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Traditional Chinese Timed Text Style Guide

*This document covers the language specific requirements for Traditional Chinese. 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 = 聖誕老人).
  • When introducing a cast member in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: John Smith - Director = (導演 約翰史密斯)
  • When introducing an actor in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: Vivien Leigh - Scarlett O’Hara = (費雯莉飾演郝思嘉 )
  • Do not use Chinese middle period separator (·) between first name and last name.

3. Continuity

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

Subtitle 1 我需要知道

Subtitle 2 發生了什麼事

  • Use an ellipses 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 我需要知道發生⋯

Subtitle 2 不要問了

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


  • Do NOT use the following:
    • Four-dot ellipsis:


    • Three-dot Chinese ellipsis with and English period: 


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 我最愛海灘了,因為⋯

Subtitle 2 (導演)

Subtitle 3 ⋯在海裡游泳最好了

  • Dialogue in TV/Movie clips should only be subtitled if plot-pertinent and if the rights have been granted.
  • News tickers/banners from archive clips do not require subtitles unless plot-pertinent.

5. Dual Speakers

  • Use English hyphens without a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle, with a maximum of one speaker 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.
  • When on-screen text and dialogue overlap, precedence should be given to the most plot-pertinent message. Avoid over truncating or severely reducing reading speed in order to include both dialogue and on-screen text.
  • The duration of the FN subtitle should as much as possible mimic the duration of the on-screen text, except for cases where reading speed and/or surrounding dialogue takes precedence.
  • 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 Chinese parentheses, except for foreign dialogue.
  • If the narrative is split between two or more subtitles, use parentheses at the beginning and end of each subtitle.
  • 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.
  • Use Chinese parentheses for on-screen text.

Subtitle 1 我最愛海灘了,因為⋯

Subtitle 2(導演)

Subtitle 3 ⋯在海裡游泳最好了

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

  • Maximum two lines.

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, 貳, 參, etc) to represent rounded large numbers, use characters for common writing instead (e.g., 五千, 四十億).
  • Do not mix Western Arabic numerals with Chinese number characters:

[correct]           五千二百,四億三千萬

[incorrect]        五千2百,四億3千萬

  • Use Arabic numerals for apartment numbers, street numbers, phone numbers, measurements, chapter numbers, monetary amounts, page numbers, addresses, time, flight numbers, dates.
  • Do not use Western Arabic numbers for days of the week:

[correct]           星期二

[incorrect]        星期2

  • Do not abbreviate years (e.g., 她1992年來過).
  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.
  • Money: Do not convert currency to Taiwan dollar (e.g., £20 > 20英鎊; ¢25 > 2角5分).

12. Punctuation

  • Only use full width Chinese punctuation, except for the hyphens in dual speakers subtitles or the periods in abbreviations (e.g., M.B.A.)
  • 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.
  • Do not use any type of periods.
  • 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.
  • For ellipsis, please use unicode U+2026 - it will display as a midline ellipsis in our platform. The unicode U+22EF is not supported.
  • 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.


  • When a quote carries over several subtitles, only use open and end quote at the beginning and end of the quote

Subtitle 1 我媽曾說:“人的一輩子就像一盒巧克力

Subtitle 2 你永遠不知道

Subtitle 3 你會挑到什麼口味”

  • 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

  • Adult programs: 9 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: 7 characters per second

15. Repetitions

  • Use continuation dots to express a repeated sentence, especially if it is too long.
  • Do not translate words or phrases repeated more than once by the same speaker.
  • If the repeated word or phrase is said twice in a row, time subtitle to the audio, but translate only once to ensure adequate reading speed.

16. Songs

  • Only subtitle plot-pertinent songs if the rights have been granted.
  • Opening and ending theme songs should only be subtitled if clearly plot-pertinent (e.g. for children’s content when the lyrics tell a story) or if instructed by Netflix. Normally, adult programs should not have the opening songs subtitled, except for SDH.
  • Do not use italics or quotes for song lyrics.
  • Use ellipses when a song continues in the background but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.

17. Titles

  • Main titles: do not subtitle the on-screen main title card.
  • Episode titles: do not subtitle episode titles if they do not appear on screen/are voiced-over. If on-screen (either as part of the principal photography or burned into video) or voiced-over, please reference the KNP tool for approved translations.
  • When translating the on-screen episode title, use the following format:


  • 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

  • All plot-pertinent dialogue should be subtitled, and takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
  • Please specify if the person spoken to is a female or male or animal or supreme being. For example: 你、妳、他、她、牠、祂、它
  • Please refrain from using regional slangs, idioms or dialect (e.g. Hokkien, Fujian) that would not be widely understood by all territories with a Traditional Chinese preference.

19. Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (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
  • For TV/Movie clips, all audible lines should be transcribed, if possible. If the audio interferes with dialogue, please give precedence to most plot-pertinent content.
  • All same-language audible songs that do not interfere with dialogue should be titled, if the rights have been granted.
  • Use song title identifiers when applicable - song titles should be in quotes:
    ["Forever Your Girl" playing]
  • 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.
  • When a speaker ID is required for a character who has yet to be identified by name, use [man] or [woman], or [male voice] or [female voice], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music (e.g., rock music playing over a stereo).
  • Sound effects should be plot-pertinent.
  • Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:

         Subtitle 1: However, lately, I've been...
                         [coughs, sniffs]

         Subtitle 2:  ...seeing a lot more of this.

  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [in Spanish]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [speaking Spanish]
    • Always research the language being spoken – [speaking foreign language] should never be used 

20. References

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

Change Log:


Revised section 4 Documentary - 4th and 5th bullet points added
Revised section 7 Forced Narratives – 2nd, 3rd, and 6th bullet points added, 5th bullet point rewritten

Revised section 11 Numbers - 9th bullet point revised
Revised section 12 Punctuation - 8th bullet point added
Revised section 15 Repetitions – 2nd bullet point revised for clarity
Revised section 16 Songs – 2nd bullet point added
Revised section 17 Titles – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bullet points revised
Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity



Revised style guide title from “Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) Timed Text Style Guide” to “Traditional Chinese Timed Text Style Guide”.
Revised Section 11 Numbers – 4th bullet point revised
Revised Section 18 Special Instructions – added the 4th bullet point regarding the usages of reginal slangs
Revised Section 20 References – removed 1st reference link


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


Revised section 8 Foreign Dialogue – 1st and 2nd bullet points revised, 3rd bullet point removed
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 21. Traditional Chinese: Content Requirements

Revised section 21.1 Character Limitation
Revised section 21.2 Character Names – 1st, 4th and 5th bullet points revised. 6th bullet point added
Revised section 21.3 Continuity – 4th (last) bullet revised
Revised section 21.4 Documentary – 3rd bullet point revised
Revised section 21.6 Font Information – 2nd bullet point revised
Revised section 21.7 Forced Narratives – 5th (last) bullet point added
Revised section 21.11 Numbers – 4th bullet point revised. 5th and 7th bullet points added
Revised section 21.12 Punctuation – 1st bullet point added. 3rd bullet point revised
Revised section 21.13 Quotes – 4th bullet revised
Revised section 21.17 Titles – 2nd and 6th (last) bullet point added. 5th bullet point revised: (書名號) removed
Revised section 21.18 Special Instructions – 3rd (last) bullet point added