Everything You Need to Know about Subtitling


With the amount of time people spend watching videos growing exponentially, subtitles are increasing in importance to viewers. Subtitles are typically used as a means of providing translated text of the video’s dialogue for viewers who do not understand the video’s language, but they are becoming mainstream for viewers who speak the language fluently. As such, subtitles are a vital component to successful videos.

The Importance of Subtitles

One of the primary reasons that subtitles are essential is that they attract international viewers. Without subtitles, many people would not even find the video when they conduct a query, and they likely will not continue to watch the video if they do not understand the language.

Additionally, subtitles are a necessary part of building search engine optimization (SEO). Subtitles provide an additional means for search engines to read a video, which helps it attain a better ranking based on particular keywords. While a search engine is not capable of viewing a video, it can recognize text that is associated with it, including the words in a subtitle. A subtitle translation agency can ensure that the video’s subtitles are fully using SEO to generate more interest in the videos.

Common Issues with Subtitle Translation

For subtitles to be useful, they have to be accurate, engaging, and appealing to viewers. Here are some of the issues that can occur with subtitles, causing them to lose their effectiveness:

  • Translating just words, instead of meanings. One of the key issues in translation is focusing only the literal translation, instead of also concentrating on the context and the meaning of the text. This is especially important with subtitles since the viewer is relying on the text to help them understand the content of the video. If the meaning of the dialogue is not accurately portrayed, the message of the video will be lost. To avoid this issue, work with a translation company that has native speakers available to translate video subtitles.
  • Using incorrect punctuation. Correct punctuation might sound like a small issue, but it is actually quite significant. Since the subtitles are the only way that the video can fully represent the dialogue, an exclamation point or a question mark can help convey the correct meaning and feeling behind what is being said.
  • Not making text legible. Ensuring that the text is thoroughly readable by viewers is vital to the success of the subtitles. The text has to be the right size, as well as in a color that is not distracting. Therefore, trying to get too creative with the appearance of the text can backfire. In addition, it is also necessary to take into consideration that people will be watching videos on screens of varying sizes.
  • Having timing that is off. One of the main errors in subtitling occurs when characters’ dialogue is not aligned properly with the subtitles. To avoid making a timing mistake, each subtitle has to be reviewed and compared to the audio to ensure that each frame is correctly timed. Subtitle translation companies will have the right equipment and applications to make certain that the timing is precise on videos.
  • Opting for machine translation. Since machines are not capable of identifying idioms and other cultural elements, human translation is necessary for a successful subtitling project.

Ways to Translate Dialogue

There are different methods that are used so that viewers can easily follow along with what is being said in videos, regardless of the language spoken in the video. These techniques are:

  • Subtitles, which are lines of translated text that come up on the screen as a video plays; they are essential for viewers who are watching a video in another language.
  • Closed captions, which were originally developed for people who could not hear, so they could watch videos and understand the dialogue. Now, many viewers simply like reading captions in order to gain some context about the content. In addition, captions give viewers a way to watch the videos in quiet locations, such as an office or library. Closed caption translation services can make certain that the translation is accurate and reflects the original content.
  • Dubbing, which is a complex process that involves recording new audio content, then replacing it with the original audio files. Dubbing is challenging since precise syncing is critical for it to be effective. Because of the difficulty level, businesses that are interested in dubbing should contract with a video subtitling services company that specializes in video translation.

The Squid Game Debate

Interestingly, the Netflix television show Squid Game has brought attention to the differences in the three above categories, with professionals and viewers weighing in on their preferences. Viewers of the show can choose to watch the dubbed version or read subtitles or closed captions. One of the issues in the debate is that if viewers choose to watch with English closed captioning, which is typically the option that is automatically highlighted, then they are reading a transcript of the dubbed version of the show. However, the subtitles are more of a direct translation of the show, meaning it is more accurate.

As streaming services and other businesses release videos geared toward global markets, precise subtitling is imperative. Reach out to a subtitling translation services agency to achieve the best results with video subtitling.


With the amount of time people spend watching videos growing exponentially, subtitles are increasing in importance to viewers. Take a look at what makes subtitling important and how to avoid some common subtitling errors.

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