tell you, because no one likes to be watching a Youtube video and have annotations popping up distracting them from the video they thought they wanted to watch.

Understanding Annotations

Everyone uses annotations and call-to-actions in their videos, and if you don’t you should.  They are a great way to reinforce information or to make it easy to direct your viewers to subscribe or visit your next video. They are also eye catching and easy to use. They are a great resource that you should absolutely be utilizing if you currently do not.


With all of that power comes great responsibility, I know Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said that but superhero lessons can translate to the life of a Youtuber too. Annotations are a great resource but you must use them carefully and thoughtfully. You do not want them to be in the way of something more important in your video. You want them to add to your video, not distract from it.

Think about framework

When you put an annotation in your video think about the framing of your video. Where are you, where are your highlighted objects, how can an annotation fit properly among all these other things. You don’t want to block yourself or important objects in your shot, but an annotation is important and you don’t want it to be camouflaged in the background. You want to make it POP without distracting the audience from what’s most important, you.


So now your thinking, “how am I ever going to find a spot where an annotation looks good enough to make my viewers want to click on it but not too good so that it distracts from the content of my video?” Well, lucky for you there are simple things you can remember when deciding proper placement for an annotation.

Areas Your Annotation May Be Blocked

You must think about how your viewers watch your videos. Are they using desktops, tablets, or their phones. In todays day you must assume that your viewers are watching on all devices. When you place annotations you should consider the different features of all those devises. The bottom third of the frame will get blocked from ad overlay online. On a mobile device the progress bar appears in the lower third, which will cover any content that you put there. The upper right is another place that is not great to put an annotation because of mobile devices. The menu features come down in the upper right of the video which will again, block content that you have there. Now remember that Youtube features have changed many times in the past and will probably change in the future. Just make sure that you are aware of the the changes and you are mindful of them when you create an annotation.


It is a good rule never to place anything in the middle of your frame. The middle of the screen is where you should be, not a text box, or a clickable pop-up. If it is not the main focus of your video then it should not be in the middle of the frame. It is very distracting for your viewers to see something in the middle of the frame. It gives the impression that their view is being blocked. It would be similar to a really tall person is sitting in front of you at a play. You have to move side-to-side to get a better view of the stage. You definitely don’t want your audience to feel as though they are trying to see around something to properly see you and your content.

How To Best Place An Annotation

The safest place to put an annotation is in the upper left or upper center of your frame. There is nothing in those areas that will block content, and they are also eye capturing. Putting something in the corner will easily draw the eyes of your viewers. The eye naturally scans the frame from left to right and starting from the top moving down. It is smart and safe to put something in the upper left. You can be almost positive that it will not be missed. The center is also great, especially when you just want to put a few words or a short sentence. If it is a big image or a lot of words it will run down the frame and awkwardly creep into the center. That will look weird and unpleasing to the eye. The top center is a place that probably won’t be overlooked, just make sure if you put something there it isn’t too big.


Use annotations, but use them wisely. If you are reading this and you’re remembering a past video where you may have made mistakes, don’t worry. It’s never too late. You can always go back and fix your old videos. You should always be working to make your channel the strongest collection of videos possible.


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