TED Translators Cheat-sheet

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This "cheat sheet" represents best practices in OTP subtitling. Note that the character number values refer to languages which use a Latin script, and may differ for languages written in other scripts (often being lower than the max numbers below). For length and reading speed rules for your non-Latin script language, consult your language's page on OTPedia, your Language Coordinators or fellow OTP volunteers in your language's Facebook group. Below, you will find a few versions of the OTP Cheat-sheet that you can adapt for your language.

Wiki table

Open this article for editing, copy the code and paste it into a new article to create a version for your language. You can learn more about editing OTPedia in this guide and more about customizing such tables here (if you wish to add or merge fields, or align the sheet with text in a specific way).

OTP cheat-sheet
Subtitle duration 1-7 seconds
Max reading speed 21 characters / s
Max number of lines 2
Max line length 42 characters
Max subtitle length 84 characters
Subtitle start Not over 100ms before speech
Line-breaking Don't split linguistic units
Subtitle structure Don't merge end and beginning
of two sentences
Text segmentation Don't split sentences too much
if not necessary for length/speed
Sound representation (Parentheses)
On-screen text [Square brackets]

Image formats

Instead of the Wiki table above, you can use the image format designed by Dimitra Papageorgiou. If you know how to use Adobe Photoshop or the free, multi-platform graphics-editing software GIMP, you can easily adapt this image format for your language (the text layers are editable in the PSD and XCF files).

Use these links to download the desired image format: PNG (975 kb / 499 x 499), PSD / Photoshop (622 kb, 499x499), XCF / GIMP (153 kb, 499x499). If you have prepared a version in your own language, share it with us at translate@ted.com, we would love to spread the news!

Image shows the OTP cheat sheet table with subtitle standards.