Detailed or concise sub?

Hi guys,

Just wondering what kind of subtitles do you prefer?

Detailed or concise?

Thank you~


They should

  1. make sense and be natural in the target language (no Korean or Chinese sentence structure)
  2. convey all the information, but not necessarily word-by-word.
  3. be no more than 2,5 lines long, maximum three if the segment is long enough to read. Condense if necessary.

I remember a sequence of very full subtitles in The Legend of the Blue Sea.

Eye roll assessment: showing the whites: 80%;
low temperature;

15:54 high momentary concentration; wearing two layers of underwear; habitual smoker, cigarettes in right pocket; fast heartbeat;
15:57 right handed: right pocket worn out; hands folded, left on top; susceptibility to hypnosis: high;
15:59 same color scarf, undershirt, and socks; matching compulsively.
16:01 Ah, Chief Go?
Conclusion: will conform to repeated suggestions in hypnosis, using tools.

Originally it was a 4-line sub, now they split it into two segments, which visually is less crowded, only two lines each. But the duration is very small, so it makes no big difference: there’s no way the viewer can read everything without pausing. Try it on your own if you like, here it is. Go to 15:50

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It depends on the drama. On any drama I CM, or Eng Mod, the segmenting will generally look to include a full sentence, unless the sentence is incredibly long. We also include information like translation notes for idioms and for historical or other information for our studio audience. Some dramas require the use of the pause button because you really do want to see the whole piece of information - Song of Phoenix has some very long subs, due to the poetry and history in it. It’s not just about the translation of the sub, it’s about making it truly accessible to the world. But then this is a perspective based on historical/xianxia/wuxia and not modern, less complex dramas. I would though expect to see a translation note for a cooking item, or specialty police or medical or political/historical information to help the viewer.

Your guide should be your English Moderator and Editors, not this Discussions board. The genre and other things do make a difference when subbing, or segmenting, or editing.

And sometimes a LITERAL translation, like for an idiom, with the implied translation, is the proper subtitle.

GeNie of the Lamp

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Actually, the Discussion board is the only place where a bunch of Editors can argue pros and cons of any translation “rule” (I shouldn’t really call it that way). No custom in translating on Viki is set in stone. And what better place to ask a more experienced Editor or get a second opinion than here? Also, Editors are not infallible, and occasionally should take into an account the viewers’ experiences.


Sigh. Okay, since you have said this - well, my reply was based on this person being a subber, and here’s the reasons for the way it was phrased, rather than as a discussion between editors:

  1. The original poster is unlikely to be an editor of any type, but most likely from the questions posted here previously and as shown on profile, no moderator permissions. A TE or EE or GE would have to have the moderator for English present there. You may review this yourself.

  1. My comment about checking with the people you’re working with was aimed yes, at turning a question that should be asked of the Team, back TO the Team. Say you had a subber come here and get such and such suggestions from the world at large, and then without your knowing it, follow it without question or your say-so.

My Teams know they may openly or privately ask about anything they want to know about or are curious about, and any issues we need to talk about are discussed on TD or by PM, whatever they like. We’re working together on the drama, after all, and I see no reason to make things a mystery.

Other editors have long lists on their Notes regarding their preferences, and that too should be honored.

So that is why I made the point about checking with the Team leaders, because sometimes what you read here isn’t what they want done. And it’s their ship.

GeNie of the Lamp wishes the honorable Bozoli a pleasant evening… POOF!

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Sure, I understand what you mean, of course :wink:

I am just guilty of curiosity. I want some discussion on these topics to actually learn a thing or two more.

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In fact, I was just wondering your preference and expectations of the subs as a viewer rather than the guidelines or principles that subbers should follow.

Thank you anyway.

Next time, I will make myself more clear.


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In my case, what I like as a viewer is what I try to do as a moderator. (Probably other people too)


@ laura:

As a viewer I would love to see simple subtitles. I hate to see semi colons, commas and words like gonna, wanna or whatnot (grrrrr hate those 3 words so much).

The simpler the subtitles, the faster we can read them and be able to enjoy the scene as we read the translation.

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We rarely put semi colons in subtitles. But commas? They are important!



love the picture and totally agree that “punctuation saves lives”~

Thank you for your humor~~~

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You are so right about that. But lately some ppl. are getting carried away and put commas all over the place, even when one, is not needed. The same goes with the semi-colon; on netflix that’s all you see in the subs and it annoys me so much.

Next time, I’ll make sure to do a screenshot (which you so nicely taught me how to do). You’ll see what I mean with the excess use of commas and semi-colon.

I should have mentioned here; this is happening a lot on NETFLIX, where I watch a lot of dramas, too.

If you watch NETFLIX you’ll see this happening a lot in Asian dramas. The new thing is ‘‘whatnot–’’ in a Chinese drama no less! The gonna and wanna are a favorite on the subtitles, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love NETFLIX. I hate the quality in their subtitles lately.

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