Dutch Timed Text Style Guide

1. Abbreviations

  • Meneer: Mr
  • Mevrouw: Mrs
  • Juffrouw: Miss
  • Professor: prof.
  • Doctor: dr.

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., Santa Claus).

5. Continuity

  • Use ellipses (3 dots) without spaces at the end and at the beginning of subtitles when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles.

Subtitle 1   In Nederland gebruiken we puntjes…

Subtitle 2   ...als de ondertitel wordt gesplitst.

  • Also use ellipses to indicate pauses or abrupt interruptions.

Dat is vreemd…

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

…op hun eigen unieke manier. 

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         Ik heb zes jaar…

Subtitle 2 (FN)  REGISSEUR

Subtitle 3         …aan deze film gewerkt.

7. Dual Speakers

  • If two characters speak in one subtitle, use a hyphen without a space to denote the second speaker only. There should never be more than one speaker per line.

Wanneer kom je aan?

-Vandaag!

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 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 and for foreign dialogue. 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.
  • 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         Ik denk niet…

Subtitle 2 (FN) VERBODEN TOEGANG

Subtitle 3         …dat we verder moeten gaan.

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)
    • Song lyrics (if rights have been granted.
  • Do not italicize the following:
    • Electronic media, such as a phone, television, or computer
    • Off-screen speech
    • Voice-overs
  • Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words

12. Numbers

  • From 1 to 10, numbers should be written out: één, twee, drie, 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). 

13. Punctuation

  • There should be no spaces before punctuation marks.
  • Use an uppercase letter after a colon for quotes only; all other instances do not require an uppercase letter.

...en hij zei: 'Dit gaat goed.'     BUT   ...en je denkt: dit gaat goed.

  • Thoughts, however, are never followed by an uppercase letter or quotation marks.

…en je denkt: dit gaat goed.

14. Quotes

  • Use single quotation marks (' ') without spaces for regular quotations.

Hij zei: ‘Kom morgen maar terug.’

  • Double quotation marks (" ") for quotes within quotes.

'Charlie zei het: "Alles is in orde."' 

  • The period at the end of a sentence always comes before the closing quotes.

Hij zei: 'Dit gaat goed.'

  • Quotes should be used only at the start and at the end of a quotation, not at the start of every subtitle.
  • 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 a lowercase letter at the beginning of each line, unless the first word is a proper noun.
  • 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 the 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.
  • In order to better meet the expectations of a Dutch 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.
  • Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot pertinent.
  • Avoid using Anglicisms, but do not translate English words that have become part of regular usage in Dutch. For instance, bucket list is not a loodjeslijst. It should be kept in English. 

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 9 Forced Narratives – 3rd bullet point revised
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 – 4th bullet point removed

 

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