Wikipedia's definition of typesetting: "Typesetting involves the presentation of textual material in graphic form on paper or some other medium." In a subtitling context, this means three things:

Particularly in the fansub community, the word "typesetting" usually refers to the second or third of these three.

This page will attempt to give you an introduction to subtitle typesetting. Unfortunately good taste is hard to teach, but we will do our best.

Dialogue typesetting

The main goal of dialogue typesetting is legibility; everything else is just icing on the cake. There's no point in having subtitles if the viewer can't read them. Remember that subtitles frequently require quite fast reading, so ease of recognition is vital. Some guidelines for good legibility:


"Sign" typesetting

Sign typesetting (translating various background text) can usually be accomplished with ASS, but for more complex effects commercial programs like Adobe AfterEffects are sometimes used, since the holy grail of sign typesetting is to make the subtitle look like it's a part of the image that was always there. How to get there from here will not be discussed in detail on this page (see the typesetting tutorial), but here are some pointers:


Further reading

The Wikipedia page on typography has a lot of useful links and explanation of various typesetting-related terms.