Welcome to the Netflix Partner Help Center. Have a question or need help with an issue? Send us a ticket and we'll help you to a resolution.

French Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Abbreviations

  • Monsieur: M. (with period)
  • Madame: Mme (no period)
  • Mademoiselle: Mlle (no period)
  • Maître: Me (no period)
  • Professeur: Pr (no period)
  • Docteur: Dr (no period)
  • minute: min (not mn)
  • Abbreviated forms:
    • In the singular as well as in the plural form, in front of the name or title of the people mentioned.
  • Full form without capitalization should be used:
    • When used on their own (without being followed by a name, title or function)
        • J’ai déjà rencontré monsieur lors d’une soirée.
    • When used to address somebody directly (in dialogue, speeches, letters, etc.)
        • Je vous écoute, madame.
    • When used as a respectful form of address
        • Comment va madame votre mère ?
    • When used as a noun
        • Tu connais ce monsieur Albert ?
  • Full form with capitalization should be used:
    • In honorary titles established by history
        • Madame Mère.
    • When they are the first word of a title (book, publication, film, etc.)
        • En 1857, paraissait Madame Bovary.
    • Terms of address and titles should not be abbreviated unless it is required due to a lack of space:
        • Incorrect: Merci, M. le Gouverneur.
        • Correct: Merci, monsieur le gouverneur.
        • Correct, if not enough space: Merci, M. le gouverneur.

2. Acronyms

  • Acronyms should be written without periods or spaces between letters: BBC, USA, unless confusion is possible with the target language (e.g. L.A. for Los Angeles)
  • Do not use accents if 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 may need the plural form following the French accent rules (e.g. les ovnis).

3. Brand Names
[This does not apply to Canadian French]

  • Only use brand names (e.g. BMW, Facebook) when they are directly relevant to the plot.
  • In all other cases, replace the brand name with a generic term (e.g. fancy car, social network).

4. Character Limitation

  • 42 characters per line

5. 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. Guillaume le Conquérant, père Noël), unless Netflix provides instructions to do otherwise (e.g. Santa Claus may be preferred over père Noël in some specific projects).
  • Carry through any diacritics used in names and proper nouns from languages that use the Latin alphabet where their use is seen in official sources, or in the source text for fictional names.
  • For example, Spanish names such as Mónica Naranjo, Pedro Almodóvar and Alejandro G. Iñárritu should retain their diacritics. Any proper names that have lost the use of accents due to cultural reasons (e.g. Jennifer Lopez) do not need them added.
  • Transliterate uncommon or unfamiliar letters/characters which appear in names or proper nouns when working from one Roman alphabet language to French 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).

6. 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   Je me disais bien

Subtitle 2   que tu finirais par comprendre ! 

  • Use an ellipsis 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   Si j’avais su

Subtitle 2   je ne t’aurais pas appelé. 

Subtitle 1   - Mais j’allais te dire

Subtitle 2   - Je ne veux pas le savoir !

  • Use an ellipsis followed by a non-breaking space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence. 

… ont signé un accord.

7. 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         J’ai travaillé sur ce film


Subtitle 3        pendant six mois.

  • 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.

8. 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.

For example, try to avoid:

Subtitle 1: J'étais sur le point de te le dire,
Subtitle 2: - mais il m’en a empêché.
                  - Ça ne me surprend pas.

Subtitle 1: J'étais sur le point de te le dire,
                  mais il m’en a empêché.
Subtitle 2: Ça ne me surprend pas.

9. 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

10. 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, epilogue, letters, long text messages, book excerpts), which should use italics and 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         Je crois qu’on devrait


Subtitle 3        rebrousser chemin.

11. 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. doppelgänger, zeitgeist, persona non grata, homerun, sushi) and unless they are proper names (e.g. a company name) or if any confusion is possible with the target language (e.g. date).
  • In specialized content where frequent foreign terminology is used (e.g. cooking shows or contests) italics are not needed.

12. 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
    • Song lyrics (if rights have been granted)
    • Recited poetry
    • Voice-overs
    • Music notes
      • C'est un concerto en do mineur.
  • Only use italics when the speaker is not in the scene(s) (e.g. flashback, narration, distorted sound), not merely off screen or off camera.
  • Additionally: Italics are not needed for subtitle events that belong to a dialogue continuing the previous scene or anticipating the following scene.
  • Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.

13. Job titles and professional functions

  • The feminine form for job titles and professional functions should be used for female characters, unless the historical and social context requires otherwise.
  • While there is no general rule on the feminine form for job titles, there can be different ways of using it:
    • Mark the feminine with the article, the adjective or the verb while keeping the same form in masculine as in feminine: e.g. "architecte", "artiste", "juge", "secretaire", "comptable", "garde”, "gendarme", "diplomate", “ministre”, “maire”.
    • The same goes for substantives ending with an “o”: “une dactylo”, “une imprésario”, “une soprano”.
    • Jobs ending with “-eur” be changed into “-euse” or “-eure”.
    • Note: the feminine form “-esse” can be considered outdated ( “contrôleuse”, “docteure”, “professeure”).
    • Jobs ending with “-teur” can use the feminine form “-teuse” (“toiletteuse”, “acheteuse”) or “-trice” (“réalisatrice”, “créatrice”).
  • Also:
    • Écrivain > Écrivaine
    • Chef > Cheffe
  • Exceptions:
    • Agent > Agent
    • Auteur > Auteure or Autrice (both are acceptable)

14. Line Treatment

  • Maximum two lines.
  • 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.
  • Two lines may be used to improve readability even if the character limit has not been met/exceeded.

15. Numbers

  • From 1 to 10, numbers should be written out: un, deux, trois, etc.
  • Above 10, numbers should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
  • When a number begins a sentence, it should always be spelled out.
  • There may be exceptions to the above rules, e.g. numerals can be used if:
    • it is a date (2 janvier, 27 avril)
    • a sentence begins with a long number (e.g. “937 cas” so as to avoid “neuf cent trente-sept cas”)
    • 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:
    • In cases that require a decimal separator, use a comma as a decimal separator: 2,50
  • Indicate time on a 24-hour basis, using spacing as follows: 

Il est 14 h [space]

Il est 14h10 [no space]

  • A four-digit number should have a space, unless it is a year.

Il y avait 1 900 soldats en 1940.

  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot-relevant.
  • Units and symbols should be separated from the preceding figure with a non-breaking space (200 kg, 15 %).
  • Currencies should be spelled out (e.g. 3 000 pesos). Exceptions can be made for €, $, £ symbols only, if there is not enough space (e.g. 3 000 €).

16. Punctuation

  • Parisian French:
    • Do not use semicolons (;)
    • There should be a space before interrogation and exclamation marks.
    • For colons, there should be a space before and after the punctuation mark.
    • Use a non-breaking space before % and currency signs: 2 % and 5 $
  • Canadian French:
    • There should be no space before interrogation and exclamation marks or semicolons.
    • For colons, there should be a space before and after the punctuation mark.
    • Use a space before % and currency signs: 2 % and 5 $

17. Substitutions

  • In the case of words being deliberately bleeped in the original audio (e.g. for comedic purposes):
    • If it is possible to identify the affected term, include the initial letter of the word followed by three asterisks. Example: 
      • Il l’a envoyé se faire f***.
    • If the affected term is not identifiable, include three hyphens in place of the bleeped term. Example: 
      • C’est un --- de la pire espèce.


  • Quotes should be used at the start and end of a line of applicable dialogue, at the start of every subtitle, at the start and end of the last subtitle:

Subtitle 1 "Je suis hypocondriaque,

Subtitle 2  "j'ai tout le temps peur de mourir

ou de ne plus pouvoir m'exprimer.

Subtitle 3 "Je n'arrive pas à me projeter

dans le futur."

  • Use double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations:

Il m’a dit : "Reviens demain." 

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

"Il a dit : 'Tout va bien.'" 

  • Punctuation should be included within the quotation marks if the quote is an independent clause and outside if it’s not. See the following examples:

Il dit souvent : "Je m’en occuperai un jour."

Elle aime lire des "romans à suspense".

"Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ignore."

  • Use quotation marks when characters are reading aloud (on-screen or off-screen).
  • 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.

19. Reading Speed Limits

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

20. 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.
  • When two characters repeat the same thing simultaneously, time the subtitle to the audio, and just translate the term/phrase once without a hyphen.

21. 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 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 titles should be in italics.
  • Song titles should be in quotation marks.
  • Citations from songs and poems should be in quotation marks.

22. Titles

  • Main titles: Subtitle the on-screen main title for branded content when the approved title for French 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 French are identical and fully match. (e.g. the on-screen title is already in French, both read with the exact same words and spellings, etc.)
  • Subtitle when the approved title for French 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 Don't Look Up but the approved title for French is Don't Look Up : Déni cosmique)
  • 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.

23. Special Instructions

  • Always use accents on capital letters, whether the sentence is in all caps or in mixed case.
  • Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible. To give viewers a truly immersive experience, subtitles should render the vernacular and reflect the original creative intent.
  • 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).
  • Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot-pertinent.
  • A capital letter is only necessary when designating a person by their nation, e.g. un Français, their continent, e.g. une Européenne, or their city, les Parisiens. When using substantives that denote race, e.g. "noir", using  lower case is recommended.
  • Character names may be left out, once they have been clearly established, to avoid unnecessary repetition and to improve reading speed.
  • 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.
  • French dialogue found in foreign language content should not be subtitled unless it is unintelligible. For example, English content subtitled into French should omit subtitling dialogue that is already in French as part of the plot.

24. 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 French, 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: [musique : "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 [homme], [femme] or [garçon], [fille], [voix masculine], [voix feminine], [médecin], [présentatrice] so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative. Try to find gender-neutral identifiers where appropriate.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [musique rock] or [musique jazz douce à la radio]
  • 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: Cependant, ces derniers temps…

                  [tousse, renifle]

Subtitle 2: … j'en vois davantage.

  • 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.

    [narrateur] Il était une fois…

  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [en espagnol]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [parle espagnol]
    • Always research the language being spoken – [parle une langue étrangère] should never be used

25. Reference

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


Change Log:


  • Revised sections 19 Reading Speed and 24 SDH - sections edited to mention "reading speed limits" and "up to"


  • Revised section 22 Titles - "for branded content"


  • Revised section 2 Acronyms - all bullets edited
  • Revised section 5 Character Names - example edited in 3rd bullet, 6th bullet edited
  • Revised section 8 Dual Speakers - new example added
  • Revised section 10 On-screen Text - 6th bullet expanded 
  • Revised section 11 Foreign dialogue - new examples added to 3rd bullet, 4th bullet added
  • Revised section 12 Italics - "recited poetry" added
  • Revised section 15 Numbers - bullets 4 and 5 edited and expanded, 8th/9th/10th added
  • Revised section 16 Punctuation - 1st bullet amended to state no semicolons should be used
  • New section added 17. Substitutions - subsequent sections renumbered accordingly
  • Revised section 22 Titles - rules added/edited to include main title translations
  • Revised section 23 Special Instructions - 9th bullet point added


  • Revised section 1 Abbreviations - bullets after the initial examples have all been added
  • Revised section 5 Character names - 5th bullet added about uncommon Latin characters and when to transliterate them
  • Revised section 14 Line treatment - 2nd bullet about keeping text on one line has been deleted, 3rd bullet added


  • Revised section 10 On-Screen Text - 5th bullet point edited
  • Revised section 12 Italics - 9th and 10th bullets moved down the list and edited
  • Revised section 17 Quotes - 7th bullet point added
  • Revised section 14 Line Treatment - 3rd bullet point added
  • Revised section 22 Special Instructions - 8th bullet point added
  • Revised section 23 SDH Guidelines - 10th and 11th bullet points added



  • Revised section 6 Continuity - 4th bullet point revised regarding mid-sentence pick-ups
  • Revised section 7 Documentary/unscripted - example in 3rd bullet point edited
  • Revised section 10 On-screen text - example in 7th bullet point edited



  • Revised section 6 Continuity - 1st bullet added clarifying type of ellipsis permitted
  • Revised section 22 SDH Guidelines - 3rd bullet reworded




  • Revised section 1 Abbreviations - 7th bullet point added, additional examples provided for clarity
  • Revised section 16 Quotes - example provided for 1st bullet point
  • Revised section 18 Repetition - 3rd bullet point added
  • Revised section 23 Reference - source and link updated


  • Revised section 10 On-screen Text - revised section header for clarity


  • Revised section 1 Abbreviations - 1st bullet point revised
  • Revised section 7 Documentary - 3rd, 4th, and 5th bullet points added
  • Revised section 10 Forced Narratives - 2nd and 3rd bullet points added, 5th bullet point revised
  • Added section 13 Line Treatment
  • Revised section 14 Numbers - 4th and 7th bullet points revised
  • Revised section 15 Punctuation - revised and rewritten for clarity
  • Added section 16 Quotes - rewritten for clarity
  • Revised section 17 Reading Speed - words per minute removed
  • Revised section 18 Repetitions - 1st point revised for clarity
  • Revised section 19 Songs - 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 20 Titles - 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
  • Revised section 22 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity
  • Revised section 23 Reference - source and link updated


  • Revised section 18 Songs - 5th bullet point revised
  • Revised section 19 Titles - 1st bullet point revised, 2nd bullet point added
  • Revised section 20 Special Instructions - 5th bullet point removed



Was this article helpful?
134 out of 136 found this helpful