Arabic Timed Text Style Guide

1. Arabic Language Style

  • Classical Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic) should be used for translation. Please refrain from using any dialectical words. When there is no alternative to the word in Classical Arabic, use the word closest in meaning.

2. Acronyms

  • If names that are acronyms are transliterated add double quotes (e.g., “NBC”, “CIA”).

3. Character Limitation

  • 42 characters per line

4. Character Names

  • Do not translate proper names (e.g., Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
  • If no translations are provided, the names should be transliterated.
  • 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 or dashes when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles.
  • Use ellipsis to indicate pauses.
  • Use ellipsis without a space in the first subtitle when there is a pause in a sentence running over two subtitles.
  • Use ellipsis followed by no space to indicate mid-sentence pick-ups.
  • A sentence that is interrupted by a second speaker and then continues must have ellipses before and after the interruption.
  • Incomplete speech should end with ellipsis.

6. 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, do not 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.

7. Dual Speakers

  • Use a hyphen followed by a space if two characters speak in one subtitle with a maximum of one character speaking per line.

 .علينا أن نعود الى المنزل قبل غروب الشمس -                                         

لماذا؟ -                                         

8. 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 screen
  • Font color: white

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).
  • Foreign words or phrases ​should be translated when possible (i.e. hello, goodbye, thank you, merci)​ or transliterated when no accurate translation exists.

10. 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 enclosed in double quotes (“ ”), except for foreign dialogue.
  • Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle.
  • When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, do not 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.

11. Italics

  • Do not use italics.

12. Line Treatment

  • Maximum two lines.


  • Regular double quotation marks “ ” without spaces
  • Use parentheses ( ) 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 follow the period/full stop.
  • Direct speech is introduced by a colon or a comma. Either may be used, but must be used consistently throughout.
  • Comma goes outside of the quotes.
  • When a complete sentence is a quote, the period goes inside of the quotes.
  • When quoting a single word, periods go outside of quotes.
  • Use double quotes for proper names of persons and places.

14. Reading Speed

  • 20 characters per second (Adult)
  • 17 characters per second (Children’s content)

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.
  • 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.
  • Use double quotes for song lyrics and song titles.
  • Double quotes are only needed at the beginning and the end of a song, or portion of a song if interrupted by dialogue.

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, transliterate the titles.

18. Profanity Treatment

  • 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.

19. Special Instructions

  • Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • The use of Arabic diacritics (Al Harakat) should be limited to Hamza and Tanween Al Fateh. In addition, Dammah should be used when the verb is in the passive voice, i.e:

  • For further details about جزم المضارع:
  • Months of the year must follow the Gregorian calendar.
  • Percentage (%) has to be spelled out to ensure correct sentence formatting. Example: 20% should be written as:

  • Numbers must always be written numerically: 1, 6, 18, etc., even at the beginning of a sentence or for any reference to clock time.

 20. Reference

Change Log:


Revised section 9 Foreign Dialogue – 2nd bullet point revised
Revised section 10 Forced Narrative - 3rd bullet point added
Revised section 14 Reading Speed – reading speed parameter increased
Revised section 17 Titles – 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added

2015-12-07 (Version 3.3 )

Revised Section 2. Arabic: Content Requirements

Revised section 2.7 Dual Speakers – 2nd bullet point deleted

Revised section 2.10 Forced Narrative – 4th (last) bullet point revised

Revised section 2.13 Quotes – 2nd bullet point and 9th (last) bullet point revised

Revised section 2.16 Songs – 4th bullet point revised. 5th (last) bullet point added

Revised section 2.19 Special Instructions – 3rd bullet point, 5th bullet point and 7th bullet point revised. 2nd, 8th and 9th bullet points deleted.