Czech Timed Text Style Guide
This document covers the language specific requirements for Czech. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements section and other related guidelines for comprehensive instructions surrounding timed text deliveries to Netflix.
- Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: BBC, MTV, CIA, LSD, SMS, USA
2. Character Limitation
- 42 characters per line
3. Character Names
- Do not translate proper names (e.g. Peter, Suzanne), except where it’s a common practice to use a Czech equivalent (e.g. Alenka for Alice in Alice in Wonderland) or unless Netflix provides approved translations.
- Non-Czech real-life female surnames and names from languages with non-Latin alphabets should be transcribed and inflected in accordance with prevailing Czech usage (e.g. Angela Merkel/ová, Jennifer Aniston, Ariana Grande, Naděžda Tolokonnikovová, Džafar Panahí, Pong Čun-ho).
- Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
- Use language-specific translations for historical figures, monarchs, Biblical figures, mythical characters etc. (e.g. Tomáš Akvinský, královna Viktorie).
- Transliterate uncommon or unfamiliar letters/characters which appear in names or proper nouns when working from a Roman alphabet language into Czech if they may cause confusion or be hard to understand or pronounce. Note that diacritics should be kept in proper nouns and names. For example: If the Icelandic name Þór appears, please transliterate as Thór (following relevant KNP and guidance about handling character names). If a German street name such as Torstraße appears in the source, please transliterate as Torstrasse (following relevant KNP and guidance about handling character names).
- 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 ellipsis when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles:
Subtitle 1 Tak malej
Subtitle 2 a už chodí do baru.
- Use ellipsis to indicate a pause (2 seconds or more) or an abrupt interruption:
Subtitle 1 - Mně je nějak…
Subtitle 2 - No tak si lehněte!
- In the case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.
Subtitle 1 To je do pěti tisíc…
Subtitle 2 osm set.
- Use ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence:
…jsem vystoupil o stanici dřív.
- 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.
Subtitle 1 Pracoval jsem na tomto filmu…
Subtitle 2 (FN) REŽIE
Subtitle 3 …dobrých šest měsíců.
- 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.
6. 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.
- Co chceš?
- Počkej, dej mi chvilku.
7. 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.
8. 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 Nemyslím si, že bychom měli…
Subtitle 2 (FN) VSTUP ZAKÁZÁN
Subtitle 3 …jít dál.
9. 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.
11. Line Treatment
- Maximum two lines.
- Text should usually be kept to one line, unless it exceeds the character limitation.
- Prefer a bottom-heavy pyramid shape for subtitles when multiple line break options present themselves, but avoid having just one or two words on the top line.
- Numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out: jedna, dva tři, 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.
- A comma is used as the decimal separator: 23,99.
- Numbers with four or more digits should be written with a space (not with a comma) before the last three digits.
- Do not omit the 0 when noting fractions. (Correct: 0,123. Incorrect: ,123)
- A full stop differentiates between cardinal and ordinal numbers: 13 = thirteen, 13. = thirteenth
- Use quotation marks at the start of the quotation and after the last line of the quotation, marking the beginning and end of the quotation (rather than the beginning and end of every subtitle within the quotation), e.g.
- Subtitle 1: “Is this a dagger I see before me?
- Subtitle 2: The handle towards my hand.
- Subtitle 3: Come, let me clutch thee.”
- Use Czech quotation marks („ “) without spaces.
- Single Czech quotation marks (, ‘) for quotes within quotes e.g. „Charlie to řekl: ,Všecko je v pohodě.‘“
- Punctuation should be included within the quotation marks if the quote is an independent clause and outside if it’s not.
- Use quotation marks when a character is seen to be reading aloud.
- If an on-screen character does “air quotes” when speaking, please apply quotation marks to the equivalent word in the target language in order to retain creative intent and to help ensure clarity about which word or part of the sentence the air quotes apply to.
14. 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.
- Capitalization: same as for normal dialogue.
- Punctuation: same as for normal dialogue.
- Use ellipsis when a song continues in the background but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.
- Album titles should be in italics.
- Song titles should be in quotes.
- Follow this approach for poetry also.
- 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.
18. Special Instructions
- Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
- Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
- 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)
- Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot-pertinent.
- Place names should be localized, unless otherwise instructed.
- When brand names or trademarks appear, you may either; use the same name if it is known in the territory you are translating for; adapt to the name that the brand or product is known by that the territory you are translating for; or use a generic name for that product or item. Avoid swapping out names of brands, companies or famous people for other names.
19. Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH)
- Include as much of the original content as possible.
- Do not simplify or water down the original dialogue.
- Where content has been dubbed into Czech, 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: [hraje „Forever Your Girl“]
- Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
- Add a space between the music note and the preceding or subsequent text.
- When a dual speaker subtitle appears in a song, e.g. when there is a duet, each line of sung text should have a music note at the beginning and end to clearly indicate that both characters are singing.
- 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 characters are not yet identified, use [muž], [žena] or [mužský hlas], [ženský hlas] so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
- Role/job-specific identifiers may be used: e.g. [hlasatel] or [hlasatelka], [doktor] or [doktorka], [obchodník] or [obchodnice].
- Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [hraje rocková hudba], [v rádiu hraje pomalá jazzová hudba], [z rádia: pomalý jazz] if space constraints apply.
- 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.
- When describing sounds, prefer substantives over verbs: Instead of "šeptá, pláče", prefer "šeptání, pláč". Prefer "kašlání/zakašlání, popotahování", "vrzání/zavrzání dveří" "ptačí zpěv/zpívání" rather than "dveře vrzají" "ptáci zpívají".
- Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:
Subtitle 1: V poslední době…
Subtitle 2: …to ale vídám čím dál častěji.
- 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.
[vypravěč] Bylo nebylo…
[vypravěčka] Bylo nebylo…
- Ensure the term [narrator] is correctly translated as [vypravěč] or [vypravěčka]
- In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
- If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [španělsky]
- If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [mluví španělsky]
- Always research the language being spoken – [mluví cizím jazykem] should never be used
- For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:
- Revised section 3 Character names - 5th bullet point added regarding transliteration of proper names/nouns with unfamiliar characters
- Revised section 13 Quotation marks - 1st bullet point edited for clarity
- Revised section 11 Line Treatment - 3rd bullet point added
- Revised section 13 Quotes - 6th bullet point added
- Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 6th bullet point added
- Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - 10th and 11th bullet point added
- Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - localized examples added
- Revised section 6 Dual Speakers - 2nd bullet point added
- Revised section 11 Line Treatment - 2nd bullet point added
- Revised section 13 Quotes - 5th bullet point added
- Revised section 16 Songs - 9th bullet point added regarding poetry
- Revised section 4 Continuity - 1st bullet added clarifying type of ellipsis permitted
- Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet point reworded
- Revised section 3 Character Names - all advice here re-worded and adjusted
- Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 3rd bullet point added
- Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet point added
- Revised section 3 Character Names - 1st and 4th bullet point revised, 3rd bullet point added
- Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 4th bullet point added
- Revised section 8 On-screen text - revised from former header
- Revised section 5 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 12 Numbers - 4th and 5th bullet points revised
- Revised section 15 Repetitions - 1st point revised for clarity
- Revised section 16 Songs - 2nd bullet point added, 4th and 5th bullet points revised
- Revised section 17 Titles - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
- Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - expanded for clarity