Should we start adding line breaks for viewing comfort again?

@mirjam_465, @cerejacult
I was mainly referring to the line break code… isn’t it < br > without the slash / ??
The subtitler used after br a space and then a slash…
image Isn’t this the correct line break code?
very often the Itallics aren’t used also and writing out emotions like (laughing) isn’t the way we sub or it is?

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Yeah, you’re right. Those examples are wrong, and they also tend to write [text] without italics.

Roku put the subs in the center, making the automatic break. It is not something you can adjust as you like. He does that in every sub of every streaming platform. And Roku is not an app. When I say app, I’m referring to viki’s app. The app doesn’t have this possibility yet. That’s why I said they can’t.

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I’m editing a viki subber and it had the breaks < br >. I don’t see (laughing, crying, etc) being subbed. I think this is more for description sub and not our sub.

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I just edited a presubbed fairly recent movie. About ¾ of the sub had breaks in them. They were the expression of a compulsive habit, not there to add to viewer comprehension or comfort. Sentences as few as five words had breaks in them. Breaks are added without rhyme or reason. “Justice forms the order of society.” is divided into two lines. Why? “The pharmacy is just
a temporary job.” “just” is modifying a temporary job so if the sentence is divided, shouldn’t it be with job? If breaks are to be used, shouldn’t the subber at least try to divide according to the parts of the sentence and only to make reading easier?


I copied the images from the Viki paid subtitler’s account… so if there are several subtitlers using that not every person is doing the correct subtitling format… therefore I showed the wrong application of break coding and the written emotions…

I find it somehow silly when such wrong subs (which are paid) need to be corrected later… I would assume that paid subtilers are taught the correct terms applied when creating subtitles like we “volunteers” do… I’m referring to using Italics, using brackets [] and not using line breaks as stated by Viki themselves…

Viki should have a better plan for paid subtitlers in place when it comes to collaboration with the project teams meaning sort of a communication, as cgwm808 stated under different topic that while she was in the editor a paid subtitler was changing her subs… although you can see who is currently working there… and can read incoming messages in the chatterbox… if one would care… is Viki aware of all of this? @vikicommunity


I can not speak for others on this matter, only for myself and my experience. As far as experience goes, as CM and CE, I never had any problem with viki paid subbers. They always reached out to me first and asked me if I was ok with they coming in. They always comment on TD when they start to sub the part, and I never experienced any overwrite in any of the projects I was in. While I was editing I could even see that they started to follow the editing I was doing and by the end of the project, I barely had any adjustment to make in breaks and italics matter. I had even occasions where they reached out to me via pm, and we talked about what did I prefer when editing, if they should do this or that. I always had a pretty open communication with the paid subber as well as the volunteers here on viki, and I never had any problems with them.


They are not all the same. Just as volunteers are not all the same.
For instance, I have only good words to say for the paid subbers on Bossam. As soon as we, the editing team, decided on something and posted it on Team Discussion (for instance, for brevity’s sake, Astronomy, Astrology and Meteorology Bureau became Astronomy Bureau), they immediately implemented it and from the next episode they wrote it as we had stipulated. I do believe they carefully read TD, even if they didn’t really take part in it.
But things are not always that idyllic.


I guess we are the lucky ones ^^

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@cerejacult – Because you do not sub from Korean to English, how would you ever experience a paid subber over-writing your subtitles? Most of the ~300 Kdramas I have edited were subbed by volunteers. When a drama is subbed by the paid subbers, editing can start as soon as upload is completed. Of course, there would be no overwriting as you edited because subbing is complete at the time of upload. Also, how do you know whether the paid subber’s translations are correct or not?
I have subbed from Korean to English, segmented and been chief editor on nearly 300 Kdrama and movies, most of which were subbed by volunteers. I am not saying our volunteers are perfect as they are not uniformly competent, but is it wrong for me to expect that paid subbers would be more competent than the unpaid volunteers, and to use breaks according to the sentence structure?


I can see if there was an overwrite while editing and if a subber is having problems saving the translation, they usually comment about it. As far as I remember, there were no cases on the projects I was in.

Not all dramas, I had many projects (Japanese, Korean, chinese) where the team were volunteers and the paid subber was to come after a time limit to fill in what was missing.

Having a good and trustworthy TE to check the translation.

I never said it was wrong, I just talked about how was my experience with them. I can not speak for others on this matter, only for myself and my experience.


I always had a pretty open communication with the paid subber as well as the volunteers here on viki, and I never had any problems with them.

That’s wonderful to know that the paid subbers kept an opened communication with you, and are doing their job so well. I honestly was worried that what happened to @cgwm808 was a common thing here now. I’m glad that’s not the case at all. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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To answer the thread as a volunteer subber, I don’t believe there to be anything more annoying than when you see:
“I told her yesterday that I was going to watch him. But apparently she didn’t
hear me.”
No, I would like line breaks such as:
“I told her yesterday that I was going to watch him.
But apparently she didn’t hear me.”

I mean if the line breaks will be there either way, why not control them?


Because that’s how you know it’s not a dialogue (apart from the hyphens that dialogue always has)
I don’t know whether the issue with apps putting on their own spaces on top of ours (resulting several spaces) has been resolved. Viki never stated that clearly.


I think it is the hyphens that tells you it’s a dialogue and nothing else. I mean, we’ve had subtitles to everything in my country for 40 years, and I know they separate long lines between clauses. This makes it easier for the reader to follow and read more quickly. In that way they can focus on the actual movie scene and not read the subtitles only. You do miss a lot of the movie when you need to focus too much on the subtitles.

I watch other websites for romances I can’t get on Viki. They always add line breaks. Sometimes any written text is above the picture of the scene at the very top of the screen. The song lyric is above the dialogue, and the dialogue is at the very bottom always cut by a line break. What a pain for viewers! I’m a speed reader, but it’s mass confusion! I use my pause and rewind buttons a lot! It is not viewing comfort as far as I’m concerned.

Unnecessary line breaks are totally up to the subbers. Lots of them can’t write proper English, let alone know where to divide a sub so it makes the most sense!

I have watched over 1200 Asian shows, and I always come from the perspective of a viewer. I feel I must consider the viewer’s needs as a CE. Otherwise, all my volunteer work is useless.


Here is a current example of how a line break changes the meaning:

  • ♪ Only you, only you, only you < br >
    Define me ♪
  • segmenter | Dec 16
    ♪ Only you Define me ♪

“Only you, only you, only you” means only you are in my heart.
“Define me” is a command, which is impossible for most people to do.
“Only you, only you, only you define me” means you have the ability to affect or strongly impact my life.

Most subbers and many Viki editors don’t understand such implications. Native English speakers, who are proficient in English, recognize the subtlety of meaning.


“Most subbers and many Viki editors don’t understand such implications. Native English speakers, who are proficient in English, recognize the subtlety of meaning.” I agree.
That’s why the presubbed and the viki paid subbers who put breaks in and segment sentences into 3 or 4 parts seem not to understand the impact on meaning when they break up lines of dialogue and lyrics randomly. They seem to believe the viewer is only capable of reading only 4 words at a time.


Line breaks are a normal part of any subtitling. Viki’s limitation for the sake of Roku users seems to now be outdated. So breaks can be used. But only in the right places.

There are some rules for breaks on other websites. For example, one is that, when dividing a long sentence, you should try to put the break after a clause. If the sentence is simple (but long), break comes preferably after a verb.

Any other “rules” you know of?



Divide at pauses, such as comma breaks or ends of sentences
Divide before conjunctions and prepositions (and, or, for, in, on, because, etc.)
Keep articles and nouns together
First and last name of a person should appear on the same line
Keep the subject and the verb together
Keep phrasal verbs and compound verbs together (take off, watch out, put on, etc)
Avoid leaving single words on one line, even if dividing at punctuation

Always keep the text on one line, unless it exceeds the character limitation. Follow these basic principles when the text has to be broken into 2 lines:

  • The line should be broken

    • after punctuation marks
    • before conjunctions
    • before prepositions
  • The line break should not separate

    • a noun from an article
    • a noun from an adjective
    • a first name from a last name
    • a verb from a subject pronoun
    • a prepositional verb from its preposition
    • a verb from an auxiliary, reflexive pronoun or negation

In Teletext, which is used to display subtitles on some broadcast platforms, line length is limited to 37 fixed-width (monospaced) characters. Other platforms use proportional fonts, making it impossible to determine the width of the line based on the number of characters alone. In this case, lines are constrained by the width of the region in which they are displayed.

BROADCAST: 37 characters (Teletext constraint}
ONLINE: 68% of the width of a 16:9 video and 90% of the width of a 4:3 video
If targeting both online and broadcast platforms you must apply both constraints, i.e. ensure that the number of characters within a region does not exceed 37.

The number of characters that generate this width is determined by the font used, the given font size and the width of the characters in the particular piece of text (for example, ‘lilly’ takes up less width than ‘mummy’ even though both contain the same number of characters).

Rules for line and subtitle breaks:

  1. Subtitles should contain single sentences.
    Each subtitle should comprise a single complete sentence. Depending on the speed of speech, there are exceptions to this general recommendation (see “live subtitling”), short and long sentences below)

  2. Avoid three lines or more.
    A maximum subtitle length of two lines is recommended. Three lines may be used if you are confident that no important picture information will be obscured. When deciding between one long line or two short ones, consider line breaks, number of words, pace of speech and the image.

  3. Break at natural points.
    Subtitles and lines should be broken at logical points. The ideal line-break will be at a piece of punctuation like a full stop, comma or dash. If the break has to be elsewhere in the sentence, avoid splitting the following parts of speech:

  • article and noun (e.g. the + table; a + book)
  • preposition and following phrase (e.g. on + the table; in + a way; about + his life)
  • conjunction and following phrase/clause (e.g. and + those books; but + I went there)
  • pronoun and verb (e.g. he + is; they + will come; it + comes)
  • parts of a complex verb (e.g. have + eaten; will + have + been + doing)

However, since the dictates of space within a subtitle are more severe than between subtitles, line breaks may also take place after a verb. For example:

We are aiming to get
a better television service.

Line endings that break up a closely integrated phrase should be avoided where possible.

We are aiming to get a
better television service.

Line breaks within a word are especially disruptive to the reading process and should be avoided. Ideal formatting should therefore compromise between linguistic and geometric considerations but with priority given to linguistic considerations.

  1. Consider the image
    When making a choice between one long line or two short lines, you should consider the background picture. In general, ‘long and thin’ subtitles are less disruptive of picture content than are ‘short and fat’ subtitles, but this is not always the case. Also take into account the number of words, line breaks etc.

  2. Short sentences.
    Short sentences may be combined into a single subtitle if the available reading time is limited. However, you should also consider the image and the action on screen. For example, consecutive subtitles may reflect better the pace of speech.

  3. Long sentences.
    In most cases verbatim subtitles are preferred to edited subtitles (see this research by BBC R&D) so avoid breaking long sentences into two shorter sentences. Instead, allow a single long sentence to extend over more than one subtitle. Sentences should be segmented at natural linguistic breaks such that each subtitle forms an integrated linguistic unit. Thus, segmentation at clause boundaries is to be preferred. For example:

When I jumped on the bus

I saw the man who had taken
the basket from the old lady.

Segmentation at major phrase boundaries can also be accepted as follows:

On two minor occasions
immediately following the war,

small numbers of people
were seen crossing the border.

There is considerable evidence from the psycho-linguistic literature that normal reading is organised into word groups corresponding to syntactic clauses and phrases, and that linguistically coherent segmentation of text can significantly improve readability.

Random segmentation must certainly be avoided:

On two minor occasions
immediately following the war, small

numbers of people, etc.

It is also acceptable to use sequences of dots (three at the end of a to-be-continued subtitle, and two at the beginning of a continuation) to mark the fact that a segmentation is taking place, especially in legacy subtitle files.