Finnish Timed Text Style Guide

1. Abbreviations

  • Herra: hra
  • Rouva: rva
  • Neiti: nti
  • Professori: prof.
  • Tohtori: tri
  • For other common abbreviations: http://www.kotus.fi

2. Acronyms

  • Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: BBC, CIA, USA, UK

3. Character Limitation

  • 42 characters per line

4. Character Names

  • Do not translate proper names (e.g., Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g., joulupukki).

5. Continuity

  • Use a hyphen when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles, unless other punctuation (such as a comma) is present.

Subtitle 1   Hän opetti minulle -

Subtitle 2   paljon mahtavia juttuja.

Subtitle 1   Odotin innolla,

Subtitle 2   että näkisin sinut taas.

  • Use ellipsis to indicate an abrupt interruption.

Subtitle 1   -Olin sanomassa...

Subtitle 2   -En halua tietää!

  • Use ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence

...säilyttäminen on totuutta tärkeämpää. 

6. Documentary

  • Speaker's title: only translate the title. Do not include the speaker's name, company name or character name as these are redundant.
  • Only translate a speaker's title once, the first time the speaker appears in the documentary.
  • When ongoing dialogue is interrupted by a speaker’s title, use ellipses at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence in the subtitle that follows it.

Subtitle 1   Tein elokuvaa…

Subtitle 2 (FN)       OHJAAJA

Subtitle 3   …puoli vuotta.

7. Dual Speakers

  • Use a hyphen without a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle, with a maximum of one character speaking per line.

-Se ei ole valmis.

-Mikä?

8. Font Information

  • Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportionalSansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 42 characters across screen
  • Font color: white

9. Forced Narrative

  • Forced narrative titles should only be included if plot pertinent.
  • Forced narratives that are redundant (e.g., identical to onscreen text or covered in the dialogue) must be deleted.
  • Forced narratives should be in ALL CAPS, except for written passages (e.g., excerpts from books, magazines or newspapers, handwritten notes, social media messages and text messages), which must match the use of uppercase/lowercase as it appears on screen. In order to improve readability, mixed case can also be used for long passages of on screen text (e.g., long written passages used as prologue or epilogue).
  • Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle.
  • If at all possible, try to avoid interrupting a line of dialogue with a forced narrative.
  • If interrupting the dialogue with a forced narrative cannot be avoided, use an ellipsis at the end of the sentence that precedes it and at the beginning of the one that follows it.

Subtitle 1         Meidän ei pitäisi…

Subtitle 2 (FN) PÄÄSY KIELLETTY

Subtitle 3         …jatkaa pidemmälle.

10. Foreign Dialogue

  • Foreign dialogue should only be translated if the viewer was meant to understand it (i.e., if it was subtitled in the original version).
  • When using foreign words, always verify spelling, accents and punctuation, if applicable.
  • Foreign words should be italicized, unless they have become part of regular usage (e.g., in English, the following no longer need to be italicized: bon appétit, rendezvous, doppelgänger, zeitgeist, persona non grata) and unless they are proper names (e.g., a company name).

11. Italics

  • Italicize the following:
    • Album, book, film and program titles (use quotes for song titles)
    • Foreign words (unless they are part of regular usage)
    • Dialogue that is heard through electronic media, such as a phone, television, or computer
    • Only use italics when the speaker is not in the scene(s), not merely off screen or off camera
    • Song lyrics (if rights have been granted)
    • Voice-overs
  • Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words

12. Numbers

  • From 1 to 10, numbers should be written out: yksi, kaksi, kolme, etc.
  • Above 10, numbers should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
  • When a number begins a sentence, it should always be spelled out.
  • Note that the above rules may be broken due to space limitations or reading speed concerns.
  • Use a space to separate thousands: 10 000 not 10,000
  • Use a comma for decimals: 1,5 not 1.5
  • Use a full stop with times: kello 7.45 not 7:45 AM
  • Convert to the metric system: kilometers (km), centimeters (cm), meters (m), kilograms (kg). 

13. Punctuation

  • Never omit punctuation when translating regular dialogue.
  • If necessary, use the following reference: http://www.kotus.fi

14. Quotes

  • Double quotation marks (" ") without spaces.

Hän sanoi: "Palaa huomenna."

  • Single quotation marks (' ') for quotes within quotes.

Hän sanoi: "'Singing in the Rain' on lempibiisini."

  • Quotation marks should only be used at the start and at the end of a quote, not at the start of every subtitle
  • Closing quotation marks always come after the period/full stop.
  • Song titles should be in quotes.

15. Reading Speed

  • Adult programs: 200 words per minute / 17 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: 160 words per minute / 13 characters per second

16. Repetitions

  • Do not translate words or phrases repeated more than once.
  • If the repeated word or phrase is said twice in a row, time subtitle to the audio, but translate only once.

17. Songs

  • Only subtitle plot-pertinent songs if the rights have been granted.
  • Italicize lyrics.
  • Use an uppercase letter at the beginning of each line.
  • Use an ellipsis when a song continues in the background but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.
  • Punctuation: only question marks and exclamation marks should be used at the end of a line – no commas or periods. Commas can be used within the lyric line, if necessary.
  • Album titles should be in italics.
  • Song titles should be in quotes.

18. Titles

  • Main titles: do not subtitle the main title unless an approved translation is provided by Netflix.
  • Episode titles: do not subtitle episode titles if they do not appear on screen. If on-screen, either as part of the principal photography or burned into video, please obtain approved translations from Netflix.
  • Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, leave titles in original language. 

19. Special Instructions

  • Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
  • Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot pertinent.
  • In order to better meet the expectations of a Finnish audience, a condensed translation style is required. Subtitles should be merged as much as possible whenever a character’s dialogue extends over several subtitles. Character names should be left out once they have been clearly established.
  • When Americans "love" or "hate" something, it is enough to "like" or "dislike" in Finnish.
  • Sir can be used without being translated, if referring to the military or the police. Alternatively, mister (herra) can be used as well. If the line of dialogue is only "yes, sir," no need to subtitle it.
  • Do not translate you literally when it is used in a general statement to mean "one" or "anybody":

If you train really hard, you will get good results

and become better over time.

Jos harjoittelet kovasti,

saat ajan myötä hyviä tuloksia ja edistyt. [incorrect]

Jos harjoittelee kovasti,

saa ajan myötä hyviä tuloksia ja edistyy. [correct]

  • There is no need to use future tense in Finnish, the simple present tense + a time expression referring to the future is enough.
  • Do not use niin to translate so when so is not followed by an adjective or an adverb, as in "I love you so". 

20. Speaker ID / Sound Effects for SDH versions

  • Use brackets [ ] to enclose speaker IDs or sound effects.
  • Use all lowercase, except for proper nouns.
  • Only use speaker IDs or sound effects when they cannot be visually identified.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music (e.g., rock music playing over a stereo).
  • Sound effects should be plot pertinent.
  • Never italicize speaker IDs or sound effects, even when the spoken information is italicized, such as in a voice-over. 

21. Reference

For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:

 



Change Log:

2016-05-15
Revised section 17 Songs – 5th bullet point revised
Revised section 18 Titles – 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added

Revised section 19 Special Instructions – 5th bullet point removed

2015-12-07
Revised section 8.5 Continuity – 1st bullet revised

 

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