Top 7 Tips For Effective eLearning Course Subtitling

Adding subtitles in your eLearning course can offer learners the chance to more easily acquire and absorb the subject matter, which should be reason enough to consider doing so. However, it also provides another key advantage that should not be overlooked, which is the ability to reach more potential learners. In this article, I'll share some tips for effective subtitling in eLearning, so that you can reap all of the rewards it has to offer.
Effective eLearning Course Subtitling Tips For eLearning Professionals

Effective eLearning Course Subtitling Tips For eLearning Professionals

Hard of hearing learners and those who may be learning English as their second language are just some of the learners who will benefit from eLearning course subtitling. By adding subtitles to your eLearning deliverable, you have the power to make it more informative and engaging for all of your learners, such as those who want to view it on a mobile device or may need text to boost their knowledge absorption. Adding subtitles can even help you localize your eLearning course, so that you can branch out to international markets. Here are a variety of tips for effective eLearning course subtitling.

  1. It's all about placement.
    As the saying goes- there's a place for everything and everything in it's place. This rule also applies to eLearning subtitles. The general rule stipulates that subtitles should be placed low on the screen and centered, so that the learners can read along with the text, but at the same time they don’t distract those who aren't fond of subtitles. Also, you should not place the text too close to the edge or bottom of the screen, as it may get cut off, depending upon the resolution, screen size, etc.
  2. Keep it short and legible.
    It may be tempting to get creative when it comes to the placement of your subtitles on the screen. You may even get the urge to use fonts that are elegant and innovative, believing that it will enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your eLearning course. However, it usually does the exact opposite. Try to keep your subtitling as legible as possible, so that the learners can actually benefit from them. Use a large font, preferably one from the sans-serif font family, and keep it two lines of text or less. Ideally, you'll want to include as little subtitle text as possible, to avoid overloading your learners. They can only read and digest small bits at a time, so keep that in mind when you're creating your eLearning course subtitles. If needed, you can up it to 3 lines. However, if you do this, try to keep it on the screen for a longer span of time.
  3. Add labels to avoid confusion.
    If you are dealing with multiple characters or narrators, then you may want to consider adding labels to your subtitles in order to help the learners differentiate between them. Also, if the narrator is not on screen, as is the case in most eLearning courses, then you may want to place a label on the first screen of subtitling, just to make things clear for your learners.
  4. Minor rewrites may be necessary.
    If you are localizing your eLearning course and you are including translated subtitles, remember that the text may take up more room than the English version. For example, a Spanish translation may be about 20% longer than the original English one. In this case, you'll probably need to either speed up the text, which may take away from the effectiveness of the eLearning course, or rewrite the text slightly, so that you can make room. For this, you may want to enlist the aid of the subject matter expert, who can let you know what absolutely needs to stay in and what can be omitted.
  5. Slow and steady wins the race.
    When it comes to eLearning course subtitling, it's all about achieving a balance between slow and steady. You'll want to go slow enough, so that your learners can actually read them without having to rush, but also keep it at a constant flow, so that they don't get bored with the subject matter. If you find that you have to rush your subtitles to keep up with the text or visuals, then you may want to think about cycling the screens more slowly in order to show the subtitles at a more digestible pace.
  6. Contrast is key.
    Try to make your font white, and place it on a dark, solid color background if at all possible. Ideally, you'll want to place the text in a box rather than placing it directly over the content, just in case you have a screen or two that may blend with the color of the text. However, there is a caveat to this- don't make the box so obtrusive that it draws attention away from the subject matter. Only leave a narrow margin between the text and the edge of the box, so that you get contrast without the captions becoming a hindrance.
  7. Always give it a test run.
    Ultimately, you'll want to test the eLearning course as you go along, to ensure that the subtitles are running in sync with the text and the other elements. Make a point to stop every two or three screens to see how everything is flowing, and then at the end of the subtitling process review and proofread the entire eLearning course at least once to make sure that everything matches up. You wouldn't want to launch the eLearning course only to discover that the video or visuals are completely out of sync with the subtitles you just spent hours creating.

Subtitling can be a powerful tool when used effectively. Keep these tips for effective eLearning course subtitling in order to integrate captions that help, rather than hinder, the overall eLearning experience.

In addition, adding closed captioning to your eLearning course may be a good investment of both time and resources, but it also enables you to bring all of the benefits your eLearning courses offer to the deaf and/or hard of hearing learners. In the article 6 Tips For Closed Captioning eLearning Courses you will find how to add closed captioning to your eLearning courses.

Last but not least, subtitling is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to localize your eLearning. The article eLearning Localization Benefits and Tips highlights the benefits of eLearning localization and offers tips to make the eLearning localization process less stressful, more effective, and more profitable.

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