Subtitling: A to Z

Subtitling: A to Z

Being a fan of audiovisual entertainment can offer you endless opportunities and timeless choices, especially with the ongoing growth in the field of technology which gives you an experience that is life-like more than anything else. However, there is one thing that movie fans will almost always agree on; there are never enough movies to watch. Different ideas, stories, actors, sets, and scripts give a personalized touch to one movie over the other, which in turn explains the passion of fans for foreign movies. At one time, being a speaker of one language often restricts movie-goers from expanding their kingdom of watched movies into those made in their own native language, but not anymore. Translation never fails to impress as it diverges into the incredible art of Subtitling, which solves this problem and many more for sure.

Subtitling is summarized in being the art and technique of translating on-screen spoken language into written scripts in another language, in synchronization with the displayed image and corresponding audio and in accordance with the original meaning, intent, and context of the spoken word. In fact, Subtitling is a type of translation known as “subordinate translation”, meaning that it enjoys a livelier nature than solid text translation, being bound to limitations of time and space. It may sound easy enough, but Subtitling has many aspects and twists that must be taken into consideration in order to yield the desired results.

While translation is more free-range, Subtitling has limitations that affect the quality of the text and the viewer experience as well. For one thing, Subtitling is limited to two lines of text to be displayed on the screen at a time, each consisting of 35 characters and sum up to 70 characters which include any letter, punctuation marks, symbols, and spaces. This rate was carefully calculated to match the average reading speed, which mounts up to 3 words per second, giving the reader enough time to read the two lines with ease and focus. Hence is noted another limitation that restricts Subtitling, which is the amount of time each subtitle is allowed to be displayed; the minimum duration of a subtitle is 1 second, while the maximum duration is 6 seconds of display on the screen.

This challenging form of translation takes special tools that accommodate to the unique requirements of the text’s time, space, and synchronization. Many tools and programs have been introduced into the market of Subtitling, with varying levels of advancement and proficiency of product and different built-in gadgets. Some of the best subtitling tools out in the market are as follows:

1.     Subtitle Workshop

It is an efficient tool that includes spell checker, text and time operations alongside reading and writing engines. One of the specs of this software is that it allows you to create and save your text in any of 60 available formats.

2.     Subtitle Edit

A professional program for making, editing, and synchronizing subtitles with maximum speed and the least effort possible, not to mention that it comes in about 30 languages.

3.     Jubler

It is an easy-to-use platform that allows the user to create and edit subtitles as well as display them in both design and real-time modes.

4.     Aegisub

This software is a great choice for professional translators as well as newbies, as it offers a variety of interesting features such as automatic subtitle translation interface and a downloadable digital dictionary of the preferred language.

5.     Wincaps

This intuitive software allows you to create subtitles or captions with ease and speed, thanks to the wide variety of displayed formats and layouts included in the program. Along with the number of unique features it offers both start-up users and professionals, this software can be used online and offline to your convenience.

6.     Poliscript

It is an innovative software with great features and extra advantages that give the user an experience like no other; for one thing, it works according to the basis of “what you see is what you get”, meaning that the font, text, and style will be displayed as seen on your screen. Also, it features a read-only mode for the careful preview of your work.


Reading the subtitles while watching a movie can steal some of the fun and heat of the moment; however, with a combination of translation skills and an efficient Subtitling software as those mentioned above, watching a subtitled movie becomes a breeze. It is, after all, an art that is well respected and a talent that is rightfully appreciated.