First thing first, this is for advanced editors or translators. Don’t think that style is an excuse for errors. If you are not advanced, this may give you a false sense of security.

What do I mean by style?

As you know, there are two big ways of writing English: American and British. They can be considered the two major styles in English, but they are not enough.

I prefer to use American English, because I think is more ”stylish.”

There are two ways to look at style:

1) To follow rules some editing houses, universities, and whatnot have set. i.g., The Chicago Manual of Style.

2)To choose what is best for each sentence, while, probably, keeping  point #1 true.

Style doesn not mean changing everything randomly as you see fit. Maybe if you are an experienced writer, but barely any writters do that. It hurts.

Things that are mostly affected by style are:

A) Capital Letters: Rules for capitalizing are pretty much set in stone. There is one, however, that give us something to play with.

”Lookie! There is The President!”

Some people seem to apotheosize the president, hence the capital letters.

Another one that I see quite often , especially in anime, is this one.

”Cowabunga! The Student Council Representative is the coolest!”

This sentence should never be capitalized; it’s wrong.
Everyone seems to randomly capitalize everything regarding a student council. And, more often than not, you do not have to.

B) Emphasis: This is a tricky one. I’ll leave the proper explanation for when its time comes.

”Hey, you killed her, right??”

Just use italics on a word, depending on what you want to emphasize. You, killed, her, all of them work. But just use one, please. What is tricky about that? Well, you do not have to emphasize words. That will be covered in the respective Emphasis post.

                                                     Unlimited Emphasis Works!

C) Punctuation : Oh my! This is the trickiest one.

”Please save me!”

A comma is almost always the right way to go, but depending on the context, you may want to get rid of it and let the sentence flow better.

”He is not right…”

First, whether ellipsis is right or wrong here will be discussed later. This is an style issue, however. This is a sentence, right? Don’t all sentences end with a full stop? Where is the full stop? Most people, in fansubbing at least, think that is the rule, when it is actually an issue of style. We will talk about this later as well.


”He is not right. …”
”He is not right. . . .”
”He is not right… .”

Those should be the options. I prefer the third one.

”I went to the park. I saw mommy and daddy.”

Oh! The ever-lasting battle between semicolons and full stops! I do not know if everyone hates the semicolon, or just don’t know how to use it. Full stop is usually a safe bet, when in doubt, but try not to leave behind our dear friend: the semicolon.

A wise man once said:

”Full stop is usually a safe bet, when in doubt.”

Em dash. You cannot be wrong with either. Choose whatever one you prefer.

”Full stop is, usually, a safe bet—when in doubt.”

If I’m gonna use an em dash, putting usually between commas makes the sentence looks better. Another thing, it’s not recommended to surround the em dash with spaces, but in fansubbing it matters not.

D) Spelling: I was not going to write about this, but here it is!

”I can not go there!”

Can’t, cannot, can not.
Cant’: Worst possible choice.
Cannot: Average way to write it.
Can not: Use to emphasize.

However, neither is actually wrong, but if you want to be safe, go with cannot.

This was all written with American English in mind. And there are more cases regarding style. i.e., should we start a sentence with the word and?

This is lenghty enough, and you now know what style is all about.

Next topic may be about editing itself. I’ll probably stick with what I said in the introduction, though.


7 thoughts on “Style

      • Just keep this in mind: There’s a reason you’re looking for an editor. Someone who speaks neither English nor Japanese as a first language translating between the two can’t churn out a great script on their own.

        ”He is not right… .” Yeah, no. Also, contractions are your friend. Especially in kids shows.

        I’m sure your translations are stellar, really. This isn’t a personal jab or anything. Come on down to #SHT on Rizon sometime, we’d love to have you~

  1. Klownzie says:

    First, what is wrong with my English? Someone who has English as their first language should only be better than me in two things: Idioms and amount of words they know. They should yet most are not.

    I happen to be an editor as well. I QC for lots of groups, and my English is way better than theirs, or at least that is what it looks like.

    ”He is not right… .” Why not? Contractions are not used in formal writing. Yes, I use contractions whenever I fansub, but they do not quite fit in a post about writing.

    I know. I appreciate the criticism, but try to explain better why are you saying this or that is wrong. I would love to, but sadly, I cannot. I already work for six fansub groups and have real-life obligations, too. Thank you, though.

    • I actually wasn’t trying to recruit you, Klownzie (though we’d be happy to have you!) I was actually just seeing if you wanted to hang out and talk about fansubbing and shit.

      There’s nothing at all wrong with your English, but writing (or in this case, editing) dialogue relies on a deep understanding of word choice and complexity of character as it relates to speech patterns. Screenwriting is my thing, and it’s always absurdly obvious to me when a fansub script either wasn’t edited or was edited by someone who’s ESL. The script can be correct and accurate, but not an accurate depiction of native English speakers talking. Fansubs aren’t formal writing. You’re not writing an essay. You’re relaying spoken word to someone (hopefully more than just someone, but for argument’s sake) who relies on that interpretation to feel secure in understanding the ins and outs of what they’re hearing. Shying away from contractions makes the dialogue seem stale and robotic… especially in shows like Beyblade where, though the dialogue can be stiff and almost alien at times, people tend to talk like regular, modern day people. I don’t often hear 11 year olds say ‘can not’ unless they’re being pointedly dramatic.

      Hoshikazu, we are up to our ears in fantastic editors. I myself am an editor, and love the work I do. Thanks for trying to help, though~ 😀

      • Klownzie says:

        I thinking too high of myself, huh? That is a good idea, I will.

        Do not get me wrong, I understand that completely. I always use contractions when editing, unless I want to emphasize something or for whatever reason, and I know I have to edit according to what is happening. I am not to worried about using the wrong or correct word for each scenario, because I try to stay faithful to what the TL did.

        Please, do not think that the way I write in this fansubbing posts is the way I edit. I just thought being formal is the correct way to go.

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