How to Do Good Subtitles: the Golden Rules Guidelines

You want to know the right way to make good subtitles and increase the accessibility of your video ? Here is what you're looking for

November 13, 2020

As you probably know, adding captions to your videos is decisive for content accessibility

If done properly, adding subtitles guarantees your videos to be watched to 90% to completion, compared to 66% of the average video. Scaled to a larger amount, that’s a huge gain!

However, doing subtitles is more complicated than it seems. Transcribing, synchronizing, and translating many audio sequences is particularly difficult, and must comply with very specific standards.

At Checksub, we’ve been for four years closely watching how video creators work on their subtitles. Whether manually or through automatic software, we’ll show you here the “best practice” to do good subtitles 🙂 .

How to transcribe your video correctly?

One of the most common questions about captions is to know how to do good transcriptions, from speech to text. In fact, it not only requires good listening comprehension, but also a precise method to process. Here we will detail it step by step.

How to create a subtitle file

You may already know that, but if you don’t use an automatic subtitling solution, you need first to create a subtitle file (SRT, Web VTT) that fits some basic formatting.

Here is a reminder of the temporal and textual codes of the SRT format that is supported by almost all types of video platforms:

What you should remember about this structure is the importance of choosing the right time sequences and synchronizing them correctly with the video. This involves knowing some specific rules.

The golden rules of transcription

There are many recommendations given by official institutions such as the BBC or Channel 4 regarding word-for-word transcription. Following our own experience, here’s what you need to know:

Handling audio and video synchronization

Knowing how to synchronize each word sequence with the speech is perhaps the greatest difficulty. Inspired by the workflow of professional subtitlers, here is a method to achieve it efficiently:

Subtitle translations: some advice

Although often outsourced to machine translations or to professionals services, subtitle translation is an art that requires a great deal of rigor. Here is what you need to remember when translating into any language and for any nationality:

How do you customize subtitles properly?

Often neglected, positioning, size, color, font and layout are not useless details. On the contrary, they largely define the legibility and clarity of your subtitles. To choose the right settings, here are some important tips:

How to choose between encoded subtitles and open captions?

When you have made your subtitle file, you may wonder how to add your subtitles to your video. Many platforms give you the opportunity to add your subtitle file as a closed caption (CC) afterwards. But there is also the possibility to burn subtitles with specific parameters into your video. It all depends on your objective:

Automatic subtitling: save time with simple solutions

As you can see, making good subtitles is a complex and thorough task. No wonder many companies outsource this process to dedicated and experienced agencies and professionals.

However, in recent years, some fascinating automatic subtitling software has emerged on the market. With technologies such as enhanced speech recognition and translation engine, an ergonomic subtitle editor, and collaborative tools, they save you an enormous amount of time on your video production. Their unique features guarantee you a superior result compared to default solutions like YouTube.

Here we present you the added value of our automatic subtitle solution for video creators

We have been working for 4 years on an automatic subtitling solution that brings video creators together. Over time, we provide now a tool that saves them time in all aspects of their work:

The process is simple:

Up to you to know what will help you the most in your subtitling project. We wish good luck! 😉

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