Vietnamese Timed Text Style Guide

1. Acronyms

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

2. Character Limit

  • 42 characters per line.

3. 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.

4. Continuity

  • Do not use ellipsis when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles. 
  • Use ellipsis to indicate pauses:

                                            Nói ta nghe…tại sao Azog
                                            lại săn đuổi ngươi?

  • Use ellipsis without a space at the end of the first subtitle when there is a pause between a sentence running over two subtitles.

                           Subtitle 1 Con đường…
                           Subtitle 2 nó biến mất rồi!

  • Use ellipsis without a space to indicate mid-sentence pick-ups:

                          Subtitle 1 - Tôi đề nghị...
                                         - Các ông không được đi đâu cả.
                          Subtitle 2 ...chúng ta đi thôi.

5. Documentary

  • 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.

6. Dual Speakers

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

                        - Xin chào thanh tra.
                        - Chào cô hiệu trưởng.

7. Font information

  • Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportional SansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 42 characters across the screen 
  • Font color: White

8. 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 (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 Forced Narratives with dialogue subtitles.
  • If at all possible, try to avoid interrupting a line of dialogue with a forced narrative.
  • When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, use an ellipsis at the end of the sentence that precedes it and at the beginning of the one that follows it.

9. 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).

10. 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.

11. Line Treatment

  • Maximum two lines.

12. Numbers

  • From 1 to 10, numbers should be written out: một, hai, ba, 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 if line length and/or reading speed are a factor.
  • Spell out numbers when used in a methaphorical context:

Cô ấy có cả trăm lý do.

  • For decimals, please use commas:

     English: 2.5 million people
     Vietnamese: 2,5 triệu người

  • For thousands, please use periods:

         English: 1,000 dongs
         Vietnamese: 1.000 đồng

         Note: This rule does not apply to version numbers.
         English: I told you, upgrade it to iOS 5.1.1!
         Vietnamese: Tôi bảo anh rồi, nâng cấp lên iOS 5.1.1 đi!

  • For sports, competitions, games or quizzes, always use numerals to display points, scores or timings.


13. Quotes

  • Double straight quotation marks ("") without spaces. 
  • Single straight quotation marks ('') for quotes within quotes: Quotes should be used at the start and end of a sentence and not at the start of every subtitle. 
  • Closing quotes should follow the period/full stop: “Jack.”

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.

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.

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

  • All plot pertinent dialogue should be subtitled, and takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • Dialogue (including expletives) should be rendered as faithfully as possible, without using dialect or words that would otherwise introduce a level of obscenity not implied in the content.
  • Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot pertinent.

19. Speaker ID / Sound Effects for SDH versions

  • Use brackets [ ] to enclose speaker IDs or sound effects. 
  • 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

 

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