Always laughing off the horrendous subtitles as you watch a show? Do you know the Top 3 Challenges of Subtitling!

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Do you over rely on the subtitles when watching movie, drama or other videos?  How many times have you got scratch your head and ponder if the subtitles are indeed reflecting what the foreign actress is talking? Subtitling is one effort that is highly reliant  on human translators rather than machine translation.  No one will be satisfied by watching a movie with subtitles which  are coupled with literal subtitles.  But yet, for us to view the 3 seconds of text displayed, takes much arduous effort to put things together.

Today, we will give you a clear understanding of the top 3 challenges which translators will face on subtitling.

Time (much more than we expect!)

Subtitling requires lots of time, energy and patience to ensure you are reading what is an accurate reflection of the speeches Generally, the process of subtitling takes 10 times longer the actual show runtime. Take 90 minute length of the movie as an example; it requires almost 20 good hours to ensure the subtitles are inserted at the correct timing, and not including the pre-works and any other post-production efforts.  And to translate the sentences, very often the translator will have to listen repeatedly to get the correct messages across to other foreign language version.  It is definitely a big challenge for a project manager to take charge of a subtitling case; he must always put his eyes on each stage of it.


Cultural difference is also a consideration for translators.  They cannot just translate the meaning from the original source directly; localization is a fundamental element should be applied on subtitling. Jokes, slangs, idioms connect with culture strongly; audiences with different cultural background have difficulties to capture the meaning behind the story. Under the cultural limitation, translators should inspire their creativity to make the subtitles more engaging instead of translating cultural jokes or idioms directly.


The synchronization is one of most crucial challenge for subtitling. When synchronizing the subtitles on the audio track, the translated content should be less than 2 lines per screen.  The optimal line length should be around 50- 75 characters per line which includes spaces; otherwise, the audience will unable to catch the meaning from translation shortly. In this way, translators should keep concisely in their work and makes it more readable for target audiences.

We at Scribers believe a movie with excellent subtitles will help your video to engage more audiences. To find out more about our subtitling service, please do not hesitate to log on to! We look forward to hearing from you soon!

6 Steps to complete your document translation

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Step 1 Client confirmation

Our project consultants are actively listening to your needs and assist in any  clarifications that you need.

In our “Big 3 Promises”, your enquiries will be answered within 30 minutes in the working hours. Once your requirements are firm, please send your source document via our E-Quote system .  Please try your best to fill in as much detail as you can, and if possible please do upload your document  and our project consultant will be able to provide you with a precise costing. Every single document or information you provide to us is confidential and limited access for certain project team, so please rest assured!

Step 2 Terminology Research

Before we start translating your source document, the Project Manager and assigned team members will embark on the necessary research to build up a relevant glossary for  terminology database. In order to support translation excellence in your document, Scribers applies SDL Trados technology on each translation project. In this way, we can ensure the consistency of terms and stylistics  of every translated document you have.

Step 3 Translation

Each document translation will be assigned to our professional translator who has experience in the relevant field. Translation accuracy is the most priority we concerned; hence we will match a linguist with qualified education background and appropriate field in the mega Scribers’ translator pool. By doing thing, we can ensure the quality and efficiency of work. Step 4 Quality Check by Linguists

Once your document has been translated, it will go to the next process- proofreading and editing. Our proofreader will scrutinize the accuracy and appropriateness of the translated document to ensure the flawless translation in the foreign language.  Meanwhile, our editor will compare the source document word by word to ensure the consistency in both documents. Editors and proofreaders have to pass a series of stringent test regularly and each of them is highly respected in the relevant industry. At Scribers, we offer the free unlimited free re-editing service; in this way, we are confident to guarantee you a 100% satisfaction.

Step 5 Layout Editing & Cosmetic Checks by Engineers

In this stage, your translated document is nearly 90% of complementation. After the step 4 is completed and if you are happy with it, the DTP engineer will transfer the content on to the required layout and ensure the translated work without word segmentations. Our desktop engineers are extremely efficient and meticulous and able to deliver high quality work that is in line with your required layout and style.

Step 6 Project Delivery

At Scribers, our project managers control every detail in the whole process of document translation. Under the tight time frames and high stress level, they guide the team to execute the work in an accurate manner and stick on the Scribers’ ABC principle of service excellence. We commit each document translation you assign to us will be delivered within the deadlines and surpass your expectations. Meanwhile, we appreciate to get feedbacks in return; indeed, we believe your comment is the source to make us stronger and better in the near future!

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