A question about the use of <br> in subtitles

Hi, I’ve been translating on the viki for a few years now, but recently I had a question about the use of the in sentences, what is the rule? That I use the < br > in a sentence with more than 3 lines?

I see translators using it in one or two lines, I even got into a discussion (friendly discussion), about how and where to use it.

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These are the only official guidelines for adding breaks in subtitles.

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Well If they are short phrases like Yes, No , Maybe, Ok, etc. like you get when 2 people are talking over each other on a talk show, then 3 lines MAX. You don’t want the subtitle box covering too much of the screen. and if there are too many different speakers, the segmenter should have cut the sound bites smaller so that each person has their own segment or, if short sentences then only 2 people in the same segment.


I usually avoid three lines. But…

  1. …there are some (Chinese) subtitles which physically don’t fit into just two lines.
  2. …if on top of a long, two-line worth sub comes a translator explanation, I put the latter into the 3rd line.

Those are the only two times I would use three lines in a sub.


Thanks for the answers! :relieved:

" * Please avoid adding breaks <br> without spaces (1 space sufices). In the Roku TV app, the break will not be rendered and the words will run together if there are no spaces in between the break and the next line."
A huge proportion of watchers are using roku which doesn’t handle breaks well so the use of a break within dialogue from the same person is simply cosmetic and not necessary. As a general rule I tell subbers not to use a break at all unless it is to separate dialogue from two speakers or to separate dialogue from text on screen on a song lyric in the same segment.
We try our best to keep subtitles to one or two lines. This is pretty much a universal recommendation for subtitling and close captioning. As I edit, if the video allows it, when I encounter a three line subtitle which I can’t re-write into two lines while retaining all meaning, then I will try to split the segments into two segments.


I understood, so I was doing it right all this time, now I can guide my teams in the proper way. Thank you all! :blush:

What is Roku TV app? Like we do subtitles for Rakuten VIKI, are they available somewhere else? Isn’t it only English subbers problem? I don’t have any idea what is this app… Everyone in Poland watching dramas that we made here on Rakuten VIKI or Rakuten VIKI app…

@ivati Roku is a TV app like Apple TV or Google TV that offers the streaming of many types of channels including RViki, you need their USB stick for the TV to stream the channels.

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@simi11 Thank you!

I usually follow your advice not to use the < BR > outside of dialogues, but when I watch a subtitled movie on other applications or on TV, I noted that the french subtitles contain only four or five words on one line and the rest of the sentence is on a second line. I think it’s easier, in french, to read 2 short lines in the middle of the screen than 1 big line that takes all the width of the screen especially when the actors diction is very fast. But, as I said, for now, I follow the instructions given.


Well, I always use my "imaginary lines" here in Viki


I work with subtitles since 2012. Since then, I have worked with different genres, viewers, subtitle programs, platforms, video sources. From entertainment to instructional videos to heavy machines and internal corporative videos.

I do not have in hand material written in English to corroborate my knowledge, but there are general rules for CPS (Characters per second) and CPL (characters per line) accordingly to each language average reading speed (how many words per minute an average reader is capable to read without compromising comprehension). In my mother tongue – Brazilian Portuguese – most of the handbooks advise to use CPS 13 – 16 if it is a children’s target video, and something between 18 – 25 CPS to everything else: depending on the video subject, average word size, education level of the target viewers. Regarding CPL: something between 27 – 42 depending on the target media (the bigger the screen, more CPL you may have), there is still some controversy around new formats as tablets and cell phones, but all medias have rules to break a line after a certain number of “words” in favour of a comfortable and proper reading.

If someone needs to go from begin to end of the frame to read (looking only to the bottom of the image), well most part of the scene is lost. Also, if this same person needs to stop the video to fully understand what was said, the comprehension was also lost.

Oh, nice to know about the space after <br> in this specific case. Since everywhere else we need to take it off, I always eliminate the space, I will be more careful to add it from now on.


How do you handle subs on a variety talk show where everyone talks over each other in the same segment? The segment can’t really be split up very well.

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That’s why I avoid subbing talk shows like a plague. Those ppl. in the shows are so rude talking while the other person hasn’t finished even their sentence. They should at least say: Excuse me but…I mean show education and wait until the person finished what they started for god’s sake!

3 or 4 people shouting at the same time bc they don’t talk ; they interrupt by shouting to the top of their lungs. Very Unamusing to watch. I dropped a variety show bc I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was enjoying someone talking, and boom! everyone was interrupting that person, and leaving us with their unfinished conversation (that i wanted so badly to hear till the end) It happened so often I dropped out of the team. How you put 3 or 4 ppl in a segment? Impossible task.

I have never seen @cgwm808 working in a variety show so I’m guessing that’s why she didn’t answered. But since I did I wanted to share that is a pain in the behind.

PS. This show is entirely in Korean. I have never heard an English word on that show: [ASK US ANYTHING]

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Yes, I agree. The interruptions and talking over each other is rude and a royal pain in the behind to sub, but it is really good practice for hearing, learning and understanding every day spoken Korean.


I barely understand one talking i would never be able to separate their conversation; is too hard for me. You must be very advance in Korean.

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I am learning Korean but I am not advanced. I have to play the segment over a few times to hear each speakers ‘voice’ but I just think of it as like music and try to separate the different speakers parts. They also speak a lot of English on that show.

Once I am done with NSAA segmenting school, I will do the segments on that show.

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What’s the name/title of the show?

After School Club. It’s an Idol / Music show and it’s about as noisy, rowdy and rude as you can get. They have over 450 episodes but only a few are translated. They need segmenters but because it’s difficult to know where to cut the segments, they don’t stay. I will segment on this show after I graduate segging school. I have no fear! I am not defeated! :grin:

I’m doing mostly English to English subs on that show and a lot of the Korean subs that I understand. The host Heejun, he talks so fast in both English and Korean that it is a real trial to understand him sometimes in either language. His English has not defeated me yet! except for when he throws in a Korean word that I do not understand.

One of the problems with subbing that show is because they are polyglots, they switch back and forth from Korean to English in the same sentence. So a lot doesn’t get translated because the subber doesn’t know one of the words. and the subbers who do know the missing words, can’t understand all the mumbled English so they leave it blank too.

Yea, this show is a TRUE exercise in conversational polyglot.:laughing:

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