The Industry of Subtitling

By Chiara Grassilli
In Translation
Mar 24th, 2014

The Industry of Subtitling: How It Works

Most people enjoy the convenience of subtitled movies and television shows, but don’t think about the work put into them. The industry of subtitling is an industry on its own, and it requires specific skills. If you’re looking to become a subtitler you can learn the practical skills you need with specific courses that teach you the tools and the techniques to become a subtitler. We partner with the best course provider in the field of subtitling, Go Sub. Go Sub is an online platform where you can learn at your own pace, and gain the necessary skills to start working as a subtitler straight away.

The Types of Subtitling

There are two main types of subtitling: intralingual and interlingual. Intralingual subtitling is subtitling done in the same language that is being spoken. Interlingual subtitling, on the other hand, is subtitling that is in a language besides the spoken one. Different people do these individual types of subtitling because they require different skills.

How Subtitles Are Created

How are subtitles created? Just like there are two types of subtitling that can be done, there are two basic ways to do it. The first way is called real-time subtitling and is done as the words are being spoken. You might think that someone is typing out what is being said, but that’s not actually what happens. Instead, a subtitler listens to what is being spoken and repeats it in a monotone voice into a microphone. They can make some edits to what the computer picks up, but there is little time to do so. This is why there are occasional mistakes on live subtitles.

Pre-recorded television and movies have a higher quality of subtitles than shows that have real-time subtitling. This type of subtitling, known as offline subtitling, has fewer mistakes because the subtitlers have more time to review and fix the subtitles.


Subtitles vs. Audio

If you are the type of person that prefers subtitles, you might notice that even when they are done offline, there are differences between the audio and the subtitles. There are several reasons for this, depending on what type of subtitling is done. If the subtitles are intralingual (meaning that the subtitles are in the same language as the audio), they might differ from the audio simply because there would be too many words for a viewer to read.

Companies want the focus to be on the media presented and if their viewers are too distracted by the words, then their goal is not being achieved. It might also frustrate a viewer if they are missing what is going on visually due to distracting subtitles.

Interlingual subtitling (when the subtitles are in a different language than the audio) has both the same and additional problems that make it so the audio and subtitles don’t always match. Each language is unique and has words that are not found in other languages. Languages also have their own connotations for different things. This means that a direct translation of words might not hold the same meaning in one language versus another.

To compensate, translators might use words with slightly different meanings in order to get the big picture across. This sometimes confuses people that know both the language spoken and the one in the subtitles, but it might be more beneficial for those that only know the language in the subtitles. In both interlingual and intralingual subtitling, it’s up to the subtitler to figure out what words work best in the subtitles.

The subtitling industry is an interesting and unique place to work. Knowing how it works can help viewers to understand mistakes or differences in the subtitles and it also provides an interest into a workforce that most people don’t think about. It’s amazing to realize that all the subtitles you read exist due to some’s hard work.

If you’re looking for courses to become a subtitler, then we recommend you start with Go Sub, an online platform where you’ll be able to learn all the techniques to become a subtitler.

If you feel you’re ready to work as a subtitler click here and start looking for Subtitling Jobs Online.



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About "" Has 116 Posts

Since an early age I have been passionate about languages. I hold a Master's degree in Translation and Interpreting, and I have worked as a freelance translator for several years. I specialize in Marketing, Digital Marketing, Web and Social Media. I love blogging and I also run the blog

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