Castilian & Latin American Spanish
This document covers the language specific requirements for Castilian & Latin American Spanish. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements Section and other related guidelines for comprehensive instructions surrounding timed text deliveries to Netflix.
- The use of abbreviations should be avoided unless there are space limitations.
- Some of the most common abbreviations are the following: Sr., Sra., Srta., Dr., Dra., Ud., Uds., km, cm, m.
- Abbreviations of personal titles (e.g. Sr., Dra.) should only be used if they precede a proper noun: Sr. González, Dra. Juana.
- The proper abbreviation for Estados Unidos is EE. UU. The acronym EUA is also accepted (as per RAE).
- For a more detailed clarification on abbreviation rules: http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=abreviatura
- For a complete list of abbreviations: https://www.rae.es/dpd/ayuda/abreviaturas
- Acronyms (siglas) are written without periods or spaces: ONU, FBI
- Do not use accents if they are written in all caps: CIA, OTAN
- Acronyms that are pronounced the way they are written (i.e. not spelled) should be capitalized (e.g. Unicef, Unesco) if they are proper names and have more than four letters. If they are common nouns and have become part of the daily lexicon (e.g. ovni, sida) they are written in lowercase; if this is the case, they need accents following the Spanish accent rules (e.g. láser).
- For a more detailed clarification on acronyms: https://www.rae.es/dpd/sigla
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. Alejandro Magno, María Antonieta, Poseidón, Papá Noel, San Nicolás), unless Netflix provides instructions to do otherwise (e.g. Santa Claus may be preferred over Papá Noel in some specific projects).
- Always use accents and diacritics in names and proper nouns as needed, (e.g. Plácido Domingo) including in fictional character names and those of foreign names (e.g. Antônio when used as a Portuguese name).
- When Spanish legal proper names have lost the use of the accents due to cultural reasons, write the names without the accents (e.g. Jennifer Lopez). This is especially relevant for unscripted titles.
- Add a space in abbreviated proper names (e.g. J. K. Rowling).
Transliterate uncommon or unfamiliar letters/characters which appear in names or proper nouns when working from one Roman alphabet language to Spanish 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).
- 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 Algunos tenemos que pensar
Subtitle 2 en esas cosas.
- Use an ellipsis to indicate a pause (2 seconds or more), that is, an intentional or accidental suspension of a part of the sentence, or an abrupt interruption.
Subtitle 1 No sé… tengo que pensarlo.
- In the case of a pause (2 seconds or more), if the sentence continues into the next subtitle, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle, unless the pause (2 seconds or more) was caused by an interruption.
Subtitle 1 Me pasa algo raro…
Subtitle 2 pero no puedo decirte nada.
Subtitle 1 - Te iba a decir que…
- ¡No quiero saberlo!
Subtitle 2 …ya firmé el divorcio.
- Use an ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence
…pero tienes que venir ahora
- 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.
- As indicated in section 5 (Continuity) above, only when ongoing dialogue is interrupted by a speaker’s title, or another character's dialogue, 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 He trabajado en esta película…
Subtitle 2 (FN) DIRECTOR
Subtitle 3 …unos seis meses.
- 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.
- ¿No te gusta?
- No, no me gusta.
- Text in each line in a dual speaker subtitle should ideally be a contained sentence and should not carry into the preceding or subsequent subtitle. Creating shorter sentences and timing appropriately helps to accommodate this.
For example, try to avoid:
Subtitle 1: Estuve a punto de decírtelo,
Subtitle 2: - pero el abogado me lo impidió.
- No me sorprende.
Subtitle 1: Estuve a punto de decírtelo,
pero el abogado me lo impidió.
Subtitle 2: No me sorprende.
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 (e.g. Budapest). Note that similar spelling (e.g. Paris/París) is not considered identical nor redundant and the appropriate FN version for the target language should be included
- Forced narratives for on-screen text should be in ALL CAPS and no period at the end of the text, except for:
- Instant messaging, chats, text messages (e.g. SMS, WhatsApp) which should stay in ALL CAPS but follow current Spanish punctuation rules.
- Long passages of on screen text (e.g. prologue, epilogue, etc.), which should use sentence case to improve readability.
- Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle. If both appear at the same time and there is not enough room, dialogue takes precedence.
- 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 Creo que no deberíamos…
Subtitle 2 (FN) PROHIBIDA LA ENTRADA
Subtitle 3 …seguir avanzando.
- Hyphens are to be avoided as a word separator in FNs when a more idiomatic preposition or punctuation could be used in Spanish:
Instead of: SIRIA - 1925
Prefer: SIRIA (1925)
Instead of: RÍO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL - 1942
Prefer: RÍO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL (1942)
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 with some exceptions as defined in the italics section below.
- In specialized content where frequent foreign terminology is used (e.g. cooking shows or contests) italics are not needed.
- Italicize the following:
- Works of art (e.g. sculptures, paintings), album, book, film, video games and program titles (use quotation marks for song titles).
- Foreign words, unless they are proper names (e.g. a company name) or part of regular usage (e.g. sushi, pizza). This is not always in line with official regulatory recommendations. Thus, linguists should follow their best judgement, taking into account that italics should not interfere with legibility.
- 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. Additionally, italics are not needed for subtitle events that belong to a single continuous sentence, divided by a shot change, in which the speaker is not in the scene before the shot change, but is visible after the shot change.
- Song lyrics (if rights have been granted).
- Recited poetry.
- Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.
12. Line Treatment
- Keeping text on one line is preferred, unless it exceeds the character limitation, corresponds to dialogue from different characters or there is specific creative intent as in the following FN example:
DIRECTORA DEL COLEGIO
- Maximum two lines.
- A pyramid structure is preferred where possible
- Line two should be longer than line one if the subtitle is bottom-positioned
- Line one should be longer than line two if the subtitle is top-positioned
- Lines should be broken by syntactic unit as outlined in the General Requirements guidelines
- From 1 to 10, numbers should be written out: uno, dos, tres, etc. Above 10, numbers should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
- When a number begins a sentence, it should generally be spelled out.
- There may be exceptions to these two rules, e.g. numerals can be used if a) it is a date (2 de enero, 27 de abril), b) a sentence begins with a long number (e.g. “937 casos” so as to avoid “novecientos treinta siete casos”) or, c) there are reading speed considerations.
- 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.
- Four digits numbers should not use spaces or separators: 2000 dólares.
- Five digit numbers should be written out with a non-breaking space: 50 000.
- In cases that require a decimal separator:
- For Castilian Spanish, use a comma: 2,50
- For Latin American Spanish, use a period as a decimal separator: 2.50
- Measurements should be converted to the International System of Units (SI), unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.
- Units and symbols should be separated from the preceding figure with a non-breaking space (2000 kg, 15 %).
- When times need to be represented in numerical format, use a colon to separate the digits, as explained below:
- For Castilian Spanish, follow the 24-hour system format (e.g. 18:00)
- For Latin American Spanish, mirror the source format but follow Spanish orthography, including a space, for a. m./p. m. (e.g. 18:00 or 6:00 p. m.)
- Currencies should be spelled out unless there is not enough space, in which case the currency symbol can be used:
- For Castilian Spanish:
3000 euros or 3000 €
- For Latin American Spanish: 3000 dólares or $3000
- The $ symbol should only be used for American dollars if needed. Other currencies should be spelled out
- For Castilian Spanish:
- Do not use semicolons, punto y coma (;).
- Do not use exclamation and question marks together (?!), please pick the one that suits the intonation or the meaning best.
¡¿Cómo dices?! SHOULD BE ¿Cómo dices? OR ¡Cómo dices!
- A period should never follow a closing question/exclamation mark.
- For vocatives and dependent sentences/clauses, please follow the RAE recommendation:
Raquel, ¿sabes ya cuándo vendrás?
¿Sabes ya cuándo vendrás, Raquel?
- Dependent clauses/sentences:
Para que te enteres, ¡no pienso cambiar de opinión!
¡No pienso cambiar de opinión, para que te enteres!
- No comma is necessary when pero precedes an exclamatory or interrogative sentence following the RAE recommendation:
Pero ¿dónde vas a estas horas?
Pero ¡qué barbaridad!
- For censored words, if it is possible to identify the affected term, include the initial letter of the word followed by an ellipsis. If the affected term is not identifiable, include the ellipsis on its own within rounded brackets. In some cases, it is acceptable to omit the censored reference if doing so helps reading speed. Examples:
- ¡Es un hijo de p…!
- Vino a buscarme el (…) de tu marido.
- For specific details on punctuation, please check: http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=signos%20ortogr%C3%A1ficos
15. Quotation Marks
- Use double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations:
Él me dijo: "Regresa mañana".
- Single quotation marks (' ') for quotations within quotations:
Él dijo: "'La Bamba' es mi canción favorita”.
- In Spanish, the period at the end of a sentence always comes after the closing quotation marks:
"A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda".
- When a sentence includes a quoted sentence which ends with a question or an exclamation mark, a period must be added after the quotation mark:
Me preguntó: "¿Me quieres?".
- Song titles should be in quotation marks.
- Use quotation marks when characters are 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.
- Citations from songs and poems should be in quotation marks.
Cantó: "Reloj, no marques las horas"
y nunca llegó a la cita.
- Quotation marks should be used at the start and end of whole quotations and not in each subtitle that makes up a quotation (this is also the case for direct speech). However, quotation marks should be added at the start and end of subtitles where complete new quotations are included in subsequent subtitle events said by the same speaker.
Subtitle 1 ¿Recuerdas aquel poema?
Subtitle 2 "Verde que te quiero verde.
Subtitle 3 Verde viento.
Subtitle 4 Verdes ramas".
Subtitle 1 Son cosas que todos sabemos:
Subtitle 2 "El sabio no dice nunca todo lo que piensa,
Subtitle 3 pero siempre piensa todo lo que dice".
Subtitle 4 "La alabanza propia envilece".
16. Reading Speed
- Adult programs: 17 characters per second.
- Children’s programs: 13 characters per second.
- 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.
- 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.
- Follow regular Spanish punctuation and capitalization rules as follows:
¿Cuándo te darás cuenta
de que Viena te espera?
Dame otra oportunidad
para ver el sol nacer.
- Use ellipses when a song continues in the background, but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.
- Album titles should be in italics.
- Song titles should be in quotation marks.
- Main titles: do not subtitle the on-screen main title card.
- 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, including translations for Netflix shows and films. 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.
- For Latin American Spanish, avoid regionalisms and follow a neutral linguistic approach for interlingual subtitles.
- 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, neutralize or water down the original dialogue.
- Intralingual subtitles for Spanish original content are expected to include regionalisms as needed to faithfully represent the original dialogue.
- Deliberate or inconsequential misspellings, mispronunciations and grammatical errors found in the audio (e.g. "pa qué", "bailao", etc.) should not be reproduced in SDH unless plot-pertinent.
- Where content has been dubbed into Spanish, 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 can be increased to:
- Adult programs: 20 characters per second.
- Children’s programs: 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 quotation marks:
[suena "Forever Your Girl"]
[suena "La vida es un carnaval" de Celia Cruz]
- Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle. Punctuation and capitalization should follow current Spanish rules. For example:
♪ Dame otra oportunidad
para ver el sol nacer. ♪
- 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.
- Sound effects from characters should be written in the present tense (e.g. tose, silba, llora) while sound effects from the scene use a noun (e.g. silbido, disparo, llanto).
- 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 [hombre] or [mujer], or [voz hombre] or [voz mujer], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
- Speaker IDs should include a number if there is more than one unidentified character in a scene, e.g. [mujer 1], [mujer 2]. Counting should restart with the scene change.
- Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music (e.g. [suena música de rock en un televisor])
- Sound effects should be plot-pertinent.
- 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.
- Subtitle silence if plot-pertinent. For example, when plot-pertinent music ends abruptly.
- Plot-pertinent sound effects should always be included unless inferred by the visuals.
- Speaker IDs and the corresponding dialogue should ideally be on the same line.
- Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:
Subtitle 1: Sin embargo, últimamente…
[tose y carraspea]
Subtitle 2: …no he vuelto a saber de él.
- Never italicize speaker IDs or sound effects, even when the spoken information is italicized, such as in a voice-over:
[narrador] Érase una vez una muchacha…
- In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
- If foreign dialogue is translated, use [en idioma], for example [en alemán]
- If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [habla idioma], for example [habla alemán]
- Always research the language being spoken - [habla idioma extranjero] should never be used
For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:
- Diccionario de la lengua española
- Diccionario panhispánico de dudas
- Ortografía de la lengua española
- Revised section 4 Character names - 7th bullet point added regarding transliterating unfamiliar characters in proper nouns/names
- Revised section 7 Dual Speakers - both bullets slightly edited
- Revised section 13 Numbers - first three bullets edited for clarity around numbering rules
- Revised section 15 Quotation Marks - 7th bullet point added
- Revised section 19 Titles - 3rd bullet point expanded
- Revised section 20 Special Instructions - 6th bullet point added
- Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - example after 10th bullet edits, 12th and 13th bullet points added, example after 27th bullet point edited
- Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - Bullets 21 to 26 added
- Revised section 4 Character names - 3rd bullet point revised and expanded
- Revised section 9 On-screen text - 8th bullet point added regarding FN punctuation
- Revised section 21 SDH guidelines - additional example added to 10th bullet point
- Revised section 22 References - links replaced with hyperlinks which will open in a new tab
- Revised section 15 Quotes - 8th and 9th bullets and examples updated
- Revised section 7 Dual speakers - 2nd bullet updated
- Revised section 10 Foreign Dialogue - 3rd bullet updated
- Revised section 11 Italics - 3rd and 7th bullets updated
- Revised section 13 Numbers - 10th bullet updated
- Revised section 15 Quotes - 7th bullet updated
- Revised section 14 Punctuation - revised and reworded 6th bullet point regarding representation of censored words
- Revised section 4 Character Names - wording in 5th bullet point revised
- Revised section 5 Continuity - 1st bullet added clarifying type of ellipsis permitted, 3rd bullet example revised, 4th bullet example revised
- Revised section 6 Documentary/Unscripted - 3rd bullet reworded
- Revised section 9 On-screen Text - 4th and 5th bullet revised
- Revised section 11 Italics - 2nd and 4th bullet revised, advice around flashbacks removed
- Revised section 12 Line Treatment - 1st, 3rd and 4th bullet points added
- Revised section 13 Numbers - 10th bullet added about times
- Revised section 14 Punctuation - 6th bullet point added
- Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - 4th bullet added, wording clarified in 5th bullet point, 10th edited, 17th added
- Revised section 10 Foreign Dialogue - 3rd and 4th bullet points revised
- Revised section 11 Italics - first two sub-headers of 1st bullet point revised
- Revised section 13 Numbers - final bullet on currencies revised
- Revised section 18 Songs - examples added to 4th bullet point
- Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet edited, example added for lyrics and clarifications made to 13th and 15th bullet points
- Revised section 1 Abbreviations - list of abbreviations added
- Revised section 2 Acronyms - 3rd and 4th bullet points edited
- Revised section 4 Character Names - 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points edited
- Revised section 5 Continuity - Revised wording around pauses in section section and removal of second ellipsis in pauses
- Revised section 10 Foreign Dialogue - Spanish examples added
- Revised section 11 Italics - Examples re-worded
- Revised section 13 Numbers - Examples re-worded, 8th, 9th and 10th bullet points edited and expanded
- Revised section 18 Songs - Change to advice around punctuation of lyrics, 3rd bullet point
- Revised section 20 Special Instructions - 3rd and 5th bullet points added
- Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - 3rd and 4th bullet points added, advice added about avoiding neutralizing dialogue, advice added about change to punctuation of lyrics, 12th bullet point added, 14th and 15th bullet points revised and Spanish examples added to whole section
- Revised section 22 References - Additional RAE added in 3rd bullet point
- Revised section 13 Numbers - 5th bullet point revised, 6th and 7th bullet point added
- Revised section 9 On-screen Text - revised from former header
- 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 18 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
- Revised section 19 Titles - 2nd bullet point revised
- Revised section 21 SDH Guidelines - expanded for clarity
- Revised section 1 Abbreviations – 2nd bullet point revised to add period to “Ud.” and “Uds.”, and comma between the two
- Revised section 1 Abbreviations – 3rd bullet point revised to add period to “Dra.”
- Revised section 1 Abbreviations – 4th bullet point revised to add acronym “EUA”
- Revised section 2 Acronyms – 3rd bullet point revised to add accent to “láser”
- Revised section 5 Continuity – 1st bullet point revised to fix spelling of “ellipsis” and remove “(3 dots)”
- Revised section 5 Continuity – 2nd bullet point revised to add spaces after hyphens in dialogue
- Revised section 13 Punctuation – 4th bullet point revised to remove italics from “Raquel”
- Revised section 13 Punctuation – 6th bullet point revised to add full link to punctuation article in DRAE
- Revised section 14 Quotes – 3rd bullet point revised to replace example
- Revised section 15 Reading Speed – “words per minute” removed
- Revised section 16 Repetitions – 1st bullet point revised for clarity
- Revised section 18 Titles – 1st bullet point revised for clarity
- Revised section 20 SDH Guidelines – 1st bullet point revised 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 – 4th bullet point removed