Malay Timed Text Style Guide
This document covers the language specific requirements for Malay. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements section and related guidelines for comprehensive instructions surrounding timed text deliveries to Netflix.
- Avoid using abbreviations unless it is a term of address or an abbreviation which also appears in speech (see below) and do not abbreviate for the sake of space.
- “En.” for Encik, “Pn.” for Puan and “Dr.” for Doktor are acceptable.
- "Nak" (from "hendak"), "tak" ("tidak"), "dah" ("sudah") "takkan" ("tidak akan") are acceptable.
- Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: BBC, CIA, USA, UK
3. Character Limitation
- 42 characters per line
4. Character Names
- Do not translate proper names (e.g. Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
- Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
- Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g. Santa Claus).
- When including ellipses in subtitles, please use the single smart character (U+2026) as opposed to three dots/periods in a row.
- Do not use ellipses when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles:
Subtitle 1 Ini ialah kawasan rekreasi
Subtitle 2 yang sangat terkenal.
- Use ellipses to indicate a pause (2 seconds or more), abrupt interruption. In case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues in the next subtitles, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.
Subtitle 1 Saya rasa…
Subtitle 2 awak sukakan saya.
Subtitle 1 - Apa yang awak sedang…
Subtitle 2 - Tolong diam!
- Use ellipses without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence:
…telah menandatangani surat itu.
- Speaker’s title: only translate the title. Do not include the speaker’s name, company name or character name as these are redundant.
- Only translate a speaker’s title once, the first time the speaker appears.
- When ongoing dialogue is interrupted by a speaker’s title, use ellipsis at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence in the subtitle that follows it.
- Dialogue in TV/movie clips should only be subtitled if plot-pertinent and if the rights have been granted.
- News tickers/banners from archive clips do not require subtitles unless plot-pertinent.
- Avoid going back and forth between italicized and non-italicized subtitles when the speaker is on and off screen. If the speaker is on-camera for at least part of the scene, do not italicize. Leave italics for off-screen narrators.
7. Dual Speakers
- Use a hyphen followed by a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle, with a maximum of one speaker per line.
- Text in each line in a dual speaker subtitle must be a contained sentence and should not carry into the preceding or subsequent subtitle. Creating shorter sentences and timing appropriately helps to accommodate this.
- Kau ada dokumen itu?
8. Font Information
- Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportional SansSerif.
- Font size: Relative to video resolution and ability to fit 42 characters across the screen.
- Font color: White.
9. On-screen Text
- Forced narrative titles for on-screen text should only be included if plot-pertinent.
- When on-screen text and dialogue overlap, precedence should be given to the most plot-pertinent message. Avoid over truncating or severely reducing reading speed in order to include both dialogue and on-screen text.
- The duration of the FN subtitle should as much as possible mimic the duration of the on-screen text, except for cases where reading speed and/or surrounding dialogue takes precedence.
- Forced narratives that are redundant (e.g. identical to onscreen text or covered in the dialogue) must be deleted.
- Forced narratives for on-screen text should be in ALL CAPS, except for long passages of on screen text (e.g. prologue or epilogue), which should use sentence case to improve readability.
- Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle.
- When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, use an ellipsis at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence that follows it:
Subtitle 1 Saya rasa kita perlu…
Subtitle 2 (FN) DILARANG MASUK
Subtitle 3 …pergi dari sini.
10. Foreign Dialogue
- Foreign dialogue should only be translated if the viewer was meant to understand it (i.e. if it was subtitled in the original version).
- When using foreign words, always verify spelling, accents and punctuation, if applicable.
- Foreign words should be italicized, unless they have become part of regular usage (e.g. in English, the following no longer need to be italicized: bon appétit, rendezvous, doppelgänger, zeitgeist, persona non grata) and unless they are proper names (e.g. a company name).
- Italicize the following:
- Album, book, film and program titles (use quotes for song titles)
- Foreign words (unless they are part of regular usage)
- Dialogue that is heard through electronic media, such as a phone, television, or computer
- Only use italics when the speaker is not in the scene(s), not merely off screen or off camera
- Song lyrics (if rights have been granted)
- Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.
12. Line Treatment
- Maximum two lines.
- Text should usually be kept to one line, unless it exceeds the character limitation.
- Numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out: satu, dua, tiga, etc.
- Numbers above ten should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
- When a number begins a sentence, it should always be spelled out.
- Note that the above rules may be broken due to space limitations or reading speed concerns, as well as for consistency when listing multiple quantities, for example.
- Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.
- Symbols like %, &, can be used only if limited space is available. Otherwise they must be spelled out (e.g. peratus)
- Quotes should be used at the start and end of a line of applicable dialogue and not at the start of every subtitle.
- Use double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations.
- Use single quotation marks (‘ ‘) for quotes within quotes: "Steve yang kata begitu: 'Semuanya OK.'"
- Use quotation marks when a character is seen to be reading aloud
- Punctuation should be included within the quotation marks if the quote is an independent clause and outside if it’s not.
- Ali berkata, “Kawasan itu sangat cantik dan menenangkan jiwa.”
- Dia memanggil budak itu sebagai “Si gemuk”.
15. Reading Speed
- Adult programs: 17 characters per second
- Children’s programs: 13 characters per second
- Do not translate words or phrases repeated more than once by the same speaker.
- If the repeated word or phrase is said twice in a row, time subtitle to the audio but translate only once.
- Only subtitle plot-pertinent songs if the rights have been granted.
- Opening and ending theme songs should only be subtitled if clearly plot-pertinent (e.g. for children’s content when the lyrics tell a story) or if instructed by Netflix. Normally, adult programs should not have the opening songs subtitled, except for SDH.
- Italicize lyrics.
- Use an uppercase letter at the beginning of each line.
- Use ellipsis when a song continues in the background, but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.
- Punctuation: only question marks and exclamation marks should be used at the end of a line - no commas or periods. Commas can be used within the lyric line, if necessary.
- Main titles: do not subtitle the on-screen main title card.
- Episode titles: do not subtitle episode titles if they do not appear on screen/are not voiced-over. If on-screen (either as part of the principal photography or burned into video) or voiced-over, please reference the KNP tool for approved translations.
- Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, leave titles in the original language.
19. Special Instructions
- Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
- Always match the tone of the original content, while remaining relevant to the target audience (e.g. replicate tone, register, class, formality, etc. in the target language in an equivalent way)
- Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
- Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot-pertinent.
- Please always use correct Malay spellings for words such as tahu, mahu, beritahu. Never use Indonesian spellings such as tau, mau, beritau.
- Use of slang, regional dialect, and emotive elements should be avoided.
When the word “black” appears in reference to someone’s race or ethnicity, capitalize it in translation as Hitam. Use this form when referring to an African American or Black person, when referring to the African diaspora and when referring to collective groups or institutions, e.g. when terms like Black cinema/filem orang kulit Hitam, the Black community/komuniti kulit Hitam, a Black person/warga kulit Hitam appear in the source text or audio.
20. Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) Guidelines
- Include as much of the original content as possible.
- Do not simplify or water down the original dialogue.
- Where content has been dubbed into Malay, please refer to the dubbing script or dubbed audio as the basis for the SDH file and ensure that the two match as much as reading speed and timings allow.
- Reading speed can be increased to:
- Adult programs: 20 characters per second
- Children’s programs: 17 characters per second
- Truncating the original dialogue should be limited to instances where reading speed and synchronicity to the audio are an issue.
- For TV/movie clips, all audible lines should be transcribed, if possible. If the audio interferes with dialogue, please give precedence to most plot-pertinent content.
- All same-language audible songs that do not interfere with dialogue should be titled, if the rights have been granted.
- Use song title identifiers when applicable - song titles should be in quotes: [lagu "Forever Your Girl" bermain], or, if someone is seen playing the song, [lagu "Forever Your Girl" dimainkan]
- Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
- Use brackets [ ] to enclose speaker IDs or sound effects.
- Identifiers/sound effects should be all lowercase, except for proper nouns.
- Only use speaker IDs or sound effects when they cannot be visually identified.
- When a speaker ID is required for a character who has yet to be identified by name, use [lelaki], [wanita], or [suara lelaki], [suara wanita] or use a more gender-neutral identifier such as, [pembaca berita], [doktor], [jurujual] where appropriate, so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
- Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [muzik rock bermain], [muzik jazz lembut bermain di radio], if someone is seen switching on the music on the radio [muzik jazz lembut dimainkan di radio]
- Plot-pertinent sound effects should always be included unless inferred by the visuals.
- Subtitle silence if plot-pertinent. For example, when plot-pertinent music ends abruptly.
- Be detailed and descriptive, use adverbs where appropriate when describing sounds and music, describe voices, speed of speech, volume of sounds.
- Describe the sounds and audio as opposed to visual elements or actions.
- Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:
Subtitle 1: Sejak kebelakangan ini, saya…
[batuk, sedu] or [terbatuk-batuk, tersedu-sedu]
Subtitle 2: …lihat semakin banyak hal seperti ini.
- Speaker IDs and the corresponding dialogue should ideally be on the same line.
- Never italicize speaker IDs or sound effects, even when the spoken information is italicized, such as in a voice-over.
[pencerita] Pada suatu ketika dahulu, terdapat...
- In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
- If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [dalam bahasa Sepanyol] or, if space is limited, [bahasa Sepanyol]
- If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [berbual bahasa Sepanyol] or, if space is limited, [berbual/berbahasa Sepanyol]
- Always research the language being spoken – [berbual bahasa asing] should never be used
For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:
- Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu @ DBP: http://prpm.dbp.gov.my/
- Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - localized examples added
- Revised section 17 Songs - 6th bullet point edited regarding inclusion of a space when punctuating lyrics
- Revised section 7 Dual Speakers - 2nd bullet point added
- Revised section 11 Italics - 8th bullet point added regarding poetry
- Revised section 12 Line Treatment - 2nd bullet point added
- Revised section 14 Quotation marks - 4th bullet point added regarding reading aloud
- Revised section 19 Special Instructions - 7th bullet point added
- Revised section 1 Abbreviations - section reworded
- Revised section 5 Continuity - 1st bullet point added to clarify type of ellipsis permitted
- Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet reworded for clarity
- Revised section 1 Abbreviations - 1st bullet point amended
- Revised section 19 Special Instructions - line about matching tone added
- Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - line about ensuring SDH and dubs of the same audio match added
- Revised section 9 On-screen Text - section header revised for clarity
- Revised section 6 Documentary - 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points added
- Revised section 9 Forced Narratives - 2nd and 3rd bullet points added, 5th bullet point revised
- Revised section 13 Numbers - 4th and 5th bullet points revised
- Revised section 16 Repetitions - 1st point revised for clarity
- Revised section 17 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
- Revised section 18 Titles - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
- Added section 20 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity