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 100 ms before speech
Line-breaking Don't split linguistic units
Line-length balance One line can't be shorter
than 50% of the other
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, PSD / Photoshop or XCF / GIMP. 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.

Non-English versions

Below, you will find non-English versions of the OTP Cheat-sheet, adapted by OTP volunteers.


The Dutch version of the OTP Cheat-sheet was created by Els De Keyser.

Duurtijd ondertitel 1-7 seconden
Maximale leessnelheid 21 karakters/seconde
Maximaal aantal regels 2
Maximale regellengte 42 karakters
Maximale lengte ondertitel 84 karakters
Start ondertitel Niet meer dan 100 ms voor de gesproken tekst
Start nieuwe regel Onderbreek geen taalkundige eenheden
Evenwichtige regellengte De lengte van de ene regel mag niet minder dan
50% van de andere zijn
Structuur van de ondertitel Vermijd eind van een zin en begin van een andere
in eenzelfde ondertitel
Tekstverdeling Vermijd om zinnen te splitsen
tenzij omwille van regellengte of leessnelheid
Geluidsweergave (Haakjes)
Tekst op het scherm [Rechte haken]


The German version of the OTP Cheat-sheet was created by Angelika Lueckert.

Image shows the German version of the OTP cheat sheet table with subtitle standards.


The Greek version of the OTP Cheat-sheet was created by Dimitra Papageorgiou.

Image shows the Greek version of the OTP cheat sheet table with subtitle standards.


The Korean version of the OTP Cheat-sheet was created by Jeong-Lan Kinser.

한국어 한 영상에서 자막 길이: 1-7 초
한국어 최고 자막 읽기 속도: 초당 10자
한국어 최대 자막의 줄 수: 2줄
한국어 최대 줄 길이 한국어: 21자 (영어: 42자)
한국어 최대 자막 길이: 42자 (영어: 84)
한국어 자막 시작 시간: 자막 100 밀리 세컨드 이전에 시작하지 말 것
한국어 줄바꾸기: 언어적인 유닛 (21자가 넘어 자를 필요가 없는 이상 단어구, 절)을 가능한 한 자르지 말 것)
한국어 줄 길이의 균형: 한 줄의 길이가 다른 줄의 길이와 비교하여 50 퍼센트 이상 짧지 않게 할 것
한국어 자막 구조 (두 문장 자막의 마지막이나 시작부분에서 자막을 합치지 말 것)
한국어 텍스트 분할: 읽기 속도를 위해 필요하지 않다면 문장을 너무 짧게, 또는 많이 자르지 말 것
강연이 아닌 배경 소리 재현하려면 괄호( )안에 넣을 것
강연 중 스크린에 나타나는 자막은 네모 괄호[ ]안에 넣을 것


The Serbian version of the OTP Cheat-sheet was created by Mile Živković.

Image shows the Serbian version of the OTP cheat sheet table with subtitle standards.