Captions Style Guide?

I noticed that different captions files follow different formatting rules, which is probably the result of multiple people working on them. For example:

  • Some files write text normally.
  • [Chris] Some identify the speaker, while others don’t.

Is there a preferred style? An offshoot project (apart from merely getting the words correct) would be to make all the files consistent. So is there a style guide that can be made available? The kinds of things I’d expect to find in it include:

  • Which case to use (and perhaps even a mix; CAPS for riffers, normal for original film?)
  • When to use [Name] of speaker (from what I see I think maybe it’s “always for riffers, and for original film when speaker is offscreen”; I don’t think I’ve seen anyone named in host segments, but I’ve admittedly only looked at a few files)
  • When naming riffers, is it [Tom Servo] or just [Tom]? I’ve been seeing the full name used, but human hosts don’t have their full name.
  • Character count for when to split a line (seems to me the algorithm is"split into maximum three lines as evenly as possible, each line not exceeding 32 characters; corollary: do not exceed 96 characters for the entire caption")

Do we hire a monkey to refix all the captions, or set upon them a computer algorithm?

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  • I want to say that CAPS are considered less readable than regular old “Sentence case”.
  • If we consider the “no name needed for onscreen speakers” rule, the riffers are quite neatly offscreen and hard to distinguish if you take audio out of the equation. So “offscreen speakers identified” is a pretty simple and useful rule as long as riffers are included as offscreen.
  • For the sake of conserving characters, one name could suffice for riffers. [Tom Servo] is 11 characters, but [Servo] is 7 and [Tom] is 5. I’d probably stick with [Servo]. It’s a good middle ground.
  • If that rule for line splits works, I’m not going to argue with it.

A little bit of both. If, for example, the ruling comes down to “use normal case” then a robot can do most of it, but some proper names are going to be incorrectly cased, and a filthy human will have to review and change them.


Oh, gross. There goes the neighborhood.


Just make sure the captions are done in Comic Sans. Everybody loves Comic Sans!


Take your stinkin’ typing fingers off of my captions you ^^^^ !


How DARE you, sir!

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Especially since some movies have a character named “Tom,” and I vaguely remember one instance where an identifier was phrased along the lines of: [Tom in the movie]

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There are some good guidelines here: Capital Captions (a captioning service) that could get us started, or even whole style guides that are findable with Google. There’s no reason for us to reinvent the wheel.

Honestly, the absolute best thing we could accomplish is consistency. As someone who relies on the captions to enjoy the shows, it would be nice to have the same quality experience everytime I pop in an episode.

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To be clear, I’m not asking that we come up with a style guide in this thread, I’m asking that the powers that be make one available. If they find it something worth sharing, and there isn’t one already, then a separate discussion can take place for its creation.

If you want such a thing to be available, please vote on this topic.

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