This brief description of captioning style was distilled from the Media Access Group at WGBH's in-house reference manual. It is being made available in the hope that exchanging our ideas might move the captioning industry at large toward a greater consistency of style.
Just as the English language has a multitude of exceptions to its general rules, so does captioning. It is not an exact science. The practices we describe here are the result of 30 years of experience in the captioning industry, an industry which is constantly evolving. Therefore, use this material as a basis for making individual decisions about readability, not as a set of rules to be followed without question. The captioner is, however, strongly advised to consider consistency when making decisions about caption style. Aim for a style that consistently conveys information in a clear, logical manner, using stylistic rules and conventions in a way that makes it easy for the viewer to understand and interpret the text.