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Traditional Chinese Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Character Limitation

  • 16 characters per line

2. Character Names

  • If approved translations of proper names (e.g. Peter, Suzanne) are not provided, please transliterate.
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g. Santa Claus = 聖誕老人).
  • When introducing a cast member in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: John Smith - Director = (導演 約翰史密斯)
  • When introducing an actor in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: Vivien Leigh - Scarlett O’Hara = (費雯莉飾演郝思嘉 )
  • Do not use Chinese middle period separator (·) between first name and last name.

3. Continuity

  • Do not use ellipses or dashes when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles.

Subtitle 1 我需要知道

Subtitle 2 發生了什麼事

  • Use an ellipses to indicate a pause or an abrupt interruption. In the case of a pause, if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1 我需要知道發生⋯

Subtitle 2 不要問了

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


  • Do NOT use the following:
    • Four-dot ellipsis:


    • Three-dot Chinese ellipsis with an English period: 


4. 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 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.
  • Use Chinese parentheses for on-screen text.

Subtitle 1 我最愛海灘了,因為⋯

Subtitle 2 (導演)

Subtitle 3 ⋯在海裡游泳最好了

  • 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.

5. Dual Speakers

  • Use English hyphens without 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.

6. Font Information

  • Font style: SimHei as a generic placeholder for proportionalSansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 16 characters across screen
  • Font color: white

7. 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 should be enclosed in Chinese parentheses, except for foreign dialogue.
  • If the narrative is split between two or more subtitles, use parentheses at the beginning and end of each subtitle.
  • 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.
  • Use Chinese parentheses for on-screen text.

Subtitle 1 我最愛海灘了,因為⋯

Subtitle 2(導演)

Subtitle 3 ⋯在海裡游泳最好了

8. 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).
  • Foreign words or phrases should be translated when possible (i.e. hello, goodbye, thank you, merci) or transliterated when no accurate translation exists.

9. Italics

  • Do not use italics.

10. 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.

11. Numbers

  • Use half width numbers (1,2,3) instead of full width numbers (1,2,3).
  • Do not use a comma to separate the thousandth digit where there are only four digits.
  • Do not use financially used characters (壹, 貳, 參, etc) to represent rounded large numbers, use characters for common writing instead (e.g. 五千, 四十億).
  • Do not mix Western Arabic numerals with Chinese number characters:

[correct]           五千二百,四億三千萬

[incorrect]        五千2百,四億3千萬

[correct]           12、11、10、9、8、7…

[incorrect]        12、11、十、九、八、七…

  • Use Arabic numerals for apartment numbers, street numbers, phone numbers, measurements, chapter numbers, page numbers, addresses, time, flight numbers, dates.
  • For monetary amounts, use your best judgment to decide whether to use Chinese characters or numeric numbers depending on the circumstances (for example, the length of the subs). For instance, $1800 can be written as either 一千八百美元 or 1800美元.
  • For rounded times, use Chinese characters (e.g. 4 o’clock = 四點). For specific times like 4:12 pm, it should be written as 4點12分.
  • Do not use Western Arabic numbers for days of the week:

[correct]           星期二

[incorrect]        星期2

  • Do not abbreviate years (e.g. 她1992年來過).
  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.
  • Money: Do not convert currency to Taiwan or Hong Kong dollar (e.g. £20 > 20英鎊; ¢25 > 2角5分).

12. Punctuation

  • Only use full width Chinese punctuation, except for the hyphens in dual speakers subtitles or the periods in abbreviations (e.g. M.B.A.)
  • Enumeration commas can be used for lists (e.g.  "A、B、C").
  • Question marks are required to indicate questions.
  • Only question marks or exclamation marks are allowed at the end of a line/subtitle.
  • Do not use any type of periods.
  • A colon may be used to introduce an explanation or an example (e.g. 日期:1976年8月27日).
  • Use a full-width question mark or exclamation mark when necessary.
  • For ellipsis, please use unicode U+2026 - it will display as a midline ellipsis in our platform. The unicode U+22EF is not supported.
  • Do not use:
    • A question mark with an exclamation mark (!?)
    • Double question marks (??)
    • Double exclamation marks (!!)


  • Use full width quotation marks.
  • Quotes: Double quotation marks (“”) without spaces.


  • Single quotation marks (‘’) for quotes within quotes.


  • When a quote carries over several subtitles, only use open and end quote at the beginning and end of the quote

Subtitle 1 我媽曾說:“人的一輩子就像一盒巧克力

Subtitle 2 你永遠不知道

Subtitle 3 你會挑到什麼口味”

  • When only a portion of a sentence is in quotes, the punctuation comes after the quotation mark.


  • When a whole sentence is in quotes, the punctuation mark comes before the quotation mark.


  • Use quotation marks when a character is seen to be reading aloud.
  • Use quotation marks for poetry.
  • 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 Limits

  • Adult programs: Up to 9 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: Up to 7 characters per second

15. Repetitions

  • Use continuation dots to express a repeated sentence, especially if it is too long.
  • 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 to ensure adequate reading speed.

16. 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.
  • Do not use italics or quotes for song lyrics.
  • Use ellipses when a song continues in the background but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.

17. Titles

  • Main titles: Subtitle the on-screen main title for branded content when the approved title for Traditional Chinese is available in KNP/Terminology and it does not match the title appeared in the card. Do not translate the main title from scratch: always use the approved title provided and wrap with title marks《》. Do not add parentheses.
  • When translating the on-screen main title, use the following format:


  • However, in instances where the episode title includes the chapter or episode number, "集名" can be excluded. For example:


  • Do not subtitle when the on-screen main title and the approved title for Traditional Chinese are identical and fully match. (e.g. the on-screen title is already in Traditional Chinese, both read with the exact same words and spellings, etc.)
  • Subtitle when the approved title for Traditional Chinese 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 Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition but the approved title for Traditional Chinese is 誰是接班人:ONE Championship)
  • 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.
  • When translating the on-screen episode title, use the following format:


  • Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, please transliterate.
  • The following titles should be in Chinese brackets: albums, films, songs, TV programs, newspapers, magazines, books, works of art, trilogies.


18. Special Instructions

  • All plot-pertinent dialogue should be subtitled, and takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • 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).
  • Please specify if the person spoken to is a female or male, an animal or supreme being for third-person pronouns. For example: 他、她、牠、祂、它 Always use the gender-neutral second-person pronoun "你", unless there are instructions included in the show guide.
  • Please refrain from using regional slangs, idioms or dialect (e.g. Hokkien, Fujian) that would not be widely understood by all territories with a Traditional Chinese preference.
  • When brand names or trademarks appear, you may either use the same name if it is known in the territory you are translating for (with the flexibility of using English terms), adapt to the name that the brand or product is known by in the territory you are translating for, or use a generic name for that product or item. Take note of the creative intent, especially if it’s genre- or content-specific. Avoid swapping out names of brands, companies or famous people for other names.
  • Please ensure subtitles are positioned accordingly to avoid overlap with on-screen text, mouths, faces and important action happening in the lower third of the screen. In cases where overlap is impossible to avoid (text at the top and bottom of the screen), the subtitle should be placed where it is easier to read. Refer to the positioning section of the template guidelines for more detail.

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 a Chinese dialect, 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.
  • Keep to 2 lines for dialogue, 3rd line may be used for descriptors.
  • 3 lines max for on-screen text, if necessary.
  • Character limit can be increased to 18 characters per line, as needed.
  • Reading speed limits can be increased to:
    • Adult programs: Up to 11 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: Up to 9 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 Chinese brackets/chevrons: [播放《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 [男], [女] or [男聲], [女聲], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Gender-neutral identifiers like [新聞播報員], [醫生] or [店員] can be used where appropriate.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [搖滾音樂] or [廣播電臺播放輕柔爵士樂]
  • 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: 然而,我最近⋯


Subtitle 2: ⋯越來越常見到這個

  • Speaker IDs and the corresponding dialogue should ideally be on the same line.

            [旁白]很久很久以前, 有個

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

20. References

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

Change Log:


  • Revised section 17 Titles - 3rd bullet point added with example


  • Revised section 11 Numbers - 1st bullet removed (rule about writing out Chinese numbers if space permits), additional example added to 4th bullet
  • Revised section 17 Titles - 1st bullet edited to remove references to brackets, 2nd bullet added to show main title format, 8th bullet example edited to show episode title formats without brackets
  • Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 4th bullet point regarding pronouns expanded, 6th bullet about brand names expanded, final bullet about positioning added
  • Revised section 20 References - 1st link replaced


  • Revised section 11 Numbers - examples edited in the 7th and 8th bullet points


  • Revised section 11 Numbers - 7th and 8th bullet points added confirming approach for numbers in monetary amounts and times of day
  • Revised section 17 Titles - 1st bullet point expanded to cover application of title marks in main titles, example in 7th bullet point edited to align with aforementioned rule


  • Revised sections 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, references to credits removed


  • Revised section 10 Line Treatment - 3rd bullet point added
  • Revised section 13 Quotes - 9th bullet point added
  • Revised section 18 Special Instructions - 6th bullet point added
  • Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - 13th and 14th bullet points added, examples edited throughout



  • Revised section 11 Numbers - 10th bullet point edited to include Hong Kong dollar





  • Revised section 7 On-screen Text - section header revised for clarity


  • Revised section 4 Documentary - 4th and 5th bullet points added
  • Revised section 7 Forced Narratives - 2nd, 3rd, and 6th bullet points added, 5th bullet point rewritten
  • Revised section 11 Numbers - 9th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 12 Punctuation - 8th bullet point added
  • Revised section 15 Repetitions - 2nd bullet point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 16 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 17 Titles - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bullet points revised
  • Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity


  • Revised style guide title from “Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) Timed Text Style Guide” to “Traditional Chinese Timed Text Style Guide”.
  • Revised Section 11 Numbers - 4th bullet point revised
  • Revised Section 18 Special Instructions - added the 4th bullet point regarding the usages of regional slangs
  • Revised Section 20 References - removed 1st reference link



  • Revised section 8 Foreign Dialogue - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised, 3rd bullet point removed
  • Revised section 12 Punctuation - 2nd and 3rd bullet points added
  • Revised section 17 Titles - 1st and 4th bullet points revised, 2nd bullet point added, 5th bullet point removed

2015-12-07 (Version 3.3 )

  • Revised section 21.1 Character Limitation
  • Revised section 21.2 Character Names - 1st, 4th and 5th bullet points revised. 6th bullet point added
  • Revised section 21.3 Continuity - 4th (last) bullet revised
  • Revised section 21.4 Documentary - 3rd bullet point revised
  • Revised section 21.6 Font Information - 2nd bullet point revised
  • Revised section 21.7 Forced Narratives - 5th (last) bullet point added
  • Revised section 21.11 Numbers - 4th bullet point revised. 5th and 7th bullet points added
  • Revised section 21.12 Punctuation - 1st bullet point added. 3rd bullet point revised
  • Revised section 21.13 Quotes - 4th bullet revised
  • Revised section 21.17 Titles - 2nd and 6th (last) bullet point added. 5th bullet point revised: (書名號) removed
  • Revised section 21.18 Special Instructions – 3rd (last) bullet point added




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