If you’re starting the process of adding subtitles to your film you’ll need to take into consideration font styles, spacing, font color and font size.

There are certain fonts that lend themselves well to web design, others that work better in print and others that are optimal for use against dynamic content such as moving images.

While web fonts such as Tahoma, Verdana and Georgia are great for use in web media, they were designed to work well in static design environments where the background doesn’t change.

There are three fonts that are widely used for subtitles in films and documentaries. They are:

Univers 45
Antique Olive
Tiresias

These three fonts work well as subtitles over dynamic content and will allow you to communicate most effectively with your audience.

When you design your subtitles, you will need to keep in mind that moving images interact with your top layer subtitles. For example, if your subtitles are white and they rest on top of a similar white tone in your image, the text will be difficult, if not impossible to read.

To ensure this doesn’t happen you should use a black outline around your text. This helps ensure your text will be viewable even against common black and white backgrounds.

Alternatively, some filmmakers use a yellow font for their subtitles. However, even if you decide to use yellow subtitles you should nevertheless use a black outline (and possibly even a soft shadow) around the text to ensure its readability.

If you experiment with fonts for your subtitles ensure you experiment with sans serif fonts. They are much more readable than their serif cousins.

Below is an example using the free Tiresias font mentioned above.

Example 1: Using no shadows or outlines

subtitle1

Example 2: Using a soft shadow and no outline

subtitle2

Example 3: Using a soft shadow and a subtle outline. Notice how the font stands out much better against the lighter tones in the image?

subtitle3

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