[Athen] Captioning guidelines / best practices

Gaeir Dietrich gdietrich at htctu.net
Tue Apr 26 16:51:30 PDT 2016

When it comes to guidance, I use the DCMP Captioning Key:



I’m not sure there is a specific guideline for characters per line since that is generally determined by the software and hardware used to show the captions. Instead, it seems that the focus is on words per minute:

“Each word is counted when calculating the presentation rate, as opposed to basing the calculation on the number of characters. In addition, speaker identification, sound effects, and other similar elements must be included in the calculations.

“All lower-level educational media should optimally be captioned at a presentation rate not to exceed 130 words per minute (wpm), middle-level not to exceed 140 wpm, and upper-level not to exceed 160 wpm. However, as stated above, the original meaning, content, and essential vocabulary must be maintained. Achieving optimum rates is more difficult when complex new concepts and vocabulary are introduced in a media production.”

Good luck!


Gaeir (rhymes with "fire") Dietrich
HTCTU Director


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Howard Kramer
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2016 8:09 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Cc: Lily Bond
Subject: [Athen] Captioning guidelines / best practices

I've noticed different guidelines for line length for captions. I believe NCAM says a maximum of 34 characters per line but the Amara tool at amara.org suggests 42 characters per line maximum. I think the Australian standard recommends 40 characters max. And consensus on best practices. And some recommend adding three dots before and after lines that continue or are continuations of a longer sentence. Is that a best practice?

Thanks in advance,



Howard Kramer

Conference Coordinator

Accessing Higher Ground


cell: 720-351-8668

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