Style Guide: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

A style guide is a comprehensive document or manual containing all the style or house rules for a given project – from the preferred font and reading-time of each subtitle to punctuation and phraseology.

Does every sentence get a full stop? Which punctuation marks should be avoided? Are ellipses or commas used to indicate an incomplete sentence? How much time should be given per subtitle for viewers to comfortably follow along without missing the action? Should your preferred font have background shading or a solid block? Which South African words and phrases are commonly accepted? Do we follow a descriptive or prescriptive approach to language?

These may seem like obvious questions, but at the onset of a project, or even when a project is overhauled, all these issues must be addressed in order to achieve consistent and viewer-friendly subtitles. Much like a character bible for script-writing, a style guide is essential in making sure subtitles are consistent and coherent for optimal viewing comfort.

ScreenScribez compiles a comprehensive style guide for each individual project to ensure no subtext, meaning or characterisation is lost in translation from script to subtitle. Our style guides are based on years of research and experience with a wide variety of audiences.

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