Monolingual subtitles are subtitles which are in the same language as the audio.
But, why do you need subtitles in the same language as the audio?
- Because your audience might not turn on the sound: 85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute.
- Language learners are included in your audience: subtitles in the same language as the audio help language learners access your content and also improve their language level.
- Because the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing audience needs them to access the content. According to Action On Hearing Loss, there are 11 million people with hearing loss across the UK.
Factors to Consider
It may seem like a simple task to merely transcribe audio content into written content, but there are several factors that a subtitler must consider:
- Character limits: In Teletext, the service used to display subtitles on some broadcast platforms, line length is limited to 37 fixed-width (monospaced) characters. Other platforms use proportional fonts. The BBC guidelines say that a line should be 68% of the width of a 16:9 video and 90% of the width of a 4:3 video. Netflix, on the other hand, sets the limit at 42 characters for alphabetical languages.
- Reading speed: The BBC guidelines state that for a general audience to keep up with the subtitles, they should be displayed at 160-180 words per minute (WPM).
- Clarity: Subtitlers strive to keep subtitles free from hesitations and repetitions to make them easy to understand and fast to read.
- Line breaks: Captions tend to occupy one to three lines. There are three things to be kept in mind when splitting the text. Firstly, you must consider the character limit per line. Secondly, you must remember the need for clarity. Finally, you should remember that the lines in a subtitle should be more or less the same length.
- Shot changes: Another thing to take into account are scene changes. Professional subtitles are timed to shot change. This means that, when there is a shot change, subtitles should not linger on screen. They should end right before the shot change and start with the shot change.
- General timing rules: Generally, a subtitle should stay at least one second on screen, and no more than 6 seconds.