Syncing Subtitles with Subtitle Edit

by dny238


      There are two major styles of sync that will be covered in this guide. First, we'll cover how to sync a file produced by the capture of a Closed Captioned broadcast (CC Sync). These files inherently have some offset consistency. However, they typically need to have the captions from commercials removed.

      The second style of sync covered by this guide is a more difficult process of syncing a file which has very little internal consistency, meaning every line needs to be corrected individually (Random Sync). There are several other situations you may encounter, including files which have a frame rate issues and appear to drift consistently, but this guide won't cover those issues yet. 

      There is also an activity of 'Correcting' the subtitle. This process looks to corrected a variety of issues with the text: Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuational, Formatting, etc. This guide won't fully cover the process of correction either. 


  1. Get a copy of Subtitle Edit (SE) from
  2. Get a subtitle you wish to sync
  3. Get a video you wish to sync against
  4. Rename the subtitle to match the name of the video, only the extension should be different. (Video.avi, This will help SE find the proper video automatically.
  5. Save the subtitle in the same directory as the video and open it with SE.

CC Sync

  1. Before you correct start to correct the sync, it's best to run the 'Fix common errors...' tool. In addition to a number of style improvements, this will correct any overlapping problems in the subtitle and make sure none of the lines are too quick. These overlaps can be very confusing when you're getting started.
  2. Now you are ready to start the sync. Double click the first line of the file. This will open the 'Create/Adjust lines' view.
  3. Highlight and Read the first line of the subtitle
  4. Hit the 'Play/Pause' button to start the video preview.
  5. Once you hear the the first line, hit '< 3 Seconds' to give yourself a chance get it right.
  6. Hit 'Play/Pause' right as the line starts
  7. Hit '< ½ Seconds' to position the video 'head' right before your line.
  8. Make sure you've properly highlighted the appropriate line in the list on the right.
  9. Hit 'Set Start and offset the rest'. This button with move the start time of the highlighted line to match the position of the video play head. The remaining lines in the file are adjusted by whatever amount the highlighted line was adjusted by. The net result is that if you timed it right, you've now synced this file up to the first commercial.
  10. Hit 'Play/Pause' or double click the line in the list to start the video playing from the position. If the offset appears to be corrected let the video roll.
  11. After reviewing a few lines, if there aren't any issues hit the '> 1 minute' to advance your position in the file and preview a few lines. If there are consistent offset issues, back up until you don't have the problem any more and offset the lines as necessary by repeating steps 3-10.
  12. Eventually you'll encounter the commercial break in the subtitle file, the lines of dialog in the preview won't match the video at all. Back the video up until you find where the first line of dialog starts again (after where the commercials were removed).
  13. Highlight the first line of the commercials, scroll down until you read that first line of dialog you heard in step 10. Shift click to highlight the entire commercial block and hit delete to remove them.
  14. Repeats steps 2-7 to get the subtitle back in sync from here on down.
  15. This process of sync and review until the entire file is corrected
  16. Give yourself credit by inserting two new subtitle lines, one towards the start and one at the end. We recommend something like synced by dny238 /
  17. Close the 'Create / Adjust lines' dialog.
  18. Rerun the 'Fix common errors...' to reconcile any overlaps you may have created lining things up.
  19. Save the file.
  20. You are done! Upload the video to the site and move on to the next sync.
  21. If you have a few extra minutes considering doing some quick corrections. Typically a proper corrector will follow you, but depending on your work load there are a few quick things you can do to make your product cleaner.
  22. Start by using 'Change case', this will attempt to fix capitalization issues in the file. This is quick.
  23. Next run a spell check, a more time consuming process. In addition to typos and glitches, it's common to fine more names during spell check which were missed. Correct them on the line supplied and add them to the names file to save yourself time in the future.

Random Sync

This process is inherently slower than CC Sync because every line is potentially wrong. Hopefully, we can at least get close to realtime sync using the process described below. The concept here is that most dialog follows immediately after the line before it, so all you need to do is tell the program when each line ends and it'll automatically set the start time on the subsequent line. Said again more simply, you watch the video, at the end of each line hit control-e. The program will set the end of that line, and move itself to the next line. Repeat.  

  1. Double click the first line of dialog to open the 'Create/adjust lines'.
  2. Highlight the first line in the subtitle.
  3. Hit 'Play/Pause' to start the video
  4. Once you hear the line start, pause the video, back it up and hit 'Set start and offset the rest' as described above, or use 'Set start time' or Cntl-S to set the start position.  This button doesn't adjust the end time, so use it cautiously, you're committing to adjusting the lines end time manually too.
  5. Back the video up 3 seconds to give yourself time to review your work and get ready.
  6. After the video plays the dialog on your line, hit 'Set end time' or preferably Cntl-E right as the dialog on the current line ends. This sets the end time of the current line. It then advances the selection to the next line and sets it's start position.
  7. If the dialog follows immediately, you're all set. If not hit, Cntl-S repeatedly until right before the dialog starts again. This takes some practice and you can pause if necessary, adjust the play head and hit the button at exactly the right position, then continue.
  8. Let the video play and hit Cntl-E at the end of the next line. Repeat for each line of the file.
  9. Most of the time you can sync a file at near real-time.