GeneralSubtitling vs. Dubbing: What's the Difference?

January 12, 2024by admin

There are two primary techniques for translating content: dubbing and subtitling. This guide will help you make the best decision for your localization project by comparing and contrasting subtitling vs. dubbing.

The entertainment industry has long argued over whether to dub or subtitle their output. Choosing the right release strategy for your target market is essential to take your video project global.

When making this choice, you need to consider many things, such as the target audience’s tastes, the cost of dubbing or subtitling, and the quality of the translation.

Thus, to assist you in making the right choice, we’ve put up this guide on subtitling vs. dubbing and hope that it will settle the debate once and for all. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

What Is Subtitling?

The process of putting the original audio’s text translation to the screen is called subtitles. It helps convey the audio message in text to viewers who are unable to understand the actor’s words or who do not understand the language.

Video producers can utilize closed captioning in various mediums, including social media, TV, movies, and ads. Due to fast globalization and the ease with which individuals obtain content online, it has become popular over time.

The Benefits of Using Subtitling

If you want to introduce your content to global audiences, subtitling is one of the most easily accessible methods. It helps you to adapt your content for non-native speakers. Regardless of the original language of your video content, subtitling can provide full context to foreign-speaking audiences.

Besides, it also enhances your content’s accessibility to a diverse population. Even when you have invested heavily in dubbing your content, hard-of-hearing individuals may not be able to enjoy it. That’s where subtitling helps you.

Additionally, subtitling is a technique that helps preserve the authenticity of original content. By avoiding dubbing, the original voice of actors remains intact. Just because an audience doesn’t understand the language doesn’t mean that they won’t appreciate the actor’s performance.

Many times while dubbing, dialogues are converted as such that they match the lip movements of the actors on screen, failing to capture the exact tone and intended context of a line and missing out on vital information. In contrast, when you watch a movie with subtitles, you enjoy the untainted content.

The Downsides of Subtitling

Undeniably, subtitles have many benefits, but there are also some downsides that you should be aware of. While subtitling can facilitate audiences with an authentic experience, they are distracting. They appear at the bottom of the screen. Therefore, during scenes with heavy -dialogue delivery, the audience might spend more time reading captions than watching what is happening.

Text expansion and language pairing are other issues you should be wary about. If your target language contains more words than your source language, then the bottom of the screen may become crowded. In such cases, you can use abbreviations, but it will compromise the meaning and context.

What Is Dubbing?

Dubbing is a technique that replaces the speaker’s original voice in an original video with recorded audio in a different language. Viewers who like to listen to audio in their native language while reading subtitles are the ones who use it most frequently.

A voice actor records the translated original audio for dubbing, which is subsequently added to the video during post-production. However, dubbing should not be confused with voice-overs. The latter is employed in storytelling to give more details about the characters and the events in the film.

The Benefits of Using Dubbing

Many content creators prefer dubbing over subtitling. It is best for enhancing and maintaining engagement throughout the video. Since it frees up the screen with crowded captions, viewers are not distracted and focus on what’s happening in a particular scene.

Besides, not everyone is a good or fast reader. Some viewers might have difficulty understanding a word in their native language, while others may take longer to read the caption. By skipping subtitles and opting for dubbing, no one gets left behind.

Yes, subtitles indeed preserve the authenticity of the original content. But you can also achieve this feat by dubbing. However, you will be required to hire professional voice actors. Professional voice actors do more than just read the dialogues from the script, they use their performance and expression in dialogues to build the character and personalities of actors on screen.

Moreover, dubbing can help you overcome issues of censorship and cultural sensitivity. Sometimes, the original content contains controversial or strong dialogues. While dubbing, offensive words can be beeped out or replaced with a more culturally appropriate word. It can also be done in a subtitle through the use of asterisks, but that may be distracting.

The Downsides of Dubbing

After going through the benefits of dubbing, you might have made up your mind. But wait a minute! Read this section to learn about its potential drawbacks.

The first consideration to take is the budget. If you are on a tight budget, then dubbing is not a viable option for your project. Since it is a complex and costly technique. Moreover, professional voice actors charge by the hour.

Even though technology has streamlined dubbing, in comparison to subtitling, it is still a time-consuming process. Besides, there are many intricacies involved in the process, and even a minor mistake can lead to revision, adding to your overall production time.

What’s MORE? If you are planning to dub the content in multiple languages, then be ready to multiply the production time as well.

Besides, regardless of how much effort you put into discovering the best voice talent or directing the dubbing sessions, viewers who are hard of hearing will still prefer subtitles over it.

Subtitling vs. Dubbing

Now that you have an understanding of subtitling and dubbing, their benefits, and disadvantages, it is time to have a glance at subtitling vs. dubbing. This will help you understand the type of project each technique is best suited for and how to choose between the two, depending on their cost and quality.



It involves creating a translated textual representation of the spoken dialogue in a video.

It involves replacing the spoken dialogue in a video with a translated one performed by voice-over actors.

The process includes transcription, translation, and time coding.

The process includes translation, voice-over, and lip-synching, along with mixing and post-production.

It requires precise synchronization with the audio content.

It requires accurate lip synchronization.

It preserves the original voice performances and the authenticity of the content.

It enhances the emotional impact of the content using familiar and relatable voices.

More suitable for audiences who prefer watching videos on mute.

More suitable for audiences who face difficulty in reading, and children.

It improves accessibility for individuals with hearing impairments.

It improves accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.

It is a cost-effective solution for localizing your videos since it requires less production time and resources.

It is a more costly, complex, and time-consuming process than subtitling.

Are You CONFUSED – Thinking About Which Method to Choose?

Dump all your worries because we are going to discuss the key factors to consider while choosing a localization technique for your NEXT video project.

  • Target Market – While deciding which approach to choose for localizing your video content, think about your target audience. From region to region, viewers’ preferences differ, and the below stat is enough to provethis.
As per a survey, 76% of US and 75% of UK audiences prefer watching video content with subtitles. On the other hand, 54% of viewers in Italy and 60% of viewers in Germany prefer to watch dubbed video content.

  • Budget – It is another deciding factor. Dubbing costs you 15 times more than subtitling. Therefore, if you are tight on budget, we recommend you go for subtitling.
  • Content Type – Marketing videos are treated differently than documentaries or TV shows. Therefore, the type of project at hand will also influence the choice of technique to use. Typically, marketing videos are subbed to attract more viewers as people on social media prefer watching them on mute in public places.
  • Audience Age – Another key consideration is the age of your target audience. If your video project is intended for children, then dubbing is a more viable option than subtitling.

Bottom Line

This guide focused solely on subtitling vs. dubbing. Let’s do a QUICK RECAP! We started by explaining what is subtitling and dubbing, their pros and cons, and differences. Next, we discussed some key considerations that must be taken by any production house while deciding on the localization technique for their video content, i.e., subtitling or dubbing.

To cut it short, understand your task at hand. Is it for marketing or entertainment? Research your target audience’s preferences and age, and think about your budget. Once you find answers to all these, you will have your ANSWER.
Lime Green Media

Our multi-cultural teams do not simply “understand” customer needs; they are experts at fulfilling them. With our multi-channel solutions in place, we increase brand recognition and deliver key intelligence to our clients for core decision making.

Lime Green Media

Our multi-cultural teams do not simply “understand” customer needs; they are experts at fulfilling them. With our multi-channel solutions in place, we increase brand recognition and deliver key intelligence to our clients for core decision making.

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