The importance of subtitle translation

In my regular project management, we will provide subtitle translation service, it looks easy, but indeed has something inside which you should pay more attention to.

Characters per row: this is extremely important for subtitle translation, if there is no limitation for this, your words will be reached out the screen, which will lead to content loss issue.

In general, for Vietnam subtitle, the maximum Characters per row is 42, for Chinese subtitle, the maximum Characters per row is…we should change a way to say this since Chinese is different from other language, for Chinese, the length per row could not be longer than the timeline.

CPS: cps is short for count per second or Characters per Second, If your client wants you to make the subtitles 14 cps, it means that the reading speed per second should be 14 Characters, this is another limitation when doing subtitle translation, you need to apply your translation due to the time length for each timeline, for example, under 2 second timeline, your translation must be less than 28 characters, in this case, if your translation is too long, you should change your translation, rewrite or transcreation.

For Vietnam, the usually CPS is 14, for Romanians, the normally CPS is 12, etc.

The world’s most popular and easy portable subtitle format is SubRip (.srt), which is freat compatible with subtitle reproduction media. files can be opened by Windows Notepad, Microsoft Word or any other text processor. So you can definitely import srt file into any CAT TOOLS for localization.

Read Also: How to use Wordfast to edit translation

The format of subrip is as follows:


00:00:08,949 –> 00:00:10,129

Previously in Being Erica


00:00:10,964 –> 00:00:12,020

It’s over, Erica…


00:00:12,155 –> 00:00:16,113

Let just try out for another time, please…

It’s important that during translation the timelines and numbers (3/00:00:12,155 –> 00:00:16,113) remain exactly the same as they are in the original (but if you have the video source and know how to do with the timeline, you are allowed to modify the timeline and numbers according to your transaltion).

Changing them will lead to some corruptions within the subtitles, which is why we should use QA tool to check if we have destroy the rules in the end of translation.

When running the QA, the translator is going to be notified whether any number was changed or eliminated by accident, this is a very important process in managing subtitle translation project, it shouldn’t be an optional step, it is an essential one.

This manner of translating subtitle files is simple, creative, actually, it’s a new step of recreation.