How to start an ELAN project

How to start an ELAN project


This video describes how to start a new project using ELAN software.

About Elan

ELAN is free, open source software which allows you to add text notes (annotations) to video or audio recordings. We use ELAN as a tool which helps us to describe what is happening in a recording.

When we create quality audio and video recordings, we get a great record of a language being used - but we don’t have a way to easily access the language for people who don’t speak it. ELAN gives us a chance to write down what is happening in the recording, through the annotations, and can make these recordings more accessible.

The annotations can be in different forms, depending on your goals. You can write down sentences, individual words, or glosses (breaking the words up into smaller parts). You can translate what is being said into a different language, write comments on what is happening in the video, or describe other non-verbal things like gestures or body language. What you choose to write is up to you: in the end, it will add more information to your recording, which makes it a richer and more useful resource, for either yourself, or for people who work on the language in the future.

You can then use these annotations for different purposes: you can search through them for specific words; export the text to be used in different programs or as subtitles; print the annotations; or simply review them in ELAN. The annotations are also time-aligned, which means that each annotation will have a record of where it occurs in the recording, so you can then listen to the relevant part of the recording.

This video series leads the viewer through ELAN - from downloading and installing the software (onto a PC), putting your recordings into the right file formats (.wav files allow you to visualise the sound recording), to creating your own transcription and then exporting it for different uses. If you have a request for a video, please email suggestions to

ELAN is produced by Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Language Archive, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. For more information on ELAN and for further help on how to use it, as well as the links for downloading, please visit The Language Archive ELAN web page.