Portuguese Timed Text Style Guide

*This document covers the language specific requirements for Portuguese. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements Section for comprehensive guidelines surrounding Timed Text deliveries to Netflix. 

1. Abbreviations

  • Doutor/Doutora: Dr./Dra.
  • Metric system abbreviations do not allow for periods or plurals: 1 km, 6 km (never 6 kms.), 1h, 5 h (never 5 hs.); there is always a space between the number and the abbreviation or symbol (6 km, 5 ºC, 14 %)
  • Ordinal numbers may be abbreviated only when followed by a noun. (Correct: Ela foi a 1ª pessoa a chegar. Incorrect: Ela foi a 1ª a chegar.)
  • Presidente: Pres.
  • Professor/Professora: Prof.
  • Século: Séc. (Séc. XX)
  • Senhor/Senhora: Sr./Sra.
  • Universidade: Univ. (must be followed by the name of the university: da Califórnia. Never use alone.)

2. Acronyms

  • Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: BBC, CIA, EUA, RU

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., Santa Claus).

5. Continuity

  • Do not use ellipses (3 dots) or dashes when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles.

Subtitle 1   Três anos não foi tempo suficiente

Subtitle 2   para aprender tudo.

  • Use an ellipsis to indicate a pause or an abrupt interruption. In the case of a pause, if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1   Se eu soubesse...

Subtitle 2   ... não te teria telefonado.

Subtitle 1   - Eu ia dizer-te que...

Subtitle 2   - Não quero saber!

  • Use an ellipsis with a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence.

... assinaram um acordo.

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   Eu trabalhei neste filme…

Subtitle 2 (FN)       REALIZADOR

Subtitle 3   … só durante seis meses.

7. Dual Speakers

  • Use a hyphen followed by a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle, with a maximum of one speaker per line.

- Boa sorte.

- Obrigado. 

  • Use a hyphen followed by a space to indicate the second speaker only, if the line of dialogue spoken by the first speaker carries over from the previous subtitle. 

Subtitle 1   Pensa que o meu chefe teve algo a ver 

Subtitle 2   com a miúda desaparecida?

                  - Desliga.

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 the screen
  • Font color: White

9. Forced Narratives

  • 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 (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.
  • When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, use an ellipsis 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         Acho que não deveríamos…


Subtitle 3         … prosseguir.

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: um, dois, três, 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.
  • Convert to the metric system: kilometers (km), centimeters (cm), meters (m), kilograms (kg).
  • For numbers up to 4 digits, do not add a space to separate the thousands. (Correct: 1234. Incorrect: 1 234)
  • For numbers 5 digits and up, add a space between thousands and hundreds. (Correct: 12 345. Incorrect: 12345)
  • Use a space instead of a period for thousands. (Correct: 123 456. Incorrect: 456)
  • Do not omit the 0 when noting fractions. (Correct: 0,123. Incorrect: ,123)
  • Use a comma (,) as decimal separator.


  • Double quotation marks (" ") without spaces.

Ele disse-me: "Volta amanhã."

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

"O Charlie disse: 'Está tudo bem'." 

  • Quotes should be used only at the start and at the end of a sentence, not at the start of every subtitle.
  • When only a portion of a sentence is in quotes, the punctuation comes after the quotation mark. 

Quem se lembra ainda do "nada a declarar"?

  • When a whole sentence is in quotes, the punctuation mark comes before the quotation mark.

Todos garantiram: "Iremos até o fim."

"Viva Portugal!" Já ouvimos isto antes.

14. Reading Speed

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

15. 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.

16. 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 ellipses 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.

17. 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 the original language.

18. 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.
  • Do not translate interjections that a Portuguese audience would understand (e.g., hey, wow, e) when used in isolation.
  • Both language styles (i.e., educated norm and colloquial style) are acceptable, as long as they are appropriate to the nature of the program. For instance, a series such as Orange Is The New Black calls for the use of colloquial style, whereas as series such as Marco Polo should be subtitled using the educated norm.
  • Always follow the spelling rules and regulations outlined in the new Portuguese agreement, Accordo Ortográfico de 1990 (AO90).

19. Reference

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

  • Infopedia Portuguese dictionary (both with and without AO90):




Change Log:


Revised section 16 Songs – 5th bullet point revised
Revised section 17 Titles – 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added




Was this article helpful?
97 out of 97 found this helpful