What makes good subtitles stand out?

Good subtitles are characterized by the fact that we barely notice them. To achieve this, there are a few rules to follow. In this blog, you will learn the most important things about successful subtitling. 

What are subtitles for? 

Subtitles are primarily used to provide films and videos in different languages and to make the content accessible to the hearing impaired. Subtitling is the most cost-effective solution for translating foreign language films — dubbing is usually more expensive. Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) removes barriers and allows access to audiovisual media. In addition to language content, they also describe ambient sounds (e.g. * quiet music*). 

Characteristics of good subtitles 

Viewers read subtitles while watching the film or video. However, the reading speed is slower than the listening speed. Viewers also need time to process image and sound at the same time. For these reasons, there are rules for subtitling: 

  • To the point: Subtitles reflect what has been said. If they deviate too much from what has been said, it creates confusion. 
  • Clarity and readability: Subtitles are written in easy-to-understand language. Within a given subtitle, a sentence must be complete. Complicated sentences are to be avoided. Subtitles are ideally white with a black outline. 
  • Start and end: Subtitles start as soon as someone speaks. They end when no one speaks anymore.  
  • Subtitle display time: Subtitles only contain as many words as viewers can read. A subtitle can be seen for at least one second and a maximum of seven seconds.   
  • Structure: 1-2 lines per subtitle.  

Subtitles are becoming increasingly popular! 

More and more often, people watch videos on their smartphones while on the move. If you can’t play sound, you can still understand the content thanks to subtitles.  

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