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Localization Best Practices (Nonfiction Content) 


This article provides best practice ideas and options in solving commonly encountered localization challenges for nonfiction content (documentaries and unscripted). It is not a substitute for Audio/Timed Text Style Guides. Please always refer to the style guides for language/asset specific requirements. If you have specific concerns or encounter an instance that requires further attention, please seek advice from your Netflix Representative.

Note: All dubbing for documentaries & unscripted content should be voiced over/VO (aka "UN-style") unless otherwise discussed with your Netflix representative. Please refer to Dubbed Audio Style Guide - VO-Style Dubbing. For Lector dubbing, please refer to Dubbed Audio Style Guide - Lector Dubbing.

Music, Song Treatment

  • Songs should be translated and included in the forced narrative file (not dubbed) only if plot pertinent and if the rights have been granted.
    NO need to add dub/sub for non-plot-pertinent songs.
  • For SDH, please adhere to the English SDH Style Guide for all audible songs regardless of plot-pertinence.

Brand Names Treatment

  • Treatment can be handled in one of the following ways:

    (A) use the same English-language brand name if it is widely known and used in that territory;
    (B) use the name that brand is known by in that territory;
    (C) use a generic term for the product.

    What should be avoided is swapping out some other company's name or trademarked item.

TV/Movie/Historical Clip Treatment

  • Historical/Archive footage: DO NOT dub; instead cover instances with subtitles only to ensure the historic and creative intent of these clips are maintained.
    • Anything historical and filmed outside of the film/series itself is typically considered archival material. Examples of commonly used archival material are: Recorded audio from confessions/phone calls, TV news footage, court footage, speeches from political figures or activists, etc
  • Dialogues in TV/Movie clips should be translated and subbed only if plot-pertinent.
  • For SDH, please adhere to the English SDH Style Guide for all audible dialogues in TV/Movie clips regardless of plot-pertinence.

Onscreen Text Treatment

  • Please refer to the Language Timed Text Style Guides
  • Netflix Original Credits - Use Netflix approved translations provided in the Originals Credit Translations document.
  • Burnt-in text, on-screen text messages, quotes or forced narratives - please translate and subtitle/FN for all languages unless redundant in the target language. Please DO NOT dub for these instances.
    • It is okay to translate/dub in Lector dubbing if able. Otherwise, please include in the accompanying forced narrative file. For additional information, please refer to Dubbed Audio Style Guide - Lector Dubbing.
    • News tickers/banners from news archive clips: Translations and subtitles are not required unless they are plot pertinent.
    • Newspaper headlines/highlighted excerpts from articles: Translate and subtitle in the forced narrative file. Include translations in the full subtitle file, as well, if/when dialogue allows.
      Exceptions: If the headline translation is covered within dialogue, do not translate/subtitle.
  • Audio Description files should convey all plot-pertinent on-screen text and subtitles.
  • Reminder: 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.

Foreign Dialogue Treatment

  • For the general guidelines on the treatment of foreign dialogue in subtitles and dubbing, please refer to the Timed Text Style Guides and VO Audio Style Guide.
  • Foreign dialogues should be translated and dubbed/subbed only if plot-pertinent (usually with forced narratives). If you are ever unclear what should or should not be covered, please inquire with your Netflix Representative.


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