Selecting the best subtitle format for your audiovisual project

Not all subtitle formats are created equal, and each project may follow different conventions. Having a good understanding of subtitle formats is indispensable for the success of your audiovisual project.

Audiovisual content is currently experiencing high demand, both in social and business contexts. It serves as an excellent means of communication with users, who can readily access it from any device, whenever they choose. Subtitling is crucial for individuals with hearing impairments and is greatly appreciated by those who want to hear the original voiceover or watch videos without sound. Furthermore, in numerous countries, regulations require operators and channels to offer some or all of their content with subtitles.


Subtitle format types and their characteristics

Every kind of digital file has its unique formats. We are well-acquainted with the .doc extension for word processing, .xls for spreadsheets, and .jpg for images. These are just a few examples showcasing the diverse range of formats, and the same applies to subtitle formats.

In the realm of subtitling, we come across diverse format types that organize and store content, individual subtitle numbers, and time codes. Unlike other file types, subtitle formats are unfamiliar to most people who are not involved in subtitling. Nevertheless, understanding it is vital if you are engaged in an audiovisual project that requires a particular format.

Here are the most commonly used subtitle formats:

  • SubRip (.SRT). This is the simplest format and is compatible with most software. It is a plain text file that includes subtitle sequence numbers, start and end codes, the text content, and blank lines for distinction between each subtitle.
  • Web Video Text Tracks (.VTT). The WebVTT format was introduced in 2010 as an improvement over the previous format. This file type supports HTML and CSS, enabling the selection of text styles, fonts, sizes, colors, and even specifying the reading direction.
  • Advanced SubStation Alpha (.SSA/.ASS). This format is the most comprehensive for subtitling and offers the most advanced screen editing options. Among other capabilities, it enables unique styling for each speaker, font, size and typeface selection, primary and secondary color designation, addition of bold, shadows, borders, and margins, and the ability to define subtitle alignment and positioning.

When choosing a subtitling service for your audiovisual project, it is best to go for experienced professionals like those at Linguaserve. They have the right software tools to work with the exact subtitle format you need and analyze your project’s specific requirements to provide the most suitable solution.