Simplified Chinese (PRC) Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Character Limitation

  • 16 characters per line

2. Character Names

  • If approved translations of proper names (e.g., Peter, Suzanne) are not provided, please transliterate.
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g., Santa Claus = 圣诞老人).
  • When introducing a cast member in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: John Smith – Director = (导演 约翰史密斯)
  • When introducing an actor in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: Vivien Leigh – “Scarlett O’Hara” = (费雯莉饰郝思嘉)

3. Continuity

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

Subtitle 1 她过来这里告诉我

Subtitle 2 她会回来

  • 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, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1 –但你说⋯

Subtitle 2 –我知道他说什么

Subtitle 1 –今天的天气很⋯

Subtitle 2 –她很漂亮

  • Use ellipsis to indicate mid-sentence pick-ups:


4. 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.
  • Use Chinese parentheses for on-screen text.

Subtitle 1 –我最爱海滩了 因为⋯

Subtitle 2 –(导演)

Subtitle 3 –⋯在海里游泳最好了

5. Dual Speakers

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

6. Font Information

  • Font style: SimHei as a generic placeholder for proportionalSansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 16 characters across screen
  • Font color: white

7. 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.
  • 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 follows it.
  • Use Chinese parentheses for on-screen text.

Subtitle 1 –我最爱海滩了 因为⋯

Subtitle 2 –(导演)

Subtitle 3 –⋯在海里游泳最好了

8. 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.

9. Italics

  • Do not use italics.

10. Line Treatment

  • 2-line maximum 

11. Numbers

  • Chinese numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out if space permits: 一 二 三
  • Use half width numbers (1, 2, 3) instead of full width numbers (1, 2, 3).
  • Do not use a comma to separate the thousandth digit where there are only four digits.
  • Do not use financially used characters (壹, 贰, 叁, etc) to represent rounded large numbers, use characters for common writing instead (e.g., 五千, 四十亿).
  • Use Arabic numerals for apartment numbers, street numbers, phone numbers, measurements, chapter numbers, monetary amounts, page numbers, addresses, time, flight numbers, dates.
  • Do not abbreviate years(e.g., 她1992年来过).
  • Convert to the metric system: kilometers (km), centimeters (cm), meters (m), kilograms (kg).
  • Money: Do not convert currency to RMB (e.g., $10 > 10元; £20 > 20英镑; ¢25 > 2角5分).

12. Punctuation

  • Do not use commas or periods. Use one single space instead.
  • Enumeration commas can be used for lists (e.g.  "A、B、C").
  • Question marks are required to indicate questions.
  • Only question marks or exclamation marks are allowed at the end of a line/subtitle.
  • Use a full-width colon to introduce quoted speech (e.g., 我问:“你有什么?”).
  • A colon may be used to introduce an explanation or an example (e.g., 日期:1976年8月27日)
  • Use a full-width question mark or exclamation mark when necessary.
  • Do not use:
    • A question mark with an exclamation mark (!?)
    • Double question marks (??)
    • Double exclamation marks (!!)


  • Use full width quotation marks.
  • Quotes: Double quotation marks (“”) without spaces.


  • Single 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.
  • When only a portion of a sentence is in quotes, the punctuation comes after the quotation mark.


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


14. Reading Speed

  • 9 characters per second (Adult)
  • 7 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

  • Do not use italics or quotes for song lyrics.
  • 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.

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.
  • If a main title or episode title is provided, use the following format:

片名: 复仇者
剧名: 复仇者之心

  • Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, please transliterate.
  • The following titles should be in Chinese brackets: albums, films, songs, TV programs, newspapers, magazines, books, works of art, trilogies.


  • Do not add main title brackets or Chinese parentheses to approved Netflix credits translations and leave a space after NETFLIX.


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. 

19. SDH Guidelines

  • Include as much of the original content as possible.
  • Do not simplify or water down the original dialogue.
  • Truncating the original dialogue should be limited to instances where reading speed and synchronicity to the audio are an issue.
  • Keep to 2 lines for dialogue, 3rd line may be used for descriptors.
  • 3 lines max for onscreen text, if necessary.
  • Character limit can be increased to 18 characters per line, as needed
  • Reading speed can be increased to:
    • Adult programs: 11 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: 9 characters per second 
  • All same-language audible songs should be titled if the rights have been granted.
  • Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
  • 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.

20. References

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

Change Log:


Revised section 11 Numbers – 4th bullet point revised


Added section 19 SDH Guidelines 
Renumbered section 19 References – now section 20


Revised section 8 Foreign Dialogue – 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
Revised section 12 Punctuation – 2nd and 3rd bullet points added
Revised section 17 Titles – 1st and 4th bullet points revised, 2nd bullet point added, 5th bullet point removed

2015-12-07 (Version 3.3 )

Revised Section 19. Simplified Chinese (PRC): Content Requirements

Revised section 19.1 Character Limitation
Revised section 19.2 Character Names – 1st, 4th and 5th bullet points revised
Revised section 19.4 Documentary – 3rd bullet point added
Revised section 19.7 Forced Narratives – 5th bullet point added
Revised section 19.11 Numbers – 2nd bullet point revised (“single-byte/double-byte” replaced with “half width/full width”)
Revised section 19.17 Titles – 2nd and 6th (last) bullet added. 5th bullet revised: (書名號) removed