So, we all know that ideally each subtitle should contain a single complete sentence.
We are taught to avoid presenting too much text onscreen at one time and to make sure the subtitles are easy to read and follow, always allowing enough time for each subtitle to be read.
So, what is the most effective way to do this?
When subtitling, play the video so that you listen to a sizeable portion of what is being said (before you create the subtitles). This way, you’ll know what is being said and how they’re saying it, which in turn will help you to create subtitles more accurately (knowing where to place your punctuation).
This will also help you determine how much wording you can fit into a subtitle (not too much, since people still need to read and make sense of it at the same time). Also, listen to the voices of the characters to help with the placement of punctuation.
Try and avoid misplacing commas and full stops. For instance, a comma is usually used to indicate a pause in reading, however it is not used in such a sense in subtitling.
Remember to concentrate on the flow when subtitling as well. It shouldn’t just be about fitting dialogue/text into the appropriate subtitle(s). They should read well too and have a natural flow.
EXTRA TIP: When struggling to find to hear or find a word, continue to play the video well past the unintelligible word/speech and actually listening to what is being said further on in the video. Read the dialogue and listen to the topic of discussion. Try to understand what the characters are actually saying. It might help you to get the word or words. It will give you a better idea of what is being said or has been said by listening to what’s happening in the rest of the video ahead.