Key Quality Checking Guidelines – Subtitling/Closed captioning

quality-checkAnyone with experience in subtitling and/or closed captioning knows and understands only too well the importance of performing a thorough quality check of the file before submitting the final project to the client.

To ensure a file is properly quality checked, there are a number points that we need to take into consideration.

Before you start working on any file, make sure you have read all the target language specifications. Pay special attention to: Reading Speed, Character limitation, Italics, Continuity, Dual Speakers, Forced Narratives, Punctuation and Quotes.

  • Position the subtitle according to the client’s specs
    • Horizontally (alignment: left, centred, left-centred, right)
    • Vertically (bottom or top)
  • Format/style. Formats captions according to the client’s specs.
    • Format in italics
    • Format Forced Narratives (All caps, mixed case…)
    • Format songs
    • Format dual speaker subs (dialogue captions)
  • Timing
    • Check cues (in and out) according to the start and end of pronunciation
    • Shot changes
    • Important (plot relevant) speech pauses
    • Min/max durations
  • Text
    • Fix line breaks (between subs and between lines within each sub) according to units of sense and punctuation.
    • Check ellipses
    • Keep consistent naming
    • In-depth proofreading: Punctuation and typos

Final quality checks:

  • Inconsistent cues, gaps between subtitles, raised subtitles, subtitles without text, non-printable characters.

Remember to always check the video until the very end of the video (including credits): Look for extra footage, dialogues, ending credits’ songs, etc.

About the author:

Kelly O’Donovan is the creator of – An education in the art of subtitling.

GOSUB was born from a passion and enthusiasm for subtitling and teaching.

Having started as a linguistic teacher and then moving on to become the Operations Manager of a leading subtitling agency, Kelly used her know-how, affection, and savvy to create efficient and exciting audiovisual courses.

From her years of experience working with producers, dubbing agencies, video-on-demand platforms, entertainment distributors, encoding houses and more, she has learnt a mountain of information about subtitling and closed captioning. She decided to couple this involvement with her other skill set, which is teaching.


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