120 or 183 characters?


In the Segment timer, we can only subtitle up to 120 characters.
In the Subtitle editor, the limit is 255 characters but it makes too many lines of subtitles.
When we watch our subtitles in Viewer mode instead of watching in the Subtitle editor, there’s a little difference between what we can see in Viewer mode and in the Subtitle editor.
For ex, 3 lines in Subtitle Editor make 2 lines in Viewer mode:

I wanted to know how many characters we could put in 2 lines and:

The result is for 2 lines of subtitles, we can put up to 183 characters = 255 (max) - 72 characters (left).
It’s about 90 + 90 characters for 1st line + 2nd line.

It can happen that if the word contains too many letters, the word will automatically appear on the 2nd line of subtitles, so the 1st line of subttiles won’t contain exactly 90 characters but less than 90 characters. And if this goes on, a 3rd line of subtitles might appear because the whole sentence is shifted by 1 or 2 long words, spaces, etc…


Great post! I always wondered if it would be difficult for Viki engineers to make one line behave exactly the same on all platforms and all Viki tools.

Three lines looks unprofessional to me. If 255 characters do not fit anywhere into 2 lines, perhaps they should then limit Editor’s total character count more.

But I just remembered something. Lookie here:

Notice the massive amount of coding characters it took for this one subtitle. I guess it’s not that easy to assume the optimal character size that will comfortably fit two rows on screen.


Hey Bozoli!

Yes, why not?
As you said, they are coding characters that take place (4 for br, 7 for italics) so it increases the limit.
And for the segmenter, it would be easier to know where to cut with the written subtitles sometimes, like cut at an adequate word. I’ll think that we have times where it’s inevitable to make 3 lines of subtitles to see the error and then, correct it because it was undetectable at first but then when we see the subtitles, it’s become clearer and we know where to cut. And we don’t have to call back the subtitler to fill the holes because of 3 lines.
In this case, I think it can help to have the limit > 183 characters?

For the coding characters, they don’t take any place on the screen when we write them, meaning that on the counter of 255 characters, it will decrease because it’s counted as characters but it’s the only effect.
If we put italics to the sentence, the last word of the 1st line won’t go down to the 2nd line because the coding doesn’t show up on screen, so they are invisible.
Same for break “br”.
The sentence will occupy the same space with or without coding.

But if we put hyphens (with or without space), it will eat up the space on screen and modify the length of the subtitle, like a real word. So yes, for dialogue, it’s like 2 + 88 characters for each line (but 4 characters eaten by hyphens, it’s negligeable in my pov)

The most important after seeing this for me: I don’t have to panic and change segments/ look for shorter words if I see that there are 3 lines of subtitles in the Subtitle Editor because it will make 2 lines in the Viewer mode. It will save time :slight_smile:

In rare occasions when we do put those hyphens, it’s usually just two per subtitle (let’s assume one per line). So, most of the time it’s zero hyphens, and then alternatively (and seldom) two. That shouldn’t pose such an issue, either, right?

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omg… French is so long…

Could you just for fun show me what a sub looks like with no condensing (with the original English of course)?

Most of the time, it’s just as you said :slight_smile:

Sure! Here:
2 lines of English subs can become 3 lines in French (but since 3 lines in Subttile Editor makes 2 lines in Viewer Mode)

148 - 99 = +49 characters compared to English characters = +1/2 line of subs
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wow thanks so much! It is really important I see to keep the segments reasonable :slight_smile: Or else you guys cannot sub fully.

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Different languages have different word length. English has two sets of words: the long “elegant” ones derived from Latin in Roman times and French in Norman times (like “elevate”), and on the other hand the very short Saxon ones (like “lift”). Sometimes there are two words for the same thing, with a slightly different meaning. The short ones nowadays are prevailing in day-to-day spoken word and thus in subtitles (except if it’s medical, legal and such).

[An interesting fact is that the language has evolved more in the U.K., going towards shorter words, whereas American English has kept the longer words of the 18th-19th century (in the U.K. it’s a “lift” and in the US it’s an “elevator”). It is a known fact that if the language travels far away, some things fossilize (we see this a lot in Canadian French) and some things do evolve, but in a different direction. ]

Greek on the other hand has many longer words, derived of course from classical ancient Greek.
Therefore, as a professional translator for decades, when we got paid by the page of the original English, I was dismayed to find that always, always, the Greek was longer by a few pages (in a book - of course less if the work was shorter) thus I felt somehow cheated.
Nowadays I ask to be paid by page of X characters (or X words) of the target translation (Greek) as counted by MS Word and I explain that it will be a little bit more than the original.

I’m saying this to point out that if you base your character count on what you think is suitable for English, some other languages will have a big problem. So I wish things were left just as they are. I try my best to keep to two lines, but sometimes it’s just not possible without omitting important information.