Should your content have multilingual subtitles?

multilingual subtitles

The rise of the digital age gives content creators a chance to reach a global audience. This opportunity is too big to pass up, so you should consider adding multilingual subtitles to your video content.

Video translation is a cost-effective method that you can utilize to create engaging content. Although the return on investment (ROI) you can get from multilingual subtitles is still put in question by some people in the industry, it cannot be denied that closed captions can increase views more than those without.

Scope of multilingual subtitles

Multilingual subtitling is a standard mode of audiovisual translation, along with dubbing. It is used in many products, namely film, television, computer games, live performances, the Internet, etc. It’s a fast and foreign-culture-friendly way of screen translation that isn’t as expensive as the other modes.

Subtitles, according to experts, are condensed written translations of the content’s original dialogue. It appears as text that appears and disappears in time with the translated portion and is almost always plastered at the bottom of the screen.

In general, subtitles are made up of these elements:

  • Content (written translations)
  • Position (typically on the foot of the screen)
  • Synchrony (in time with the translated dialogue)
  • Post-production activity
  • Nature (new verbal material)

One of the distinct characteristics of subtitles is the concision—not everything in the original dialogue can be written on text. The subtitles should not take the time away from the viewer to enjoy the images.

Challenges to multilingual translations

Multilingual subtitles are considered an easy and cost-effective form of audiovisual translation, but they can also be difficult, especially for the amateur. It’s a tricky task, and here are some reasons why.


Multilingual subtitling is a standard mode of audiovisual translation, along with dubbing.

Reading time is different for every viewer.

Subtitles must synchronize with the translated dialogue, but that also poses one challenge: your audience might struggle to catch up if the texts switch too fast. Remember, humans typically read slower than they talk. On the contrary, sluggish subtitling can bore the reader.

It would help if you found the balance between conciseness and synchrony, which expert translators should be adept at applying. Otherwise, your subtitles might fail to reel in more viewers.

Screen size affects quality.

No matter the device your viewer uses, there is only so much space on the screen to fit your subtitles effectively. There is a limit to the lines of text you can place at a given time. If the content is composed of people speaking simultaneously and quickly, you will struggle with subtitling.

There’s a text expansion phenomenon wherein a word becomes longer once translated into another language. It ultimately takes up more space that may affect the quality of the subtitle timing. Additionally, viewing distance can become an issue, too, since texts can be viewed differently depending on how close to the screen the viewer is.

Translation projects are inherently challenging.

Try this: think of slang in English and try to search for an exact translation in a foreign language. Often, these words don’t have a direct equivalent, which is just a little demonstration of how translation is difficult. People use colloquial, creative, and varied language, which adds to the complication of this task.

Another problematic aspect of multilingual subtitling is if the translated word or sentence does not fit the context, making it more difficult to understand for the reader.


Benefits of multilingual video subtitles

High-quality multilingual content is an excellent way for any brand that wants to reach its target audience efficiently. Here are the advantages of using this tool for your audiovisual content.

Increasing engagement

Did you know that about 75% of the global population does not speak English, and only 6% of people consider English as their first language? If you produce content in English exclusively, you are also unmistakably limiting your potential audience.

You don’t have to reshoot or reproduce your video content to accommodate a broad range of viewers. You can use multilingual subtitles so that anyone can easily follow and understand your content.

Enabling a cost-effective solution

Video subtitling provides a lower overall cost as opposed to other translation modes. You don’t have to reshoot or hire voice-over talents, giving you less multimedia work. If content needs to be updated, you only need to edit the subtitles to include new information or fix what’s missing. Moreover, subtitles can be flexible with their on-and-off capabilities.

Improving SEO

Search platforms like Google cannot crawl or index your video content, but they can detect texts like the title, description, and closed caption files. When you put subtitles, you also make it easier for engines to find your video. This tactic boosts your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and ultimately improves your search rankings in the local market and even overseas.

Aiding the hearing impaired

Inclusivity is always a good thing and providing subtitles for people with hearing problems is an excellent step for your brand. Providing a way to deliver content for differently-abled individuals allows you to grow your audience and inspire fellow creators in the industry to do the same.


Video subtitling provides a lower overall cost as opposed to other translation modes.

Learning a new language

Most people are visual learners, which means that viewers can pick up a new foreign word or two when the content has subtitles. It’s a fantastic learning tool that enables an individual to develop an ear for another language.

The takeaway

Multilingual subtitles provide plenty of benefits, both for the creator and the audience. However, you must keep in mind that subtitling is only effective if it is high-quality and expertly created. You can reach out to us at Circle Translations for professional multilingual subtitling services that you might need. We have over 110 language pairs and 20,000 hours of content delivered every year, making us a trusted subtitling translation service provider in the market today.