Following are the guidelines our audiovisual linguists follow unless you provide alternative instructions. Our guidelines ensure your content meets accessibility targets and is acceptable to most online streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video and more. Unless otherwise specified, they apply to all subtitles in any language and all subtitle formats.
Each subtitle will display on-screen for a
- minimum of 1 second
- maximum of 6 seconds
2. Line Formatting
The most common subtitling style is option 1 or 2, using two lines of subtitles.
- Roman languages: Two lines of subtitles = 36-42 characters per line
- Asian Languages: Two lines of subtitles = 15-20 characters per line
- Cyrillic languages: Two lines of subtitles = 36-42 characters per line
We may have to exceed the character line limits depending on content and translation.
All subtitles are centre-justified and placed at the bottom area of the screen by default. We may move the subtitles to the top of the screen to avoid on-screen text such as lower thirds.
Rarely in cases with lots of on-screen text or graphics, such as in webinars or presentations, we may have to move the subtitles to the left or right of the screen. Our translators will use their best judgement to ensure an optimum viewer experience.
Note if subtitle placement has to be altered more than a few times in one piece of content, some additional engineering time may be required.
4. Open Caption (burnt-in) default styling
Unless a custom style is requested, the default style for burnt-in open captions is Style Option 2:
- Arial font
- 40–60px size (resolution dependant)
- black box set to 80% opacity
All translators will work from approved source language transcriptions to retain the same subtitling formatting unless language expansion makes it necessary to combine or divide subtitles.
6. On-Screen Text
We will subtitle on-screen text using all-caps inside square brackets, e.g.
7. Sound effects, songs and music
Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) may include subtitles to describe significant sounds. This isn't standard for open captions/subtitles, so if you require it, please let us know. It's more common to include sound descriptions in closed captioning.
We write sound descriptions as lower-case text inside circle brackets, e.g.
Subtitles for songs or music are placed inside the ♫ character, e.g.
♫ Happy Birthday to you! ♫
8. Multiple speakers
For deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers - speaker changes are made clearer by putting the name inside square brackets, e.g.
[Tom] Let's Make it!
If there is more than one speaker in the same subtitle, we label the speakers using a dash, e.g.
-[Tom] What a buzz!