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How to Avoid Some Common Subtitling Errors

Subtitling audio-visual content is one of the ways to generate income as a business owner or a freelancer. But to become good at subtitling, you must try as much as possible to avoid common errors that might make you lose clients. If you are planning to subtitle a video content, be sure you can do it or you opt for a professional. Either ways, here are some errors to look out for when subtitling:

Give every actor a unique voice:  This mistake is very common especially in the film making industry, you sometimes hear two characters sharing the same voice which might be confusing to the audience, it might make the audience feel like a particular actor or person is playing two characters and this might not be the intention. Give your characters different voices, if it’s an advertisement for an audience ensure you are using a voice that is pleasant to the ears of your audience.

When subtitling keep your audience in mind, you don’t want to stress them out or piss them off once they start listening or watching your content. Also, your translation and mode of speaking should reflect in your subtitling. If your character is let’s say fifty, don’t give him the voice of a Ten-year-old and don’t translate his conversations like that of a five-year-old. Ensure his character reflects in your subtitling.

Be Precise, Concise and Accurate: This is as important as snow falling during winter. Your audience won’t have the luxury of time to read your subtitles, they won’t spend the whole day ready which implies that you must be as precise and concise as possible. On the part of accuracy, they must grasp the meaning of what is being said by the characters all at once or they must understand the content of that advertisement at a glance.

Don’t use words that require them to check their dictionaries at intervals they might not enjoy your content. What your audience feels is important per time. Keep them in mind and ensure you don’t stress them out.

Observe your punctuation: Punctuation remains the heart of any language especially the English language. When subtitling, do well to observe them so you can keep your context clear. Where an exclamation mark is to be observed don’t put a comma or where you are to observe a semi-colon but put a full stop. And let it run alongside the way your character is speaking. If the speech and punctuation are not going simultaneously, it becomes a serious subtitling error..

Don’t make Foreign Assumptions: If you are submitting a text for a foreign client, don’t make assumptions about that culture especially if you are not from that culture. Make research, ask questions, don’t just subtitle a text you don’t understand otherwise you will only cause great confusion for your audience.

Avoid Machine Translations: A machine most times will not understand a language the way a human being will understand it. A machine might not understand real conversations, it can’t understand texts in context. In complicated scenarios, it can’t deduce the right phrase or text. If you must use machine translations, use AI subtitling software with proven trackrecords.

When you make a very crucial error, it might not be rectifiable. It might damage the reputation of your company and you begin to lose clients. When you want to subtitle, don’t place so much trust in your abilities, the best thing is to hire a professional who will do a very great job. You can avoid these errors. Keep these errors in mind and be ready to welcome more clients.

In case you have challenges subtitling, remember at ivoiceafrica we offer translation services across all languages.  And we are just an email away, for your subtitling needs, send us a mail at


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