How to make a subtitle


We rely on YOU to make subtitles for friends in your country, so more people can see the videos.

We will make English subtitles available the moment we launch each episode. That means timecodes will be already included, so all you’ll have to do is translate the lines in your language.

So what’s a subtitle?

A subtitle is normally a short text file. It includes the lines of dialogue and a timecode reference. The timecode is basically the code that says when the lines of text should appear.

How to start?

First of all, download the .SRT file from the Subtitles Page. Now, there’s two ways of doing this.

The best way of editing a subtitle is by using a simple, free subtitle software. There’s lots of them out there, but here’s two favorite picks.

  • Aegisub is an open-source subtitling software extremely easy to use. You can get the hang of it with this quick tutorial right here;
  • Amara is platform for creating subtitles directly online and making videos accessible to people from all over the world. There’s a quick tutorial for this too. Check it out.

Are there any rules?

Yes there are. But it’s pretty straight forward:

  1. Translate everything
  2. Do not translate literally
  3. Summarize (36-40 characters per subtitle)
  4. Adapt puns, play on words or proverbs

For a more in depth look, here’s a great article to get you started.

Understanding Subtitle Code

A .SRT file is just a simple text file you can open in any sort of text editor. We suggest using Aegisub or any other subtitle editor to ease your work. But let’s take a look at the file. SRT stands for SubRip Translations (I think) and it looks something like this:

00:00:00,620 --> 00:00:02,300
We copy.

00:00:02,440 --> 00:00:05,500
Movies, music, tv shows,
books, culture...

00:00:05,650 --> 00:00:07,400
Information and knowledge.

So let’s divide this in sections.
  • Each display is numbered incrementally from 1 to 2, 3… 98… etc.
  • After that there’s the time (in seconds) from where the subtitle starts displaying to where it ends.
    • 00:00:02,440 --> 00:00:05,500
  • After that there’s the actual text stretching on one or two lines, depending on the length.

You just have to be sure not to delete any numbers or arrows (-->) and to keep the lines incremental. Just translate the text and you’ll be just fine. That’s it!

How to feature them on Youtube and Vimeo?

Here’s the thing. Youtube has now started working on contributor subtitles. But until that feature is available for everyone, the best way to do this is through Amara. You just have to create a new subtitles for the specific video and we will be notified automatically. I will try to upload the new subtitle to Youtube, Vimeo and Internet Archive as fast as possible.

If you want to reach me or experience any trouble, just drop me a line at alex [at] copy-me [dot] org.

Thank you and looking forward to your help!