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Bulgarian Timed Text Style Guide

This document covers the language specific requirements for Bulgarian.  Please make sure to also review the General Requirements section and other related guidelines for comprehensive instructions surrounding timed text deliveries to Netflix.

1. Abbreviations

  • Mr.: Г-н
  • Mrs.: г-жа
  • Dr.: д-р

2. Acronyms

  • Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: Би Би Си, ЦРУ, САЩ.

3. Character Limitation

  • 42 characters per line

4. Character Names

  • Proper names should be transliterated. Do not translate unless approved translations are provided by Netflix.
  • Nicknames should be transliterated. Only translate if the nickname conveys a specific meaning relevant to viewers.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters.

5. Continuity

  • 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   Отидох до магазина
Subtitle 2   да купя яйца.

  • Use ellipses to indicate a pause (2 seconds or more) or an abrupt interruption:

Subtitle 1   Мислех си, че…
Subtitle 2   Недей да мислиш!

  • In the case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, use ellipses at the beginning of the second subtitle.  

Subtitle 1   Имам чувството…
Subtitle 2   …че това не е краят.

  • Use an ellipses without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence:

…и продължаваме с програмата.

6. Documentary/Unscripted

  • Only translate a speaker’s title once, the first time the speaker appears.
  • When ongoing dialogue is interrupted by a speaker’s title, use an 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

  • If two characters speak in one subtitle, use a hyphen followed by a space to denote the second speaker only, with a maximum of one character 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.

 Идваш ли?
- Да, гълъбче.

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.
  • When the title of a movie, book, etc or the name of a theater, café, etc appear in FNs, quotations should be used.
  • 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 in the subtitle that follows it.

Subtitle 1   Отидох до месарницата
Subtitle 2   МЕСАРНИЦА
Subtitle 3   за телешко.

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).
  • Familiar foreign words and expressions, such as bon appétit, rendezvous, doppelgänger, zeitgeist, persona non grata, should be transliterated.
  • Unfamiliar foreign words and phrases should be either translated (if meant to be understood) or transliterated and italicized, depending on the creative intent.

11. Italics

  • Italicize the following:
    • 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)
    • Voice-overs
  • For books, films and program titles do not use italics - quotation marks should be used instead:

Хайде сега, "Моби Дик" е страхотна книга.

  • Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.
  • Please note that Bulgarian letters change slightly when italicized: Лейди и Скитника becomes Лейди и Скитника. This is correct and not a corruption.

12. 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.

13. Numbers

  • Numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out.
  • 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.
  • Numbers with five or more digits should be written with a space (not with a comma) after every three digits from right to left.
  • For time measurement, the 24-hour format is usually used. The 12-hour format needs additional expressions like "in the morning", "in the afternoon", "in the evening".


  • 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 double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations.
  • Use single quotation marks (' ') for quotes within quotes.
  • Use double quotation marks when a character is reading aloud.
  • Both Bulgarian quotation marks („ “) and regular quotation marks (“ ”) are acceptable, as long as used consistently within a show.
  • Punctuation should be included within the quotation marks if the quote is an independent clause and outside if it’s not.
  • If the punctuation within the quote is different than the punctuation of the main sentence, both punctuation symbols must be present.
  • 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.

15. Reading Speed Limits

  • Adult programs: Up to 17 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: Up to 13 characters per second

16. Repetitions

  • 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.

17. Songs

  • 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.
  • Follow this advice for poetry.

18. Titles

  • Main titles: do not subtitle the main title
  • 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, please translate if plot relevant, or transliterate.

19. 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. 
  • Do not write formal pronouns with a capital letter, as subtitles are considered an artistic work.
  • The word "God" present in popular phrases (e.g. „За бога!“), when it is not used in a religious context, is written with a small letter.
  • 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.
  • Popular abbreviations written in the Latin alphabet are allowed but not preferred, if they can be avoided and transliterated instead.

                   Ходих на DJ парти.
                   Ходих на диджей парти.

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 Bulgarian, 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 limits can be increased to:
    • Adult programs: Up to 20 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: Up to 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:
    ["Forever Your Girl" playing]
  • 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 a speaker ID is required for a character who has yet to be identified by name, use [man] or [woman], or [male voice] or [female voice], 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. rock music playing over a stereo).
  • Sound effects should be plot-pertinent.
  • Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:

              Subtitle 1: However, lately, I've been
                              [coughs, sniffs]

              Subtitle 2:  seeing a lot more of this.
  • Never italicize speaker IDs or sound effects, even when the spoken information is italicized, such as in a voice-over:

                  Once upon a time, there was

  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [in Spanish]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [speaking Spanish]
    • Always research the language being spoken – [speaking foreign language] should never be used

21. Reference

  • Официален правописен речник на българския език. С., БАН, Просвета, 2012 год.

Change Log:


  • Revised section 15 Reading Speed and 20 SDH - sections edited to mention "reading speed limits" and "up to"


  • Revised section 18 Titles - "do not subtitle the main title" added, section edited


  • Revised section 18 Titles - rules added/edited to include main title translations


  • Revised section 14 Quotation marks - 1st bullet point rephrased for clarity



  • Revised section 7 Dual Speaker - 2nd bullet added
  • Revised section 12 Line treatment - 2nd bullet added
  • Revised section 14 Quotations - 4th bullet added regarding reading aloud
  • Revised section 17 Songs - 7th bullet added regarding poetry


  • Revised section 5 Continuity - clarification added regarding type of ellipsis permitted
  • Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - revised wording in 3rd bullet point




  • Revised section 6 Documentary - 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points added
  • Revised section 9 Forced Narratives - 2nd, 3rd and 6th bullet points added, 5th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 10 Foreign Dialogue - 3rd bullet point revised
  • Revised section 13 Numbers - 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points revised
  • Revised section 14 Quotes - 4th and 6th bullet points added
  • 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
  • Revised section 19 Special Instructions - 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points added
  • Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity
  • Section 21 Reference added



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