7 Major Subtitling Services Errors And How to Avoid Them

Posted by Gummy Tran on December 23, 2021.

Subtitling errors are sometimes funny, mainly if they only cause minor misunderstandings. By creating a hilarious unintended meaning, a misspelled word can turn an ordinary video into a viral one. 

However, in most cases, subtitling errors are harder to forgive. They might make a video challenging to follow or impossible to view. Your efforts in creating the video will result in no ROI but confused and disengaged viewers.

Thus, the story of success or failure when tapping into a foreign market could be decided by subtitling. It plays as a bridge between you and your audience: A good translation helps viewers engage with your message, while a bad one will cut all bonds you’ve built with your audience.

Let’s check out these seven common subtitling mistakes and learn how to avoid losing your audience in translation with subtitling services.

Word-to-Word Translation

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The benefit of video content is that it allows your viewers to simply relate to what they see. However, if your subtitles aren’t aligned with the images behind them, you might lose this edge in seconds.

Words have distinct meanings in different languages. You can’t always retain the message intact while going for a literal translation. To a foreigner, the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” makes no sense. The audience sees rain in the video while subtitles say animals falling from the sky could confuse them. 

You’ll need to change the original script to make it easier for your audience to follow. Heavy rain has its phrase in every language. Select the one that best matches the context!

In order to avoid such mistakes, it’s critical to work with subtitlers who are native to the target language. Locals will comprehend your subtitles as they are made based on regional terminology.


All Voices Have the Same Style

Subtitling Services

When you have many actors speaking in your videos, you must ensure that each one has their own ‘voice.’ This means that the translation should take into account the speaker’s personality.

For instance, if you have a video about teenagers, and your original transcript already reflects their way of speaking, then your translation should do the same. In this case, using too formal vocabulary will make the video appear less credible to your audience.

If your video content includes different voices, ensure your subtitlers are given a style guide to identify the language differences. So the viewers can identify themselves with the situations they see. 


Some Subtitling Services Use Long Phrases 

Some languages need more space than English, while others may express the same ideas with fewer words. For websites, this means you’ll need more space on a page to publish the same content.

When it comes to subtitles, though, things aren’t as simple to fix. There should be two lines of text on the screen. If you make it any longer, you risk obscuring the image.

Furthermore, people do not have enough time to read all of the information displayed on the screen. The video is hard to follow if the image does not match the subtitles. Such errors cause confusion and discomfort, and your viewers will most likely stop watching.

Subtitles should appear on the screen at the same time the words are spoken. To avoid wordy translated subtitles, make sure the source script has short sentences.

Whether conversation or narrative, try to keep your original content in simple phrases. Your subtitling services will translate the script to meet technical requirements more efficiently.


Line Breaks Are Unnatural

Subtitling Services

Subtitle lines should be written the same way they are spoken — following a sentence or after a phrase. Dividing the text into pieces randomly makes the sentences hard to follow. Both subtitles and the image should be watched on the screen simultaneously. You’ll lose viewers if they have to read a phrase twice to comprehend it.

Remove any awkward breaks and rewrite the translation if phrases don’t fit. You have to ensure that every line is easy to follow and understand when viewing the movie. 


Not Enough Punctuation for Subtitling Services

Periods are rarely used in subtitling. However, if you want to keep the context clear, use exclamation points and question marks. Commas, colons, semicolons, and apostrophes break up sentences and highlight ideas in the script.

Reading a text without any punctuation wouldn’t make sense. So do subtitles. Without punctuation, the audience will not grasp what you’re attempting to say. Hence, it is crucial to double-check your source text for proper punctuation and ask your subtitlers to follow the good practice for the target script.


Relying on Automated Translation

No software can completely replace human translation. While machine translation can provide an acceptable version of your script, the meaning intact will be lost. Irony, sarcasm, humour, and emotions are all incomprehensible to computers.

Your viewers should be more engaged with your video content. However, if high-quality subtitles are not included, your audience will not engage. Automated subtitling is awkward and hard to relate to. Subtitling services offered by a reliable firm is preferable. 


The Text is Illegible

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People won’t see the text if it’s too small or in the wrong colour. With so many people watching video content on their smartphones, these facts are critical for a better user experience.

Anything less than 9 points generally does not fulfil the requirement. When it comes to colour, the background must also be taken into account. You should avoid:

  • White letters on a white background
  • Grey letters on a dark background
  • Black letters on a black background

If audiences can’t read the text at the bottom of the screen, even the best translation will go unnoticed. Test all of your subtitled films on various devices to ensure that they are readable in every situation.


Pick Your Right Company for Subtitling Services

Subtitling mistakes may convert an excellent video into a poor piece of content or even make it useless.

If you’re going to spend money making high-quality videos, include subtitles in your budget right from the beginning. Any shortcuts in translation will not help you reach new audiences. Instead, you risk losing your audience to other videos that are more fascinating.

If you are looking for a professional partner providing subtitling services, look no further than GTE Media.

Subtitling services

Our subtitling services include translation, timecoding, encoding, or review. All are handled neatly with the audience-centred approach. Before beginning a project, we conduct extensive research on the target audiences to ensure that they are provided with accurate information and emotions. We pledge to offer complete media localization services from start to finish with hundreds of language experts at a competitive rate. 

Send us a message and let our subtitling services experts give you a 1:1 consultancy.

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