Podcast Chapters: Explained

Podcast chapters

You may have seen that some podcasts, especially those with a tech focus, feature chapters.

Chapters are clickable points, usually in the show notes, that let you jump to a predetermined time in the episode. They’re added in by the show to provide time stamped reference to a specific point in the episode.

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Why should I add chapters to my episodes?

For listeners, chapters are a great way to see what is in the episode in more detail and at a glance.

For example, you might want to listen to just one section of a conversation instead of the full hour and a half episode. Again, tech podcasts have done this really well. Here’s an example from Accidental Tech Podcast that shows how chapters can be used.

As you can see the time stamps for topics of conversation and sponsor messages have been made into clickable links. What’s more is that, in Overcast, each chapter is skippable and has its own progress bar that you can see just above the pause button. This saves listeners from dragging the time scrubber to find a section of the episode.

How do I add chapters to my podcast episodes?

There are plenty of tools available for creating chapter markers for a podcast episode.

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It’s worth keeping in mind that not every single podcast app shows chapters in the same way. James Cridland at Podnews has done some research into how chapters show up in different players that might be of interest for some further reading on the subject.

The key takeaway from his post is that only a small number of podcast apps display chapters of mp3 files and for them to show up in Apple Podcasts the episode file needs to be an m4a format file. 

Ultimately it’s up to you if you want to take the time to create chapters for your listeners. If they’re asking for chapters, maybe take that into consideration when creating an episode. Otherwise it might be extra work without much gain for your podcast.