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Polish Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Abbreviations

  • Abbreviations (e.g. prof., nr, m.in.) should generally be avoided unless there are timing or space constraints

2. Acronyms

  • Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: BBC, CIA, USA

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. Santa Claus).
  • Transliterate uncommon or unfamiliar letters/characters which appear in names or proper nouns when working from a Roman alphabet language into Polish 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.
  • Do not use ellipses or dashes when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles.

Subtitle 1   Kompletnie nie rozumiem

Subtitle 2   twojej decyzji! 

  • 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, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1   Nie wiem

Subtitle 2   jak dam sobie radę. 

Subtitle 1   - Nie wiem

Subtitle 2   - Dasz sobie radę!

  • When a pause is shorter than 2 seconds, an ellipsis may still be used for stylistic reasons, e.g. to indicate a hesitation
  • Use ellipses without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence.

poprzedniego dnia.

6. Documentary/Unscripted

  • Speaker’s title: only translate the title. Do not include the speaker’s name.
  • 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         Pracowaliśmy nad tym filmem

Subtitle 2 (FN) PRODUCENT

Subtitle 3        przez sześć miesięcy.

  • 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 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.

- I co?

- Poczekaj. Daj mi chwilę.

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 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.
  • Standard italics rules apply in FNs also, and should be applied to words in all caps.
  • 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         Nie wiem


Subtitle 3        o co ci chodzi.

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:
    • Titles of books, periodicals, works of art, albums, songs, movies, TV shows, radio shows, video games, etc.
    • 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
  • For scenarios not covered by the above list, apply best judgement, following the rule that titles should be italicized but names/proper names should not (e.g. ship names)
  • Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.
  • In trailers, do not italicize dialogue from off-scene characters. Reserve italics usage for off-screen narrators.
  • If an off-screen narrator is the only speaker in a piece of content, e.g. a nature documentary, do not italicize the narration. Also follow this rule for trailers which only contain narration.

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: jeden, dwa, trzy, etc.
  • Above 10, numbers should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
  • For large numbers, words like tysiące, miliony, etc. can be spelled out (e.g. 15 tysięcy, osiem milionów).
  • 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.
  • Indicate time on a 24-hour basis, using spacing as follows: 

Jest godzina 14.

               Jest 14.15.

  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot-relevant.

14. Punctuation

  • Do not use a space before %, e.g. 2%
  • Use a space before currency symbols: 5 $
  • Use the typographic apostrophe (U+2019)


  • 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: „Czy widzisz Pański krzyż?
    • Subtitle 2: Nie chciałaś jadła, napoju?
    • Subtitle 3: Zostawże nas w pokoju”.
  • Use lower and upper double quotation marks („ ”) without spaces for regular quotations: 

Powiedział: „Nie teraz”.

  • Use inside chevrons (» «) for quotes within quotes:

„Powiedział: »Nie teraz«”.

  • Quotes should be used only at the start and at the end of a quote, not at the start of every subtitle.
  • See the following examples for the use of punctuation with quotes: 

Mawiał: „Jutro też jest dzień”.

Rozdział „Sztuka mówienia i pisania”.

„Być albo nie być, oto jest pytanie”.

„Nie wierzycie mi?”

„Jak śmiesz!”

Powiedział do nas: „To nie tak. Uwierzcie mi!”.

Powiedział do nas: „To nie tak. Uwierzycie mi?”.

Powiedział do nas: „To nie tak. Nie wierzycie mi”.

  • 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.
  • If a speaker imitates dialogue between several characters, use a separate set of quotes for each character’s line and do not add extra line breaks. For example:

Rozmawiali o jakimś filmie.

„Oglądałeś już?” „Tak, wczoraj”.

16. Reading Speed Limits

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

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 and poetry

  • 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 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.
  • Album and song titles should be in italics.
  • For poetry, follow the punctuation of the original poem and do not italicize.
  • If lines from poems or songs are quoted within a sentence, do not italicize and adapt the punctuation to fit the sentence.

19. Titles

  • Main titles: Subtitle the on-screen main title for branded content when the approved title for Polish 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 Polish are identical and fully match. (e.g. the on-screen title is already in Polish, both read with the exact same words and spellings, etc.)
  • Subtitle when the approved title for Polish 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 Becoming but the approved title for Polish is Becoming: Moja historia)
  • 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 the main title or episode title is shown on-screen and voiced over at the same time, only subtitle the voice-over.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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. Positioning

  • Please ensure subtitles are positioned accordingly to avoid overlap with on-screen text. In cases where overlap is impossible to avoid (text at the top and bottom of the screen), the subtitle should be placed wherever it is easier to read.
  • Subtitles may also be raised to avoid overlap with mouths, faces and important action happening in the lower third of the screen, as long as it helps the viewer and does not create subtitles which jump up and down too much in sequence.
  • Where subtitles are raised, avoid creating sequences where subtitles jump up and down. If one or two subtitles could be positioned on the bottom in a series of raised subtitles, raise those as well.

22. Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) Guidelines

  • Include as much of the original content as possible.
  • Plot-pertinent sound effects should always be included unless inferred by the visuals.
  • Only use speaker IDs or sound effects when they cannot be visually identified.
  • Do not simplify or water down the original dialogue.
  • For non-Polish language original content:
    • If the Polish localized audio uses lip-sync dubbing, create the SDH file based on the dubbed audio. Keep the same translation as much as possible, adapting it to the guidelines and requirements of SDH, timing subtitle events to the Polish audio. Approach the task in the same way as creating an SDH file for Polish-language content.
    • If the Polish localized audio uses lector dubbing, create the SDH file based on the non-SDH Polish subtitles. Keep the same translation as much as possible, adapting it to the guidelines and requirements of SDH, timing the subtitle events to the original audio. Add elements which have been omitted in the non-SDH subtitles (e.g. speaker IDs, sound labels). If the source text has been condensed without leaving out significant information, there is no need to rewrite the translation to make it more verbatim. If the translation contains errors, they should be corrected in the SDH file.
  • 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 italicized: [piosenka 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.
  • When characters are not yet identified, use [mężczyzna], [kobieta] or [głos męski], [głos żeński], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative. Try to find gender-neutral identifiers where appropriate. Use gender-specific identifiers for women when appropriate for the tone and content of the show.
  • In some cases, e.g. when a character's name is revealed late into a movie but is not part of a plot twist, names can be used in speaker IDs before they are introduced in the dialogue, as long as it does not cause spoilers.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [muzyka rockowa], [spokojna muzyka jazzowa z radia], [w oddali - dźwięki fortepianu].
  • 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: Niemniej ostatnimi czasy…


Subtitle 2: …zdarza się to coraz częściej.

  • When a descriptor pertains to part of a sentence, do not use elllipses:

Niemniej ostatnimi czasy zdarza się to

[szeptem] coraz częściej.

  • 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. Italicize song titles within identifiers.

[narrator] Za siedmioma górami i siedmioma lasami…

[piosenka Dziwny jest ten świat]

  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [po hiszpańsku]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [po hiszpańsku] or [mówi po hiszpańsku]
    • Use the longer version with the verb when there is a need to indicate which character is speaking. Use the shorter version when it is obvious who is speaking.
    • Always research the language being spoken – [mówi w obcym języku] should never be used

23. Reference

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


Change Log:


  • Revised sections 15 Quotations and 18 Songs - references to use of quotation marks in song titles removed, please refer to section 11 Italics to determine approach for song titles


  • Revised section 1 Abbreviations - section reduced, stating to only use abbreviations in exceptional circumstances
  • Revised section 5 Continuity - penultimate bullet added confirming that ellipses may still be used in pauses of under 2 seconds if a hesitation needs to be indicated
  • Revised section 6 Documentary/Unscripted - 1st bullet edited
  • Revised section 9 On-screen Text - 6th bullet added confirming that italics may be used in all caps in FNs
  • Revised section 11 Italics - section reworded, please review closely (text tweaked in updated on 08/04/24)
  • Revised section 13 Numbers - 3rd bullet point added
  • Revised section 14 Punctuation - 3rd bullet point added (text shortened in update on 08/04/24)
  • Revised section 15 Quotes - first example replaced with a Polish-language example, final bullet point added
  • Revised section 18 Songs - "poetry" added to section title, last two bullets edited to cover poetry
  • Revised section 19 Titles - penultimate bullet added covering titles which are on-screen and voiced at the same time
  • New section added 21 Positioning - subsequent sections renumbered accordingly
  • Revised section 22 SDH Guidelines - 2nd and 3rd bullet points moved up higher in list, points covering song title italics edited, minor edits to rules covering speaker ID placement, new examples added


  • Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet point added regarding how to handle SDH on content dubbed into Polish vs. lectored, 4th bullet re dub scripts removed in place of the new bullet point


  • Revised sections 16 Reading Speed and 21 SDH - sections edited to mention "reading speed limits" and "up to"


  • 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 point rephrased for clarity




  • Revised section 7 Dual speakers - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 12 Line treatment - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 15 Quotations - 8th bullet point added
  • Revised section 18 Songs - 9th bullet point added


  • Revised section 5 Continuity - 1st bullet added clarifying type of ellipsis permitted
  • Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet reworded



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


  • 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 6th bullet points 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 14 Quotes - 5th bullet point revised


  • 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 - 4th bullet point removed




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