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Telugu Timed Text Style Guide

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

1. Abbreviations and Special Characters

  • Mr. - మిస్టర్ / శ్రీ
  • Mrs. - మిసెస్ / శ్రీమతి 
  • Miss - మిస్/కుమారి
  • Ms. – గారు
  • Dr. - డా.
  • Prof. - ప్రొ.
  • OK - సరే
  • etc. - మొదలగునవి / మొదలైనవి / యిత్యాది / మొ.
  • i.e. - అనగా
  • e.g. - ఉదాహరణకు / ఉదా.
  • a.m. - తెల్లవారుజామున / ఉదయం / తె. / ఉ.
  • p.m. - మధ్యాహ్నం / సాయంత్రం / రాత్రి / మ. / సా. / రా. /
  • BC - క్రీ.పూ. / క్రీస్తు పూర్వం
  • AD - క్రీ.శ. / క్రీస్తు శకం
  • Special characters should be spelled out:
    • # - నంబర్ / నంబరు / హ్యాష్ / హ్యాష్‌ట్యాగ్ / నం.
    • % - శాతం
    • + - కూడిక
    • x - రెట్లు / గుణకారము / హెచ్చువేత
    • - - తీసివేత
    • = - సమానం

2. Character Limitation

  • 42 characters per line

3. Character Names

  • Do not translate proper names (e.g. Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
  • If no approved translations are provided, please transliterate character names.
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.

4. 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 when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles:

Subtitle 1 నమ్మండి నమ్మకపోండి, ఇది సాధించడానికి

Subtitle 2 ఇంకా రెండు సంవత్సరాలు కష్టపడాలి.

  • 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, use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1 కాస్త ఆలోచించాలి…

Subtitle 2 …మనకు మరో మార్గం ఉండవచ్చు.

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

…మంచి బేరం కుదిరింది.

5. 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 an ellipsis at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence that follows it.
  • 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.

6. Dual Speakers

  • Use a hyphen 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.

-కాస్త తీసుకోండి.


7. Font Information

  • Font style: Gautami as a generic placeholder for proportional SansSerif.
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 42 characters across the screen.
  • Font color: White.

8. 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 on-screen text or covered in the dialogue) must be deleted.
  • 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 that follows it.

9. 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).

10. Italics

  • Do not use italics.
  • Use quotes instead for album, book, film and program titles:
    • I went to see Titanic in the theater today.
    • ఈరోజు “టైటానిక్” చూడడానికి థియేటర్‌కు వెళ్లాను.
    • Are you watching Love Story?
    • మీరు "లవ్ స్టోరీ" సినిమా చూస్తున్నారా?

11. 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.

12. Numbers

  • Numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out.
  • Numbers above 10 should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
  • 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.
  • For ordinal numbers, 1st - 9th are spelled out: ఒకటవ, రెండవ, మూడవ, తొమ్మిదవ
  • From 10th, ordinal numbers are written out numerically, followed by వ: 10వ, 12వ, 50వ
  • To express decades, the number is kept as a numeral and the word "decade" is translated as లలో: 20లలో, 30లలో, 40లలో
  • For decimals, use periods: 16.8
  • For large numbers, use commas: 50,000
  • For clock time, use colon: 8:30 / 20:30
  • For currency, do not use symbols. Instead, transliterate the word (dollar, pound, cent, rupee etc.): 10 డాలర్లు, 20 పౌండ్లు, 25 సెంట్లు

13. Punctuation

  • There should be no spaces after text and before punctuation marks.


  • Quotes should be used at the start and end of a line of applicable dialogue and not at the start of every subtitle.
  • Use double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations.
  • Use single quotation marks (' ') for quotes within quotes.
  • Direct speech is introduced by a comma.
  • 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.
  • Closing quotes follow the period:

అతడు పరధ్యానంగా ఏమన్నాడు అంటే,

"వద్దు, నాకు నచ్చదు."

15. Reading Speed Limits

  • Adult programs: Up to 22 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: Up to 18 characters per second

16. 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.

17. 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.
  • Use ellipsis 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.
  • Follow this approach for poetry

18. Titles

  • Main titles: do not subtitle the main title.
  • 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, transliterate the original title.

19. Special Instructions

  • Modern Standard Telugu should be used for translation. Please refrain from using dialectal words. When there is no alternative to the word in Modern Telugu, use the word closest in meaning.
  • Always use plot/genre pertinent language.
  • 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).
  • The use of transliterations should reflect the formality of the dialogue. For example, formal dialogue should not include colloquial transliterations.
  • Dialogue (including expletives) should be rendered as faithfully as possible, without using dialect or words that would otherwise introduce a level of obscenity not implied in the content.
  • Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
  • 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.

20. 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 Telugu, 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:
    • Adult programs: Up to 22 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: Up to 18 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: ["నీవు లేక వీణ" పాట వస్తోంది]
  • Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
  • Insert single space before the subtitle begins and after the subtitle ends: ♪ నీవు లేక వీణ ♪
  • Use brackets [ ] to enclose speaker IDs or sound effects.
  • 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 [పురుషుడు] or [స్త్రీ], or [పురుషుడి గొంతు] or [స్త్రీ గొంతు], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Gender-neutral identifiers like [న్యూస్ రీడర్], [డాక్టర్] or [దుకాణదారుడు] can be used where appropriate.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music, e.g. [రాక్ మ్యూజిక్ వినబడుతోంది] or [రేడియోలో చిన్నగా పాటలు వినబడుతున్నాయి].
  • 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:      ఈ రోజుల్లో…


Subtitle 2:      …అంతగా పని లేదు.

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

[వాయిస్ ఓవర్ / కథకుడు] ఒకానొక సమయంలో…

  • In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
    • If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [ఇంగ్లీషులో]
    • If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [ఫ్రెంచ్‌లో మాట్లాడుతున్నాడు]
    • Always research the language being spoken – [విదేశీ / పరాయి భాషలో] should never be used

21. Reference

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


Change Log:


  • Revised sections 15 Reading Speed and 20 SDH - sections edited to mention "reading speed limits" and "up to"


  • Revised section 18 Titles - "do not subtitle the main title" added, section edited


  • Revised section 18 Titles - rules added/edited to include main title translations


  • First edition of article published



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