Catalan Timed Text Style Guide
This document covers the language-specific requirements for Catalan. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements Section and other related guidelines for comprehensive instructions surrounding timed-text deliveries to Netflix.
1. Abbreviations and units
- The use of abbreviations (abreviatures) should be avoided unless there are space limitations. Some of the most common abbreviations include the following: Sr., Sra., Srta., Dr., Dra.
- Units of measurement do not end with a period, nor do they have a plural form: 1 km, 3 cm, 7 m.
- Abbreviations of personal titles (e.g. Sr., Dra.) should only be used if they precede a proper noun: Sr. Ferrer, Dra. Natàlia.
- For a more detailed clarification on abbreviation rules, see the ésAdir guidelines.
- For a comprehensive list of abbreviations, see this ésAdir list of abbreviations.
- Acronyms (sigles) are written without periods or spaces: EUA, FBI.
- Acronyms that are pronounced the way they are written (i.e. not spelled, acrònims) should be capitalized if they are proper names and have five or more letters (e.g. Unicef, Unesco). If they are common nouns and have become part of the daily lexicon (e.g. ovni, sida), they are written in sentence case and must follow Catalan accent rules (e.g. làser).
- For a more detailed clarification on acronyms, see this page of the Gramàtica essencial de la llengua catalana.
3. Character Limitation
- 42 characters per line.
4. Character Names
- Do not translate proper names (e.g. Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
- In informal contexts, proper names are preceded by a definite article: en/el (masculine), la (feminine), e.g. la Kate, l’Andrew.
- Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
- Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g. Plató, Elisabet II, Posidó, el Pare Noel, Sant Nicolau), unless Netflix instructs otherwise.
- Always use accents and diacritics in names and proper nouns as needed (e.g. Lluís Llach), including in fictional character names and those of foreign names (e.g. Antônio when used as a Portuguese name).
- When Catalan and 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, Cristina Domenech, Alex Brendemühl). This is especially relevant for unscripted titles.
- Add a space in abbreviated proper names (e.g. J. K. Simmons).
- Transliterate uncommon or unfamiliar letters/characters which appear in names or proper nouns when working from one Roman alphabet language into Catalan 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 periods in a row.
- Do not use ellipses or dashes when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles.
Subtitle 1 Cal pensar-hi,
Subtitle 2 en aquestes coses.
- 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.
No ho sé… m’ho he de pensar.
- 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 was caused by an interruption. When a sentence requires both an ellipsis and a comma, choose the most appropriate one for the context.
Subtitle 1 M’estan passant coses estranyes…
(2 seconds or more)
Subtitle 2 però no et puc explicar res.
Subtitle 1 - Et volia dir que…
- No vull que m’ho expliquis!
Subtitle 2 …ja he signat el divorci.
- Use an ellipsis without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence.
…però hauries de venir ja.
- As an exception, ellipsis may also be used to avoid the grammatically awkward break of a sentence in two subtitle events, even if the pause is under 2 seconds. Example:
Subtitle 1 Llavors…
Subtitle 2 no sé què dir-te.
- If a question continues from one subtitle into the next, an opening question mark should be used in the first subtitle.
Subtitle 1 ¿Per què li vas explicar
Subtitle 2 que jo l’havia enganyat?
- Speaker’s title in forced narratives (FNs): 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 treballat en aquesta pel·lícula…
Subtitle 2 (FN) DIRECTOR
Subtitle 3 …durant sis mesos.
- 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 t’agrada?
- No, no m’agrada.
- 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 Jo t’ho volia dir,
Subtitle 2 - però l’advocat no em va deixar.
- No em sorprèn gens.
Subtitle 1 Jo t’ho volia dir,
però l’advocat no em va deixar.
Subtitle 2 No em sorprèn gens.
8. Font Information
- Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportional sans serif.
- 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 on-screen 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 Catalan 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 Crec que hauríem…
Subtitle 2 (FN) PROHIBIT EL PAS
Subtitle 3 …de girar cua.
- Hyphens are to be avoided as a word separator in FNs when a more idiomatic preposition or punctuation could be used in Catalan:
Instead of: SÍRIA - 1925
Prefer: SÍRIA (1925)
Instead of: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL - 1942
Prefer: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL (1942)
- When applicable, forced narratives in Catalan should follow regular italics practices as described in the Italics section below.
FRANKENSTEIN DE MARY SHELLEY
10. Foreign Dialogue
- Dialogue in any language should only be translated if it is meant to be understood.
- 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:
- Titles of works of art (e.g. sculptures, paintings), albums, books, periodicals, films, TV/radio shows, video games, etc. (use quotation marks for song titles and episode titles).
- Foreign words, unless they are proper names (e.g. a company name or a vessel name) or part of regular usage (e.g. sushi, amateur). This is not always in line with official regulatory recommendations. Thus, linguists should follow their best judgment, taking into account that italics should not interfere with legibility.
- Dialogue that is heard through electronic media, such as a phone, television, computer, loudspeaker, non-sentient robots, robotic voices or AI, etc.
- 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 when sung, not quoted (if rights have been granted).
- Recited poetry.
- Voice-overs, narrations, the voice of a visible character expressing unspoken thought or inner monologue.
- Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.
- For a more detailed clarification on the use of italics, see the ésAdir recommendations.
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 DE L’ESCOLA
- Maximum two lines.
- A pyramid is preferred where possible.
- The second line should be longer than the first if the subtitle is bottom-positioned.
- The first line should be longer than the second if the subtitle is top-positioned.
- Lines should be broken by the syntactic unit as outlined in the General Requirements guidelines.
- From 1 to 20, numbers should be written out: dos, tretze, vint, etc. Above 20, numbers should be written numerically (21, 22, 23, etc.), except for cent and mil.
- 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 gener, 27 d’abril), b) a sentence begins with a long number (e.g. 937 casos so as to avoid nou-cents trenta-set 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.
- Numbers (nombres) with four or more digits should be written out with a period every three digits: 2.000 dòlars, 476.283 litres.
- A period should not be used when the number belongs to a series (número), such as years, book pages, etc., e.g. el 1991, pàgina 1210, el bitllet premiat 78473.
- In cases that require a decimal separator, use a comma: 2,50.
- Measurements should be converted to the International System of Units (SI), unless the original unit of measurement is plot-pertinent.
- Units and symbols should be separated from the preceding figure with a non-breaking space (2.000 kg, 15 %). In the case of percentages, it is preferred to use the symbol as opposed to spelling it out.
- When referring to time in informal settings, the Catalan time system is preferred, e.g. tres quarts de deu (9:45), les dotze tocades (12:04).
- When times need to be represented in numerical format, use a colon to separate the digits, e.g. les 18:00.
- Currencies should be spelled out unless there is not enough space, in which case the currency symbol can be used: 3.000 euros or 3.000 €.
- The $ symbol should only be used for American dollars if needed. Other currencies should be spelled out.
- In scenarios where Roman numerals are traditionally used (centuries, historic figures, etc.), these are preferred to Arabic numerals or spelling the number out, e.g. segle XX, Enric VIII.
- Numbers in proverbs and idioms should be spelled out, e.g. Li va fer les mil i una.
- Do not use semicolons (;).
- Do not use exclamation and question marks together (?!), please pick the one that best suits the intonation or the meaning. For example, "Què dius?!" should be either "Què dius?" or "Què dius!"
- 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:
El molt fill de p…!
El (…) del meu cunyat volia brega.
- For additional details on punctuation, please check the Manual d’Estil.
15. Quotation Marks
- Use double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations:
Em va dir: "Torna demà."
- Single quotation marks (' ') for quotations within quotations:
Va dir: "'La Bamba' és la meva cançó preferida."
- In Catalan, if the quotation marks enclose a full sentence, the period at the end of the sentence goes within the quotes. However, if it is not a full sentence, the period comes after the quotation marks:
"Qui dia passa, any empeny."
Em va dir que l’escultura era "original".
- When a sentence includes a quoted sentence that ends with ellipsis, a question or an exclamation mark, it is not necessary to add a period after the quotation mark:
Em va preguntar: "M’estimes?"
- Song titles and episode 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. Example:
Se n’ha anat a la platja,
tot cantant: "Anem al mar".
- 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).
Subtitle 1 Aquí ho diu ben clar:
Subtitle 2 "És imprescindible demanar cita prèvia
Subtitle 3 per poder fer el tràmit presencialment."
- 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 Ja se sap:
Subtitle 2 "Qui no plora, no mama."
Subtitle 3 "Qui no s’arrisca, no pisca."
- Single quotation marks should be used when referring to the meaning of a word or expression or to a specific word (metalinguistic use).
Un refugi és un 'edifici a la muntanya
que dona aixopluc a excursionistes'.
La paraula 'paraula'
es fa servir amb molta lleugeresa.
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 Catalan punctuation and capitalization rules as follows:
Subtitle 1 ¿No vindrà ningú
Subtitle 2 a donar-me una oportunitat?
Dona-li records a la dona que hi viu,
que temps enrere fou un gran amor meu.
- 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. For film titles, see the Filmoteca list at ésAdir.
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 in 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.
- Use a language that is neutral or widespread across Catalan-speaking territories. Avoid regional or dialectal variants unless fully justified.
- Remember to follow the latest orthographic and grammatical indications by the Institut d’Estudis Catalans. See this ésAdir summary for reference.
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 Catalan 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. perxò, tenir que) should not be reproduced in SDH unless plot-pertinent. For suggestions on how to correct these, see these ésAdir recommendations.
- Where content has been dubbed into Catalan, please refer to the dubbing script or dubbed audio as the basis for the SDH file and ensure that they both 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 the most plot-pertinent content.
- Use song title identifiers when applicable - song titles should be in quotation marks:
[sona "Forever Your Girl"]
[sona "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 Catalan rules. For example:
♪ Dona’m una oportunitat.
Ho reconec, m’he equivocat. ♪
- All same-language audible songs that do not interfere with dialogue should be titled, if the rights have been granted. Do not transcribe lyrics for foreign language songs, unless instructed otherwise by Netflix (e.g. we may request a bilingual song to be transcribed if considered plot-pertinent).
- 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. tus, xiula, plora) while sound effects from the scene use a noun (e.g. xiulet, tret, plor).
- Sound effects should be plot-pertinent.
- 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 [home] or [dona], or [veu d’home] or [veu de dona], 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. [dona 1], [dona 2]. Counting should restart with the scene change.
- Speaker IDs and the corresponding dialogue should ideally be on the same line.
- Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music (e.g. [sona música rock en un televisor]).
- 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.
- Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:
Subtitle 1 Però ara fa temps…
[tus i s’escura el coll]
Subtitle 2 …que no sé res d’ell.
- Never italicize speaker IDs or sound effects, even when the spoken information is italicized, such as in a voice-over:
[narrador] Hi havia una vegada una noia…
- In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
- If foreign dialogue is translated, use [en idioma], for example [en alemany].
- If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [parla idioma], for example [parla alemany].
- Always research the language being spoken: [parla llengua estrangera] should never be used.
- As an exception, if Spanish is frequently used by a character, it can be subtitled as such, as it is perfectly intelligible for Catalan speakers.
For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:
- Diccionari de la llengua catalana de l’Institut d’Estudis Catalans (DIEC2)
- Gramàtica Essencial de la Llengua Catalana
- Manual d’Estil
- Optimot Consultes Lingüístiques
- Ortografia Catalana
- Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana
- First version of article published