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Russian Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Acronyms

  • Acronyms should have no periods: ЦРУ, США, ООН

2. Character Limitation

  • 39 characters per line 

3. 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 plot relevant meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters.
  • For transliteration of proper names, please refer to guidelines and references listed in the references section.

4. 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      Я и не сомневался,
Subtitle 2      что ты со мной согласишься.

  • Use ellipses to indicate a pause (2 seconds or more) or an abrupt interruption. In the case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1      Дай-ка подумать
Subtitle 2      может, можно и по-другому поступить.

-Я давно хотел тебе сказать

-Не надо, я не хочу ничего знать!

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

            подписали соглашение.

5. 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 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          Этот фильм снимался

        Subtitle 2 (FN)   РЕЖИССЕР
        Subtitle 3          всего шесть месяцев. 

  • 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.

- Удачи!
- Спасибо!

7. Font Information

  • Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportional SansSerif.
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 39 characters across 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.
  • 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.

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).
  • Unfamiliar foreign words and phrases should be either translated (if meant to be understood) or left in the original language, depending on creative intent. If left in the original language, please italicize.
  • When using foreign words, always verify spelling, accents and punctuation, if applicable.

10. 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 album titles, book titles, film titles, TV show titles, song titles, titles of video game, etc. titles do not use italics - chevrons («») should be used instead.

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.

12. Numbers

  • Numbers from 1 to 10 in all declensions (все падежные формы) should be written out: один, два, три - одного, двух, трех, 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.
  • Time should be noted in the 24-hour format.
  • A comma is used as the decimal separator: 23,99.
  • Do not use a space between a number and the percentage sign, e.g. 25%. For percentages with single digit numbers, write out the word, e.g. три процента, трех процентов, etc.


  • 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 chevrons («») without spaces for regular quotations.
  • Double straight quotation marks ("") for quotes within 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.
  • Use chevrons («») without spaces for the following:
    • Names of literary, music and art works, bands, sports teams, tv shows.
    • For an in-depth look into use of chevrons for proper names, please consult: §129 at http://evartist.narod.ru/text1/20.htm
  • Question and exclamation marks should be included within the quotation marks if they only relate to the word(s) within the quotations, otherwise, they should be placed at the end of the entire phrase. Do not place identical punctuation marks inside and outside the quotations.

        Бойцы кричали «Вперед!»
        и рвались в атаку.

        Надоело мне ваше
        «За ответом приходите завтра»!

        Ты читал роман «Что делать?»

14. Reading Speed Limits

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

15. 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 insert only once. 

16. Songs

  • Only subtitle plot-pertinent songs if the rights have been granted. Please consult the Show Guide if available.
  • 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 ellipses 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.
  • Follow this approach for poetry also.

17. Titles

  • Main titles: Subtitle the on-screen main title for branded content when the approved title for Russian 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 Russian are identical and fully match. (e.g. the on-screen title is already in Russian, both read with the exact same words and spellings, etc.)
  • Subtitle when the approved title for Russian 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 I'm with the Band: Nasty Cherry but the approved title for Russian is Nasty Cherry: Мы — сила!)
  • 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 the original language.

18. Special Instructions

  • All plot-pertinent dialogue should be subtitled, and takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • Dialogue (including expletives) should be rendered as faithfully as possible, without using dialect or words that would otherwise introduce a level of obscenity not implied in the content.
  • 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.
  • Avoid splitting between two lines such cohesive elements of a phrase as (pro)noun + verb,  (pro)noun + adjective, etc. e.g. “они уехали”, “хороший парень”.
  • Due to space limitations, it is recommended to omit:
    • Interjections
    • Non-essential elements of a phrase, e.g. (I think, it seems, apparently, just - я думаю, по-моему, кажется, просто)
    • Possessive pronouns (my, his, her, our, etc.) when grammatically possible: e.g. I hurt my foot - Я поранил ногу
  • The use of the letter ё should be enforced in content for children under 13 years of age. For adult content, please adhere to the guidelines below:
    • For distinction between similar words with “е”, e.g. все-всё, небо-нёбо, летом-лётом, совершенный-совершённый, including between different forms of the same word, e.g. узнаем-узнаём
    • To indicate the correct pronunciation of rare and commonly mispronounced words, e.g. сёрфинг, флёр, твёрже, щёлочка, новорождённый
    • In proper names, specifically last names and names of places, e.g. Конёнков,  Киселёв, Неёлова, Денёв, Шрёдингер, Дежнёв, Олёкма
    • With the exception of the above, the use of the letter “ё” is discouraged.
    • Reference: The Russian Language Institute’s clarifications regarding the use of the letter “Ё” and phonetic emphasis: http://www.ruslang.ru/doc/bukva_jo.pdf?sid=11#pp11 (reprinted with commentary from Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации. Полный академический справочник. Под ред. В.В. Лопатина  — М.: Эксмо, 2006:   http://orthographia.ru/orfografia.php?sid=11#pp11
  • Profanity direction: Strictly do not use: хуй, пизда, ебать, блядь (incl. блять) and all derivatives. Replace with closest alternatives, but always make sure that the severity level is appropriate for the context and the audience. Refer to Netflix supplied documentation for more information.

  • 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) 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 Russian, 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: 
    • If the song title is in Russian: [играет песня «Вечно молодой»]
    • If the song title is in a language other than Russian: [играет песня 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 [мужчина], [женщина] or [мужской голос], [женский голос], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Gender-neutral identifiers like [диктор], [врач] or [консультант] can be used where appropriate.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [играет рок-музыка] or [по радио играет спокойный джаз].
  • 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: Однако в последнее время я…

                  [кашляет, шмыгает носом]

Subtitle 2: …вижу это намного чаще.

  • 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.

[голос за кадром] Много лет тому назад были…

  • Select the appropriate word for "narrator": e.g. "рассказчик" (storyteller), "голос за кадром" or "мужской/женский голос" (off-screen voice; "male/female voice")
  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [на испанском]
    • Ensure the appropriate word for "speaking" is used when describing that someone is speaking another language: [разговаривает на испанском], [разговаривают на испанском], [говорит на испанском], [говорят на испанском] or derivatives thereof
    • Always research the language being spoken – do not use [разговаривает на иностранном языке], [разговаривают на иностранном языке], [говорит на иностранном языке], [говорят на иностранном языке] or derivatives thereof

20. Reference

For style, grammar, spelling and punctuation topics not addressed in this style guide, please refer to the following resources:

  1. Розенталь Д.Э., Джанджакова Е.В., Кабанова Н.П. Справочник по правописанию, произношению, литературному редактированию — М: ЧеРо, 1999: http://evartist.narod.ru/text1/20.htm
  2. Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации. Полный академический справочник / Под ред. В.В. Лопатина. — М: АСТ, 2009.  http://orthographia.ru
  3. Мильчин А.Э., Чельцова Л.К. Справочник издателя и автора. —М.: ОЛМА-Пресс, 2003: Справочник издателя


Change Log:


  • Revised section 14 Reading Speed and 19 SDH - sections edited to mention "reading speed limits" and "up to"


  • Revised section 17 Titles - "for branded content" added


  • Revised section 17 Titles - rules added/edited to include main title translations


  • Revised section 13 Quotation marks - 1st bullet point reworded for clarity


  • Revised section 10 Italics - final bullet point edited to explicitly mention titles and expanded to include song titles
  • Revised section 11 Line Treatment - 3rd bullet point added 
  • Revised section 13 Quotes - 5th bullet point added
  • Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 9th bullet point added
  • Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - 10th and 11th bullet points added




  • Revised section 4 Continuity - 1st bullet added clarifying type of ellipsis permitted
  • Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet reworded



  • Revised section 10 Italics - 2nd bullet point revised


  • Revised section 8 On-screen Text - section header revised for clarity


  • Revised section 5 Documentary - 3rd, 4th and 5th bullet points added
  • Revised section 8 Forced Narratives - 2nd and 3rd bullet points added, 5th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 12 Numbers - 4th and 5th bullet points revised
  • Revised section 16 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 17 Titles - 2nd bullet points revised
  • Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity


  • Revised section 2 Character Limitation - 1st bullet point revised
  • Revised section 3 Character Names - 1st, 2nd and 3rd bullet points revised, 4th bullet point added
  • Revised section 4 Continuity - Examples added to 1st and 3rd bullet points, 2nd bullet point revised
  • Added section 5 Documentary
  • Revised section 6 Dual Speakers - 1st bullet point revised, example added
  • Revised section 9 Foreign Dialogue - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 10 Italics - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
  • Added section 11 Line Treatment
  • Added section 12 Numbers
  • Revised section 13 Quotes - 3rd and 5th bullet points revised, 6th bullet point removed
  • Revised section 14 Reading Speed - words per minute removed
  • Revised section 15 Repetitions - 1st bullet point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 16 Songs - 1st bullet point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 17 Titles - 1st bullet point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 2nd bullet point revised, 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points added
  • Added section 19 SDH Guidelines
  • Added section 20 Reference


  • Revised section 8 Foreign Dialogue - 1st bullet point revised
  • Revised section 13 Songs - 5th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 14 Titles - 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added

  • Revised section 15 Special Instructions - 4th bullet point removed




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