How to Translate Subtitles

A visual guide illustrating the process of using a translation tool to convert subtitles from one language to another

This article explains how to translate subtitles, including why translating subtitles matters and the different subtitle file formats. It covers two methods for translating subtitles: manually with a text editor or using an online translation tool. The steps for using an online tool include finding a suitable tool, uploading the audio file, selecting source and target languages, reviewing and editing the translated text, saving the new subtitle file, and adding it to the video.

How to Translate Subtitles with an Online Tool

You can generate subtitles with auto-translation tools. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Find an Online Subtitle Translation Tool: There are many online subtitle translation tools available, including Google Translate, and Amara. Choose the one that suits your needs best.
  2. Upload Your Subtitle File: Once you’ve found the machine translation tool you want to use, upload the video subtitle file you want to translate. Most tools allow you to upload files in popular subtitle formats such as .srt or .sub.
  3. Select the Source and Target Languages: Next, select the original language of the original subtitle file and the new language you want to translate it into (the target language), for example from English to Hindi, or from Chinese to Spanish. Then, click the translate button.
  4. Review the Translated Text: After the tool has completed the translation process, review the translated text. Check for any errors, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies. It’s important to ensure that the translation accurately reflects the content of the original subtitle.
  5. Edit Subtitles: If you notice any errors or inaccuracies in the translation, edit the text to correct them. Some tools including subtitle editor allow you to edit the text directly in the interface, while others may require you to download and edit the subtitle file in a separate program.
  6. Save the Translated Subtitle File: Once you’re satisfied with the translation, save the new subtitle file. Most tools allow you to download the translated subtitle file in the same format as the original subtitle file.
  7. Add the Translated Subtitle to Your Video: Finally, add the translated subtitle file to your video. Most video players support multiple subtitle files, so you can provide subtitles in multiple languages if needed and share them on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

How to Translate Subtitles Manually

This method is useful when you need to translate subtitles for a short video or when you don’t have access to the Internet.

If you have an SRT subtitle file saved on your computer, you can translate it with a simple text editor such as Notepad or WordPad, which is preinstalled on most computers. To accomplish this,

  1. Make a duplicate of your SRT subtitle file.
  2. Right-click on the file and select Properties.
  3. Choose Notepad or WordPad as the Open With option.

To organize your transcription, include the parts below:

  • Section Number – denotes the order of a subtitle (in ascending order from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…)
  • Start and End Times – specifies when a subtitle should appear in the video as timecodes(must be written as hour:minute: second, millisecond)
  • Subtitles on Screen – You may have more than one row of subtitles in a single sequence. This is the section that needs to be edited and replaced with the translation.
  • Each section is divided by a blank space.

Simply replace the original subtitles with their translations to create a translated version of your SRT subtitle file.

You can translate them yourself or paste the entire text into Google Translate or another online translator of your choice. Then, in Notepad, extract the translated subtitles and paste them where they belong.

Why Should You Translate Subtitles?

here are some reasons why translating subtitles matter:

  1. Increases Accessibility: Translating subtitles can make your video content accessible to viewers who don’t speak the language in which your video is produced. By providing subtitles in different languages and desired languages, you can expand your audience reach and help people who might not have been able to watch your video before.
  2. Improves User Experience: Subtitles help viewers to better understand the content of your video. By providing subtitles, you can help your audience to engage more fully with your content and get the most out of it.
  3. Enhances SEO: Translated subtitles can improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your video content. By providing subtitles in multiple languages, you can increase the chances of your video appearing in search results for those specific languages.
  4. Increases Engagement: Providing subtitles can help to increase engagement with your video file. Viewers who might have difficulty following spoken dialogue, such as those who are deaf or hard of hearing, can still engage with your content and follow along.

What are the Subtitle File Formats?

Subtitles are saved separately from the video as a plain text file. That’s how we can toggle closed captions on and off while watching a YouTube video.

These text files can be encoded in a variety of file formats, including

  • SRT / SubRip (.srt)
  • SubViewer (.sub or .sbv) (.sub or .sbv)
  • WebVTT (.vtt) (.vtt)

To keep things simple, this article will show you how to translate an SRT file. This file format is commonly used and supported by popular video-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Subtitle?

A subtitle is a textual version of the spoken dialogue or narration in a video, movie, or television program. It appears at the bottom of the screen and helps viewers who are hard of hearing.

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