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Simplified Chinese (PRC) Timed Text Style Guide

*This document covers the language specific requirements for Simplified Chinese (PRC). Please make sure to also review the General Requirements Section for comprehensive guidelines surrounding Timed Text deliveries to Netflix.   

1. Character Limitation

  • 16 characters per line

2. Character Names

  • If approved translations of proper names (e.g., Peter, Suzanne) are not provided, please transliterate.
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g., Santa Claus = 圣诞老人).
  • When introducing a cast member in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: John Smith – Director = (导演 约翰史密斯)
  • When introducing an actor in a narrative, regardless of the on-screen presentation, always use the following format: Vivien Leigh – “Scarlett O’Hara” = (费雯莉饰郝思嘉)

3. Continuity

  • Do not use ellipses or dashes when an ongoing sentence is split between two or more continuous subtitles.

Subtitle 1 她过来这里告诉我

Subtitle 2 她会回来

  • Use ellipses to indicate a pause or an abrupt interruption. In the case of a pause, if the sentence continues in the next subtitle, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.

Subtitle 1 –但你说⋯

Subtitle 2 –我知道他说什么

Subtitle 1 –今天的天气很⋯

Subtitle 2 –她很漂亮

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


4. Documentary

  • Only translate a speaker’s title once, the first time the speaker appears in the documentary.
  • 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.
  • Use Chinese parentheses for on-screen text.

Subtitle 1 –我最爱海滩了 因为⋯

Subtitle 2 –(导演)

Subtitle 3 –⋯在海里游泳最好了

  • 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.

5. Dual Speakers

  • Use English hyphen without a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle, with a maximum of one character speaking per line.

6. Font Information

  • Font style: SimHei as a generic placeholder for proportionalSansSerif
  • Font size: relative to video resolution and ability to fit 16 characters across screen
  • Font color: white

7. Forced Narratives

  • Forced narrative titles 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 should be enclosed in Chinese parentheses, except for foreign dialogue.
  • If the narrative is split between two or more subtitles, use parentheses at the beginning and end of each subtitle.
  • 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 in the subtitle follows it.

Subtitle 1 –我最爱海滩了 因为⋯

Subtitle 2 –(导演)

Subtitle 3 –⋯在海里游泳最好了

8. 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).
  • Foreign words or phrases should be translated when possible (i.e. hello, goodbye, thank you, merci) or transliterated when no accurate translation exists.

9. Italics

  • Do not use italics.

10. Line Treatment

  • Maximum two lines.

11. Numbers

  • Chinese numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out if space permits: 一 二 三
  • Use half width numbers (1, 2, 3) instead of full width numbers (1, 2, 3).
  • Do not use a comma to separate the thousandth digit where there are only four digits.
  • Do not use financially used characters (壹, 贰, 叁, etc) to represent rounded large numbers, use characters for common writing instead (e.g., 五千, 四十亿).
  • Use Arabic numerals for apartment numbers, street numbers, phone numbers, measurements, chapter numbers, monetary amounts, page numbers, addresses, time, flight numbers, dates.
  • Do not abbreviate years(e.g., 她1992年来过).
  • Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.
  • Money: Do not convert currency to RMB (e.g., $10 > 10元; £20 > 20英镑; ¢25 > 2角5分).

12. Punctuation

  • Do not use commas or periods. Use one single space instead.
  • Enumeration commas can be used for lists (e.g.  "A、B、C").
  • Question marks are required to indicate questions.
  • Only question marks or exclamation marks are allowed at the end of a line/subtitle.
  • Use a full-width colon to introduce quoted speech (e.g., 我问:“你有什么?”).
  • A colon may be used to introduce an explanation or an example (e.g., 日期:1976年8月27日)
  • Use a full-width question mark or exclamation mark when necessary.
  • For ellipsis, please use unicode U+2026 - it will display as a midline ellipsis in our platform. The unicode U+22EF is not supported.
  • Do not use:
    • A question mark with an exclamation mark (!?)
    • Double question marks (??)
    • Double exclamation marks (!!)


  • Use full width quotation marks.
  • Quotes: Double quotation marks (“”) without spaces.


  • Single quotation marks (‘') for quotes within quotes.


  • Quotes should be used at the start and end of a sentence and not at the start of every subtitle.
  • When only a portion of a sentence is in quotes, the punctuation comes after the quotation mark.


  • When a whole sentence is in quotes, the punctuation mark comes before the quotation mark.


14. Reading Speed

  • Adult programs: 9 characters per second
  • Children’s programs: 7 characters per second

15. 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.

16. 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.
  • Do not use italics or quotes for song lyrics.
  • Use an 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.

17. Titles

  • 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 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.
  • When translating the on-screen episode title, use the following format:


  • Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, please transliterate.
  • The following titles should be in Chinese brackets: albums, films, songs, TV programs, newspapers, magazines, books, works of art, trilogies.


  • Do not add main title brackets or Chinese parentheses to approved Netflix credits translations and leave a space after NETFLIX.

  NETFLIX 原创连续剧

18. Special Instructions

  • Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
  • Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue. 

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.
  • Truncating the original dialogue should be limited to instances where reading speed and synchronicity to the audio are an issue.
  • Keep to 2 lines for dialogue, 3rd line may be used for descriptors.
  • 3 lines max for onscreen text, if necessary.
  • Character limit can be increased to 18 characters per line, as needed.
  • Reading speed can be increased to:
    • Adult programs: 11 characters per second
    • Children’s programs: 9 characters per second
  • 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:
    ["Forever Your Girl" playing]
  • Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
  • 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 [man] or [woman], or [male voice] or [female voice], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
  • Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music (e.g., rock music playing over a stereo).
  • Sound effects should be plot-pertinent.
  • Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:

         Subtitle 1: However, lately, I've been...
                         [coughs, sniffs]

         Subtitle 2:  ...seeing a lot more of this.

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

20. References

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

Change Log:


Revised section 4 Documentary - 4th and 5th bullet points added
Revised section 7 Forced Narratives – 2nd, 3rd, and 6th bullet points added, 5th bullet point rewritten
Revised section 11 Numbers - 7th bullet point revised
Revised section 12 Punctuation - 8th bullet point added

Revised section 15 Repetitions – 1st point revised for clarity
Revised section 16 Songs – 2nd bullet point added
Revised section 17 Titles – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bullet points revised
Revised section 19 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity


Revised section 11 Numbers – 4th bullet point revised


Added section 19 SDH Guidelines 
Renumbered section 19 References – now section 20


Revised section 8 Foreign Dialogue – 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
Revised section 12 Punctuation – 2nd and 3rd bullet points added
Revised section 17 Titles – 1st and 4th bullet points revised, 2nd bullet point added, 5th bullet point removed

2015-12-07 (Version 3.3 )

Revised Section 19. Simplified Chinese (PRC): Content Requirements

Revised section 19.1 Character Limitation
Revised section 19.2 Character Names – 1st, 4th and 5th bullet points revised
Revised section 19.4 Documentary – 3rd bullet point added
Revised section 19.7 Forced Narratives – 5th bullet point added
Revised section 19.11 Numbers – 2nd bullet point revised (“single-byte/double-byte” replaced with “half width/full width”)
Revised section 19.17 Titles – 2nd and 6th (last) bullet added. 5th bullet revised: (書名號) removed