Forced narratives belong to the family of captions and subtitles in timed text. So, what are they exactly?
Also known as Forced Subtitles, a Forced Narrative (FN) is a text overlay (burned-in text) to clarify communications which are relevant to the plot and meant to be understood by the viewer, whether it is a foreign or alien language or a flag, a sign, or a text message.
They are used to clarify dialogue or texted graphics which have not been translated in the localization and dubbing process.
Forced Narratives are not particularly complex, and the general rules below can be used as a guideline.
Forced narratives should be in ALL CAPS, except for written passages (e.g., excerpts from books, magazines or newspapers, handwritten notes, social media messages and text messages), which must match the case of the text as it appears on screen and for foreign dialogue.
In order to improve readability, mixed case can also be used for long passages of on-screen text (e.g., long written passages used as prologue or epilogue).
Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle.
Unfamiliar foreign words and phrases should be italicized.
When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, use an ellipsis at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence in the subtitle that follows it.
Subtitle 1: I don’t think we should…
Subtitle 2: (FN) DO NOT OPEN
Subtitle 3: …open the box.
FN subtitles are delivered as separate timed text files.