Cueing standards
Thread poster: Monica Paolillo

Monica Paolillo
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Feb 28, 2012

Good morning subtitle experts,

I am relatively new to this field even though I've been in the translation industry for 15 years. So far I have subtitled quite a few interviews, documentaries, corporate videos etcetera. I use professional software. I also translate scripts for dubbing.

I was wondering if the subtitling professionals could give me a few tips about cueing.

Is there a standard exposure time for subtitles? I have read a few guidelines on the internet but I could only find the minimum exposure (the one that leaves the viewer enough time to read) but nothing about the maximum exposure.

Thank you in advance for any suggestion. I really don't want to do cueing but I have seen it is often requested as an additional service.



Zehavit Ehre  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:55
English to Hebrew
+ ...
subtitling time Feb 28, 2012

Hi Monica,
Subtitle time is usually between 1+ second (for one word) and 7-8 second (for full two lines.
For more info about subtitling you are welcome to watch a lecture I gave (press CC for English subtitles):

I am talking about technical constraints from minute 3:30
Good luck,


Monica Paolillo
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Thank you!!! Feb 28, 2012

It was most interestingicon_smile.gif Good job!


Just Opera
Local time: 01:55
French to English
+ ...
reading speeds Feb 28, 2012

Average reading speed of the viewer is important to determine subtitle times i.e. characters per second is a better guide than seconds per word (i.e. takes longer to read the word 'establishment' than the word 'no').

Normal reading speeds for subs is 12-14 cps, although an American TV show with lots of fast cutting can be 18-20, as the subtitle time is "forced" by the cut of the images (standard practise not to overlap cuts in the image with subs)

Normal ballpark is a subtitle should be no shorter than 34 frames (just over 1 second) and no longer than 5-6 seconds. i.e. If the subtitle time is too short it seems like a flash to the viewer (not good) and it if is too long then it is read more than once by the viewer (not good).

For cps, depends on what software you use but some subtitling software will give you cps as an parameter to work with.

[Edited at 2012-02-28 12:35 GMT]


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