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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tips for Better Subtitling

Tips for Better Subtitling

Many of you might have observed that even though the translation in subtitles is quite good you often have great difficulty in reading through it and following the plot of what you are viewing. This is because the person placing the subtitles has just put them in without giving any consideration to certain important aspects of subtitling.

While burning subtitles after a translation, it is important to keep in mind a few things in mind such that it becomes easy for the viewer to read the subtitles easily and follow what is being conveyed. The translation should be concise and apt and communicate what needs to be understood as simple as possible.

For easy reading it is important not to place too many characters in a line while subtitling. Also, it is important to bear in mind the average speed at which the viewers can read through the subtitles, yet it should match the speed at which things are transpiring on the screen.

As grammar is important to any translation, proper division of the lines is necessary for subtitling. This enables the viewer to read through the subtitles with ease and yet can see what is happening on the screen. If proper division of lines is not maintained, it will just end up like a jumble of sentences causing undue confusion to the viewer.

If the entire text cannot be placed in one line, then the division of lines has to be performed. The best way to divide lines is after a punctuation mark and prior to conjunctions (and, because, or, etc) and prepositions (for, in, on, etc). A few other things to remember is not to break down names, abbreviations, numbers, phrases, etc that will make it difficult for the viewer to understand what is being conveyed.

The best method to follow while subtitling is to think of whether the target audience will be able to read through your subtitles in the manner in which they are appearing along with following the events on screen.


Anonymous said...


I am looking for the most practical way and place to translate from english or french to arabic. Do you know a free and easy website that could help me benefit from jobs that fit my profile? I have 4 years experience in translating medical expertises from french to arabic (for a generalist and ophtalmologist) Can you help?

I like translating, and I'd find myself doing it anyway, I translated a lot from english to french, but now I'd like to make some $$, and have fun in the process : )

French and arabic are my strong points. I can handle the translation of your articles to French or Arabic if you wish : ) But I didn't find how to contact you, so I'll be waiting just here in your blog, lol.