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Finnish Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Abbreviations

  • Herra: hra
  • Rouva: rva
  • Neiti: nti
  • Professori: prof.
  • Tohtori: tri
  • For other common abbreviations: http://www.kotus.fi

2. Acronyms

  • 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. joulupukki).
  • Transliterate uncommon or unfamiliar letters/characters which appear in names or proper nouns when working from a Roman alphabet language into Finnish 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).

5. Continuity

  • When including ellipses in subtitles, please use the single smart character (U+2026) as opposed to three dots/periods in a row.
  • Use a hyphen when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles, unless other punctuation is present.

Subtitle 1   Hän opetti minulle -
Subtitle 2   paljon mahtavia juttuja.

Subtitle 1   Odotin innolla,
Subtitle 2   että näkisin sinut taas.

Subtitle 1   Hän sanoi:
Subtitle 2   "Odotin innolla,
                   että näkisin sinut taas."

  • In the case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, please use the same treatment as continuous subtitles. Do not use ellipsis.
  • Use ellipses to indicate an abrupt interruption or trail off, i.e. if the sentence does not continue in the next subtitle.

Subtitle 1   -Olin sanomassa
Subtitle 2   -En halua tietää!

  • Use ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence

säilyttäminen on totuutta tärkeämpää.

6. Documentary/Unscripted

  • 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 ellipses 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   Tein elokuvaa

Subtitle 2 (FN)       OHJAAJA

Subtitle 3  puoli vuotta.

  • Dialogue generally takes precedence over on-screen text.
  • If the on-screen text is widely understood in the target market, it can be left out in order to preserve subtitle flow and stay within reading speed.
  • 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 without a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle for the second line only, with a maximum of one character speaking 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.

Se ei ole valmis.


8. Font Information

  • Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportionalSansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 42 characters across 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.
  • If at all possible, try to avoid interrupting a line of dialogue with a forced narrative.
  • If interrupting the dialogue with a forced narrative cannot be avoided, use an ellipsis at the end of the sentence that precedes it and at the beginning of the one that follows it.

Subtitle 1         Meidän ei pitäisi


Subtitle 3        jatkaa pidemmälle.

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).

11. Italics

  • 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)
    • Voice-overs
  • 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.
  • 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

  • From 1 to 10, numbers should be written out: yksi, kaksi, kolme, etc.
  • Above 10, numbers 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.
  • Use a space to separate thousands: 10 000 not 10,000
  • Use a comma for decimals: 1,5 not 1.5
  • Use a full stop with times: kello 7.45 not 7:45 AM
  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.

14. Punctuation

  • Never omit punctuation when translating regular dialogue.
  • If necessary, use the following reference: http://www.kotus.fi


  • 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:

Hän sanoi: "Palaa huomenna."

  • Use single quotation marks (' ') for quotes within quotes:

Hän sanoi: "'Singing in the Rain' on lempibiisini."

  • Punctuation should be included within the quotation marks if the quote is an independent clause and outside if it’s not.
  • Song titles should be in quotes.
  • 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.

16. Reading Speed Limits

  • Adult programs: Up to 17 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: Up to 13 characters per second
  • In order to better meet the expectations of a Finnish audience, a condensed translation style is required. 
  • Subtitles should be merged as much as possible, e.g. when a character’s dialogue extends over several subtitles, and superfluous dialogue can be excluded; aim for equivalence rather than a verbatim rendering of the source. 
  • Avoid sequences of very short subtitles one after another.
  • Consider closing shorter gaps between subtitles. 
  • Character names can be left out once they have been clearly established. 
  • Do not include every single utterance (huh, yeah, well etc.) and always aim for idiomatic Finnish.

17. 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.

18. 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.
  • Use an uppercase letter at the beginning of each line.
  • Use an 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.
  • Album titles should be in italics.
  • Song titles should be in quotes.
  • Follow this approach for poetry also.

19. Titles

  • Main titles: Subtitle the on-screen main title for branded content when the approved title for Finnish is available in KNP/Terminology and it does not match the title which appears in the card. Do not translate the main title from scratch: always use the approved title provided.
  • Do not subtitle when the on-screen main title and the approved title for Finnish are identical and fully match. (e.g. the on-screen title is already in Finnish, both read with the exact same words and spellings, etc.)
  • Subtitle when the approved title for Finnish contains a part that is transliterated/translated/transcreated/edited and does not fully match the on-screen main title. (e.g. when the on-screen title is The Witcher but the approved title for Finnish is The Witcher – Noituri)
  • When the provided translation of the main title does not work with a line break in a way that fits within the limit, the maximum character count per line or maximum line limit can be exceeded. Do not split the provided translation into multiple subtitle events.
  • Do not italicize the main title event.
  • 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 original language. 

20. 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.
  • In order to better meet the expectations of a Finnish audience, a condensed translation style is required. 
  • Subtitles should be merged as much as possible, e.g. when a character’s dialogue extends over several subtitles, and superfluous dialogue can be excluded; aim for equivalence rather than a verbatim rendering of the source. 
  • Avoid sequences of very short subtitles one after another.
  • Consider closing shorter gaps between subtitles. 
  • Character names can be left out once they have been clearly established. 
  • Do not include every single utterance (huh, yeah, well etc.) and always aim for idiomatic Finnish.
  • Do not translate you literally when it is used in a general statement to mean "one" or "anybody":

If you train really hard, you will get good results

and become better over time.

Jos harjoittelet kovasti,

saat ajan myötä hyviä tuloksia ja edistyt. [incorrect]

Jos harjoittelee kovasti,

saa ajan myötä hyviä tuloksia ja edistyy. [correct]

  • There is no need to use future tense in Finnish, the simple present tense + a time expression referring to the future is enough.
  • Do not use niin to translate so when so is not followed by an adjective or an adverb, as in "I love you so".
  • 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.

21. 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 Finnish, 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" soi]
  • 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 [mies], [nainen] or [miesääni], [naisääni] so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Gender-neutral identifiers like [uutistenlukija], [lääkäri] or [myyjä] can be used where appropriate.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [rock-musiikki soi] or [pehmeä jazz-musiikki soi radiossa]
  • 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 transcribing spoken Finnish or heavy dialects, avoid verbatim transcription. Consider adding aspects of the speech (e.g. mä/sä, mie/sie) while keeping it otherwise grammatically correct. For example "Mä olen odottanut sua täällä aamuviidestä" instead of "Mä oon oottanu sua tääl aamuviiest." 
  • Specific spoken language/dialectal words (e.g. skole, dösä, rotvalli, tarakka, etc.) can and should be used in SDH when they appear in the audio.
  • Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:

Subtitle 1: Olen kuitenkin viime aikoina…

                  [yskähtää, niiskuttaa]

Subtitle 2: …nähnyt tätä paljon enemmän.

  • 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.

    [kertoja] Olipa kerran…

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

22. Reference

For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:


Change Log:



  • Revised section 19 Titles - "for branded content" added


  • Revised section 19 Titles - rules added/edited to include main title translations


  • Revised section 4 Character names - 4th bullet point added regarding transliteration of unfamiliar characters in proper nouns/names
  • Revised section 15 Quotation marks - 1st bullet rephrased for clarity




  • Revised section 7 Dual Speakers - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 12 Line Treatment - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 15 Quotation marks - 6th bullet point added regarding reading aloud
  • Revised section 18 Songs - 9th bullet point added regarding poetry






  • Revised section 9 On-screen Text - revised section header for clarity


  • Revised section 5 Continuity - 2nd bullet point added, 3rd bullet point revised
  • Revised section 6 Documentary - 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points added
  • Revised section 9 Forced Narratives - 2nd and 3rd bullet points added, 5th bullet point revised
  • Added section 12 Line Treatment
  • Revised section 13 Numbers - 4th and 8th bullet points revised
  • Added section 15 Quotes - rewritten for clarity, 4th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 16 Reading Speed - words per minute removed
  • Revised section 17 Repetitions - 1st point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 18 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 19 Titles - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
  • Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity 


  • Revised section 17 Songs - 5th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 18 Titles - 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 19 Special Instructions - 5th bullet point removed


  • Revised section 8.5 Continuity - 1st bullet revised




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