September 8, 2014 at 7:06PM

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What fonts should I use for subtitles?

I know that for convenience of reading you should always use sans serif fonts, keep in mind the size of the font and other pretty much straight forward facts, but...what about the looks?

Most of my works are music videos, so I don't deal with subtitles on a regular basis, but I made a mini-doc a few months ago and I'm struggling to find a font which brings functionality and style together. Maybe we can use that as an example:

https://vimeo.com/86579260
PASSWORD - balcao2014

So...can you read it? There's some overlapping conversation, the subtitles are a little bit too quick sometimes, but overall...can you read it?
I am using "Arvo" and I really like the looks of it. Although it's a slightly serifed font, I guess I can take the risk, if it means that I won't have a ugly font destroying the look of my video.

So...thanks in advance for sharing your opinion. It would mean a lot to get some feedback, as I'm sending this short to some film festivals and I would like everyone to be able to read the text ahah :)

P.S. Keep in mind that this thread isn't only about this video. Show me your examples. Let's talk about other solutions!

9 Comments

I think this is very subjective bud, it all depends on your taste, just make sure the size is not too big.

September 9, 2014 at 12:51AM, Edited September 9, 12:51AM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1927

I’m glad to see someone concerned about what font is being used for subtitles. I’m into typography, so it puts a smile on my face when people care about these things. I don’t have a ton of time to comment right now, so I’ll just give my thoughts about your specific choices, and then come back later to share my thoughts on subtitle fonts in general.

I quite like the font you chose, quite readable. I think it fits the feel of the film very well. There are a few instances where it moved too quickly for me to catch it, but I got the gist of everything I think. I’m not a slow reader though, so some people might have an issue with it. What can you do though, they talk so fast.

Size-wise, I initially thought it was a tad on the small size, but once I full-screened the video and got used to it, it seemed fine. As someone who is into typography, I found the leading (spacing between lines) bugged me, when some of the descenders of the first line were running into the ascenders of the below. I’d give a bit more space in-between the lines if you can.

Neat short film. It didn’t grab me right away, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. By the way, there’s a typo at the end of your film: “I put up with a bunch of costumers, and they put up with me.”

September 10, 2014 at 2:32AM, Edited September 10, 2:32AM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1257

Check out dafont and font squirrel for free (even commercially free) fonts. There are so many and I asked a similar question not too long ago here. The thing is, it's entirely subjective. Montserrat is a good, readable font. http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/montserrat
We use it a lot at our church for web/print/video.

October 27, 2014 at 7:19PM, Edited October 27, 7:19PM

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May 5, 2015 at 8:36AM, Edited May 5, 8:36AM

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Vladimir Pcholkin
BeekeeperStories
300

My personal favorite for subtitles and even general titling is FF DIN. It's a beautiful, modern, clean typeface that comes in many different weights. FF DIN is very popular because of it's versatility in that it's used anywhere from street signs in New York to book covers; and meshes well with modern and extremely old typefaces.

You can check out some good examples of how it's used in different brands and applications here: http://fontsinuse.com/typefaces/2422/ff-din

Here's an example of it in use for subtitles: http://cl.ly/c5N7

July 28, 2015 at 3:06PM, Edited July 28, 3:26PM

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Danny Daft
Motion Designer
159

Use the fonts you like for your videos.

And yes do not make them too large and do pay attention to leading.

April 4, 2016 at 1:53PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
2605

How were you able to embed a custom font and apply styling to size, etc. in Vimeo?? I am seeing no such options in Vimeo and their standard is atrocious. We uploaded an .srt file for subtitling. Is this only possible by using the Amara service? We already have our subtitle files, so just need a means to display them in a manner that compliments our film, aesthetics and function merged.

Thanks for the reply!

September 17, 2016 at 3:34PM

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Are you just hardcoding the subtitles for this? We have a film we have translated into 7 languages, and would prefer to apply font and style globally, but it's starting to look like burning in 7 different versions of the film is the only option on Vimeo, especially without any ability to turn subtitles/captions by default.

Would be interested in any alternative approaches people have taken to have creative control with fonts and stylizing with Vimeo.

September 17, 2016 at 4:05PM

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Following this! I do a lot of captioning for YouTube and Facebook videos but I'd be keen to hear more about Vimeo as I do a lot of work that needs to be accessible/multi-language.

November 5, 2016 at 10:38PM

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Nelli Huie
DOP/Director
25

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