Do All DVDs Have Subtitles?

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Do All DVDs Have Subtitles?

DVDs are incredibly popular and millions of copies of movies and TV shows have been sold on DVDs since they were released in 1996. Of course with DVDs being as popular as they have been for over 2 decades there are many people who have hearing issues or difficulty understanding the actors or actresses that prefer to only purchase DVDs that have subtitles on them. 

So, do all DVDs have subtitles? 

In almost every case DVDs will have subtitles or closed captions but that isn’t always the case. Older movies or TV shows that have been put onto DVDs but not remade or remastered will sometimes not have subtitles on them. If you absolutely need subtitles then you can check on the back of the DVD case or if purchasing online check out the details page to see if the movie or TV show comes with closed captions or subtitles. 

Some movies and TV shows not having subtitles is an issue if you need them but this issue isn’t just a problem with DVDs. Even streaming platforms will have some movies or TV shows that don’t come with closed captions as well. 

Another thing you have to look out for with subtitles is what language the subtitles are in. Sometimes the DVD will have subtitles in one language and the language that you need it in won’t have any subtitles. Make sure to check and see what languages the subtitles are in so you can be sure it's a language you actually know! 

If you end up purchasing a DVD that doesn’t come with closed captions, then you will have to watch it without captions (obviously).  This won’t be a problem if you are watching a movie of a language you’re familiar with, however, if it is in a language you’re not familiar with, or the actors have a strong accent then understanding them could be quite difficult. 

Why do people want subtitles?

Watching movies with subtitles is essential for many people to understand the content of the film properly. However, subtitles deserve more importance than they’re given. Here’s why:


For anyone who is visually and phonetically capable, not having closed captions is not a problem. However, there are many people who may have hearing issues and not be able to hear the audio correctly. As we know, films or shows should be able to be enjoyed by everyone and it would be unfair on the part of the film fraternity to limit their access for these individuals. Hence, usually all modern movies and TV shows come equipped with closed captions for greater accessibility among the masses.


In the olden days, there was always the problem of language barriers. No matter how great the piece of work was, it was always restricted to the boundaries of language. However, since the arrival of subtitles, there is no limit to art. Now, a person sitting in America can easily watch a Bollywood Hindi movie thanks to subtitles.


Artists work very hard to spread a message, to create awareness and to make all kinds of art that people can relate to on a personal level. It would be unfair for them if their art was restricted to a region because of the language barrier. Subtitles play a great role in giving the artist’s work more reach than it would if it had no subtitles.

Adding subtitles

Adding subtitles to a movie or TV show is not as easy as it seems. A little mistake and it might result in a big misinterpretation of the artist’s work. This could be very damaging to the artist and to their career. There could also be some legal implications if the artist finds the subtitles disrespectful in any way.

Here are few points that the professionals take into consideration before adding any kind of subtitles:

  • Frames: There are about 24 frames in each second of a video. A person who is adding subtitles needs to consider this frame rate in order for the subtitles to arrive at the right place and time. Many times, the audio and video of the movie is not synced with the subtitles. This may be annoying for many as a result of which the quality of the DVD may be harmed.
  • Disappearance Of Text: You have to make sure not only of the timing of the appearance of the text of the subtitles but also when they disappear. You have to make sure that the text doesn’t overlap each other from frame to frame. This is why considering the frame rate is so necessary.
  • A bit of modification may be required: sometimes it is necessary that you modify the original words a bit for better understanding of the viewer. This is especially true when the subtitles will be in a different language than the speaker. However, people who do subtitles will always try to keep modifications to a minimum in order to maintain the authenticity of the dialogues or lyrics.
  • Limited Subtitles: Subtitles should remain limited to 12-15 characters per second. Accommodating more characters than this will result in overlapping of texts and difficulty for the reader to follow along fast enough.

How to Make Perfect Subtitles?

To make subtitles work perfectly with the movie or TV show the people in charge of adding the subtitles have to make sure to follow some simple rules. 

  • AVOID SLANGS: try and avoid adding the slangs in the dialogues in your subtitles.
  • Arrange the subtitles in two sentences one below the other.
  • Try and size the text in such a way that it doesn’t cover a large screen space. Avoid using very large text.
  • Try and not use too fancy text. The aim of subtitles is to make them easy to read and not look fancy.
  • Space the text in such a way that it isn’t clustered together and the words are easy to read.
  • Try and use colors like white or yellow that stand out against the background video and can be read easily.
  • Avoid spelling mistakes and typos as they may create a misunderstanding.

By now, you should certainly understand that putting subtitles on movies and TV shows is far from easy. Subtitles on shows that are airing live are even more difficult and you will find a lot more errors in the live subtitles than you will on things that are pre recorded (like movies and shows). 

Why are some DVDs not subtitled?

Now coming to DVDs, we can say that not all DVDs are captioned. There are a variety of reasons why but below we will give a few of the more common reasons:

  • Age of the movie or show: The most common reason that a DVD would not have subtitles is because the movie or show was made before it was common practice to include them. Going back and adding subtitles to these movies or shows would be a large undertaking and won’t happen in many instances. 
  • Country where the movie or show was released: Many countries around the world don’t require DVDs to have subtitles on them. So if you are purchasing a movie or show from one of those countries then the subtitles might not be available on that DVD. 
  • Availability: Many regions have limited availability of distributors for subtitles and have to send them overseas and use a separate service. This often needs a big budget which some people are unable to afford. Hence, they avoid subtitles all together.
  • Space: Adding subtitles to DVDs would require extra space. Film houses would have to accommodate more data in the same amount of space on the disc. This is very difficult considering DVDs already have limited space. Overloading the DVD with content would result in malfunctioning of the audio and video and the overall quality of the DVD will be harmed.
  • Documentaries, news reports and other genres are less likely to be captioned than the mainstream content from the entertainment genre.
  • A distributor needs to have a labelling system for content with closed captions. This may be an expensive and an out of budget thing to do for most and hence they avid DVDs entirely.
  • DVDs with closed captions are usually more expensive than DVDs without captions and still don’t guarantee a bigger buyer base.
  • Whether it be online or offline, availability of DVDs having all features is limited and hence finding your favourite DVD with closed captions may be hard work for you.


Most DVDs will have subtitles in at least the language that the movie or show was released in. Older shows or shows from other countries are less likely to have closed captions so if subtitles are something that you must have then it is a good idea to check with the online store or look on the back of the DVD case and see if they are included on that movie or set. 

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