Netflix closed captioning reformatting

Netflix Closed Captioning Guidelines

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Netflix Closed Captioning Style Guide

This document contains a list of required practices when originating subtitles, SDH, or Closed Captions for Netflix content.

Character Limitation
42 characters per line

 Line Treatment
2 lines max (3 is OK if required)

Minimum duration: 1 second per subtitle event
Maximum duration: 7 seconds per subtitle event
No blank cell should be less than 2 seconds. Add a blank cell (no caption cell) only if the pause between dialog is more than 2 seconds.

Letter Treatment
Dialogue: Mixed Case
Forced Narrative (location callouts, signs, etc.): ALL CAPS
(EXCEPTION: Written passages should mimic onscreen capitalization. NOTE: Forced Narrative should only be used if plot pertinent.)
Sound Effects: ALL UPPER CASE


  • Use italics for — Off Scene Dialogue (characters not physically present — not simply off screen).
  • If a person is narrating for himself/herself that monolog should be italicized.
  • Includes narration and voiceovers — Electronic media (TV and radio chatter, phone conversations, etc.) — Titles of books, magazines, poems, films, TV shows
  • Transcribed foreign language words
  • Song lyrics (if cleared by Netflix)

Change in Speaker
Use a hyphen followed by a space for two speakers in one subtitle. Maximum of one character speaking per line.

– I want you to stay with me.
– But I want to go, Mom!

Trailing off or mid-sentence pick-ups should be indicated by three periods. Abrupt pauses should be indicated by two hyphens.
– What are you—
– Be quiet!

If a dialog is left unfinished (trails off) then use ellipses.


  • I was wondering if…

No need to have lyrics in the song is not pertinent to the show. (The tricky part is deciding what is pertinent). Instead of just having music symbols, it is better to describe music if the music is adding to the flavor of the content. If it’s just general filler music, no need to identify it.

Dialogue must not be censored. Expletives should be translated as such.

 Foreign Dialogue
Foreign dialogue should only be translated if originally intended to be understood. Foreign-language words should be italicized unless part of regular usage.

EXAMPLE: Regularly used foreign words in English: Bon appétit, rendezvous, doppelgänger, Zeitgeist, persona non grata, etc.

Character Names
Leave character names in original language unless translations are approved by Netflix. (EXCEPTION: Famous historical/mythical characters that might vary from language to language. U.S. subtitle: Santa Claus — German subtitle: Nikolaus)

Titles of existing movies, TV shows, etc.
Use official or well-known translations. If none are found, titles will be left in the original language.

Song Treatment
Songs (including opening theme songs) will not be subtitled/CC unless crucial to the plot. If plot pertinent, seek written clearance from Netflix.
Lyrics should be in italics
(So as a default, no need to add lyrics to the CC)

Translation Credits
No ending punctuation unless a question mark
Capitalize beginning of each song lyric