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Video Subtitles for Children and Adults

Video Subtitles for Children

In today’s post, we want to take a look at how video subtitles for children compare to subtitles for adults. Video subtitling for Children’s films can be quite a different process to subtitling adult content. Accessibility issues aside, we wanted to understand not only what the differences are, but why they are so necessary.  

We want to understand whether children should indeed have slower reading speeds and easier to understand grammar. Is it better to have colourful backgrounds which may make it easier for children to learn to read subtitles?

Children’s Subtitles – Important Factors to Consider

Timed Text

When starting to write subtitles for children, we must firstly understand and consider some of the differences in terms of children’s reading ability and literacy levels.

Children need more time to read subtitles. For those between the ages of 5 and 13, the recommended reading speed for on-screen text is between 160-180 words per minute (WPM). Producing your subtitles at this rate means that young viewers will actually have time to view and read captions. When it comes to time coding text for children’s television, most other technical aspects of subtitling take a backseat to overall reading speed, which is considered paramount.

Video Transcription Style and Grammar

Another aspect that is well worth considering is grammar checking. Children often read better if grammar is slightly more basic. Including overly complex or unnecessary grammar within children’s subtitles may only slow down or potentially confuse young viewers. 

In terms of video transcription, closed captions are typically written in a verbatim style, to include erms, ahs, and to replicate speech as closely as possible. However for children’s subtitles, use of filler words can make text harder for children to read and process. Therefore, it’s recommended that when transcribing audio for children, the style should be more intelligent verbatim. 

Closed Caption Style and Format

When working with either open subtitles or closed caption formats which allow font styling and colour changes, it’s important to consider readability. Fonts for children’s subtitles should ideally be sans-serif and high contrast to allow for easier reading. Standard white Arial font on a high contrast bright or dark boxed background is therefore recommended for the best results. Font size increases can also be helpful. Use of colour can be important especially when working on captioning cartoons which often are very colourful with a lot of movement. BBC subtitle guidelines now encourage colour changes over placement to indicate and identify different speakers, which can work very well for children’s TV broadcasts. 

Below we will take a look at a brief summary of the key differences between written video subtitles for children and adults. 

Video Subtitles for Adults

  • Verbatim video transcription is preferable
  • Line and subtitle splits take into account natural pauses in audio and logical syntactical breaks 
  • A reading speed of 200-250 words per minute is ideal for most adult entertainment shows or adverts
  • Placement changes and name labels can be used to indicate speakers
  • Subtitle backgrounds can be transparent, boxed in, or text with a shadow or outline

Subtitling for children

Video Subtitles for Children 

  • Verbatim transcription style is slightly relaxed, favouring readability over precise accuracy
  • Line and subtitle splits work around natural audio breaks, but reading speed is always paramount.
  • Children’s TV captions should have a reading speed somewhere between 160-180 words per minute. 
  • Colour changes can be a great for indicating speakers
  • Subtitle backgrounds should be box effect, making text easier to read

With all these differences, it’s clear to see that Video Subtitles for children and adults need very different subtitling requirements. What works well for adults does not necessarily translate to children. 

If you’re looking to subtitle your videos specifically for children and are interested in finding out more, contact us today for a free captioning quote.

Alternatively, visit our sister site to find out more about video accessibility for children.

Subtitle Services

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  • VoD Closed Captions
  • Closed Caption Formatting
  • Captions for the Deaf
  • Caption Regulations
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About us

At Capital Captions, we take pride in our flexible, tailor-made approach to subtitling, closed captioning, video translation and video transcription services. We offer professional, reliable, cost effective services to clients across the globe.

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