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Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2021 1:41 am

what can be included in SRT format?

Sat Mar 27, 2021 1:44 am


When writing subtitles I usually follow some rules about what can and what cannot be put in a SRT file.

The problem here, as I've already said somewhere else, is that there is no clear formal standard.
I usually accept <i> tags as valid but I have doubts about "font color".

I think it could be useful in subtitles for hearing impaired people. The problem is that audio (speech and sound) carries much more information than plain text. You can alleviate this by writing descriptions. For example, in many subtitles you find tags to show who is saying the following text. But this has the drawback that it occupies space and it could make it excede the maximum recommended CPS. Color (and text format in general) is a good way of carrying this kind of information.

Summing up: can I put "font color" tags in a SRT file?
If not, should I choose that as the alternative?

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Re: what can be included in SRT format?

Sat Mar 27, 2021 3:50 pm

I think there is no 100% truth or wisdom. Reality is a bit 'double'. Here are some considerations:

Many players will just accept mentioned formatting within an SRT file without any problem. Not only the italics tag, but also font color, font size and face and even positioning tags like {\an8}.

But... some players don't. Especially older standalone players will not read this formatting, sometimes not even the italics tag, and just display those formatting tags as plain text. Obviously this is very distracting and confusing and you don't want that.

Also, note that subtitling guidelines are somewhat different in different countries. For example, in Netherlands, excessive/unnecessary use of italics is considered inferior. Some professionals even say that the italics tag should literally NEVER be used. In other countries, italics MUST be used in certain cases, otherwise the subtitle is considered inferior.

My personal idea is to keep the SRT file as simple as possible, as it will be most compatible. If anything, I would only use the italics tag, and very rare. In general, I would say to do any formatting only if there is a very very good reason.

For text color, you are right about what you are saying, it could be helpful for hearing impaired people to connect a specific color to a certain character in the movie. This could be considered a "very very good reason". The price to pay is that some players will not display it well. And obviously, you would do this only for subtitles for the hearing impaired. When uploading such a subtitle, I would advice to mention the coloring as additional info, so the downloader knows in advance what to expect.

And, for example, another good reason could be a yellow color to distinguish with hard coded (white) subtitles.

Hardly ever there is a good reason to display ALL text in a certain color, face or size. After all, the end user can set this in his player - or it is not possible and then why would the subtitler take over control? It could only do harm...

In cases of "very good reasons" you could also consider the SSA-format. This format type officially supports text formatting and positioning.

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