Adding quality captioning and subtitling to your videos can have a significant impact on your company’s visibility in search engines, as well as having the potential to extend your brand to global audiences. If you’ve decided to take the next steps towards achieving optimum accessibility, here are some of our key tips to help you on your way.
1. Make sure your captioning and subtitling are legible
There are three key technical aspects of quality captioning and subtitling that any content producer must consider when subtitling their work:
- Number of lines: general subtitling practice dictates that the number of lines in any subtitles should be limited to two. This is to guarantee that no more than 1/6 of the screen is covered by subtitles at any time. The exception to this rule allows for a third line to be included when highlighting important aesthetics within the video such as sound effects and background music. Wherever two lines of unequal length are used, the upper line should ideally be shorter in order to keep as much of the image uncovered as possible.
- Position on the screen: typically, subtitled text should be centred on its allocated line at the lower part of the screen. This is to ensure that the subtitles cover an area on the screen that is deemed of lesser importance to the general aesthetic of the target video. Subtitles can be positioned towards the upper part of the screen when visual materials such as credits appear.
- Font: subtitles should be easy to read and as a result, it’s better to use a font with no serifs (Sans Serif). This is to allow for increased legibility of the subtitled text. Typefaces such as Arial, Antique Olive and Helvetica are widely used in the industry and are easy to download from the internet from such sites as Dafont and Font Squirrel.
2. Consistency is key!
Have you ever watched a film with subtitles and realised that the text doesn’t quite match up to the dialogue? Consistency is an important part of subtitling and language register must be both appropriate and consistent with the spoken word. This is also true with the grammar within your subtitles. Language should be grammatically accurate because subtitles act as a model for literacy. In addition to this, there must be consistency between various series and previous episodes that your company may produce. This includes making sure your subtitles are positioned in the correct places on screen and use the same font.
3. Omit repetitive or irrelevant dialogue
It is generally advised to avoid omissions in order to make sure there is a close correlation between the spoken dialogue and the written content. However, this isn’t always the case and in some circumstances, it is recommended to omit repetitive or irrelevant dialogue. For instance, if viewers are comfortable with recognising certain characters, names are often no longer needed within the subtitles. Similarly, hesitations – ‘er’, ‘erm’ or ‘like’ – can also be ignored as they can sometimes cause confusion for the viewer.
4. Use italics correctly
One of the cardinal sins of any written content is the misuse of italics. In subtitled text, the typeface can be used in several instances such as indicating an off-screen source of spoken text (e.g. when there is a voice speaking over the phone from the other end or from a TV), as well as emphasising foreign language words that are kept in their original form (i.e. “She has an air of je ne sais quoi“).
5. Use professional subtitling companies
These are just a few examples of the guidelines that should be adhered to when producing subtitles and captions for your videos. To make things easier for you and your company, why not engage with a professional company with the expertise to produce high quality subtitles? Companies such as Glocal Media have a dedicated team of translators and project managers on hand to cater to your needs, no matter what your timescale may be.