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DCU Library's Captioning Best Practices and Subtitle Guidelines

O'Neill, Eilís

This manual is based on several best practice guidelines for captioning or subtitling pre-recorded educational videos at a university level. It will help the user to apply best practice recommendations when creating captions with a focus on line breaks and sentence layout, spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, numbering and date and time. It also offers guidance on how to caption sound effects, music, silence and unintelligible audio and describes how to identify multiple speakers. It gives instructions on how to edit automated YouTube subtitles to create highly readable and accurate captions that follow best practice guidelines. The aim of this manual is to increase the accessibility of online educational video content and to boost the learning experience of all viewers, whether they are deaf, hard of hearing or hearing. 

Further guidelines for captioning live broadcasts, entertainment programmes or other scenarios not set out in the manual can be found using the list of references provided with this document.
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  • BBC (2018) BBC Subtitle Guidelines, BBC. Available at: https://bbc.github.io/subtitle-guidelines/ (Accessed: 4 June 2021).

  • Datta, P. et al. (2020) 'Readability of Punctuation in Automatic Subtitles', in Miesenberger, K. et al. (eds) Computers Helping People with Special Needs. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Lecture Notes in Computer Science), pp. 195–201. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-58805-2_23.

  • DCMP (2021) Captioning Key - Elements of Quality Captioning. Available at: https://dcmp.org/learn/599-captioning-key---elements-of-quality-captioning (Accessed: 16 June 2021).

  • EngageMedia (2021) 'Best Practices for Online Subtitling', EngageMedia. Available at: https://engagemedia.org/help/best-practices-for-online-subtitling/ (Accessed: 4 June 2021).

  • Gerber-Morón, O. and Szarkowska, A. (2018) 'Line breaks in subtitling: an eye tracking study on viewer preferences.', Journal of Eye Movement Research, 11(3), pp. 1–22.

  • Minnesota State captioning committee (2017) 'A campus toolkit for course captioning'. Available at: https://ccaps.umn.edu/documents/CPE-Conferences/MnLC/MNStateCaptioningToolkit.pdf (Accessed: 10 June 2021).

  • National Disability Authority (2020) Subtitles for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Available at: http://universaldesign.ie/technology-ict/archive-irish-national-it-accessibility-guidelines/digital-tv-equipment-and-services/guidelines-for-digital-tv-equipment-and-services/subtitles-for-people-who-are-deaf-or-hard-of-hearing/ (Accessed: 4 June 2021).

  • O'Donovan, Kelly (2016) 'How to Do Subtitles Well – Basics and Good Practices', Translation Journal. Available at: https://translationjournal.net/October-2016/how-to-do-subtitles-well-basics-and-good-practices.html (Accessed: 4 June 2021).

  • Office of Information Technology (2016) 'Captioning standards for quality checklist'. University of Colorado Boulder. Available at: https://oit.colorado.edu/sites/default/files/Captioning%20Standards%20Checklist_0.pdf (Accessed: 16 June 2021).

  • Souto-Rico, M. et al. (2020) 'A new system for automatic analysis and quality adjustment in audiovisual subtitled-based contents by means of genetic algorithms', Expert Systems, 37(6), p. e12512. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/exsy.12512.

  • Szarkowska, A., Díaz Cintas, J. and Gerber-Morón, O. (2020) 'Quality is in the eye of the stakeholders: what do professional subtitlers and viewers think about subtitling?', Universal Access in the Information Society. doi: 10.1007/s10209-020-00739-2.

  • Trask, L. (1997) Capital Letters : Capital Letters and Abbreviations, University of Sussex. Available at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/capsandabbr/caps (Accessed: 21 June 2021).

  • W3C WAI and Henry, S. L. (2021) Transcribing Audio to Text, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Available at: https://www.w3.org/WAI/media/av/transcribing/ (Accessed: 10 June 2021).

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