Which is Best to Translate: Voice-Overs or Subtitles?

Last Updated On: March 16, 2018


subtitle and voice over

Creating a high quality video is a great achievement, especially if it is designed to effectively market your latest product. However, you now have to find ways to use this video so that it reaches a global audience. If it’s in English then you will need to reach out to a larger audience, as English is not as widely spoken as other global languages such as Chinese and Spanish.
You can translate your YouTube video by using either voice-over or subtitling by using a professional translation agency. If you have a budget and a deadline this will affect your choice.
As you have already created the video you will need to get it translated by a technical translator as nearly 75% of consumers prefer to read or see product information displayed in their native languages. For many consumers using the Internet, the language they are using can be more important than the price.

Online video translation or voice-over to translate your video

A voice-over translation involves substituting the audio file with one that appears in the new targeted language. The benefit of this type of video translation is that the person speaking is not seen; therefore the lip movements do not matter as much. You will of course need a different document translator for each language. A well done voice over can attract a great global audience.

Disadvantages of voice over for an online video translation

1.When dubbing using a different language, the lip movements of the original speaker are likely to be different from the voice-over speaker, which can distract viewers.
2.Recording a voice-over costs more than subtitles
3.There might be gaps in the voice-over if the speed of the video does not match the speaker’s speed


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    • Subtitling does not cost as much as voice over.
    • The audio files will not be affected by subtitles.
    • Subtitles can be switched off by the viewer.
    • Captions or subtitles can be recognised by search engines.


    • Not everyone likes to read subtitles.
    • Subtitles block out the video thus distracting the viewer.
    • If more text is needed than that found in the original language it could take up too much space on the screen.

    Using voice over and subtitles

    Using both subtitles and voice-over could be a better option, but the users will want to control whether they can view text on the screen or not and if they are able to switch off the translation by the voice-over. If the voice-over approach is your plan it will cost more for a technical translator to add subtitles as the script has already been transcribed and translated.

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