Subtitling Tips

As you translate and transcribe talks, here are some things to keep in mind.

Subtitling is a unique skill set: volunteers must accurately convey meaning, despite time and space constraints.

To ensure viewers can read your subtitles with ease, stick to these guidelines:

  • When a subtitle is longer than 42 characters, break it into two lines.
  • Never use more than two lines per subtitle.
  • Keep broken lines as close in length as possible.
  • Keep 'linguistic wholes' together when breaking lines.
  • Keep the subtitle reading speed at a maximum of 21 characters / second.
  • Compress subtitles over 21 characters / second. Try to preserve as much meaning as possible.

The following guides elaborate on the rules and techniques mentioned above:

Refer to this “Quick Tips” list as you’re subtitling to remind yourself of these points

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TED Translators can use these resources to learn about our platform, subtitling best practices and more.