Captioning mathematics

We occasionally have orders to caption mathematics. We use slightly different rules than our general rules for numbering. For readability, we try to keep everything consistent with the usual rules of writing out maths, however, there are certain symbols which can’t be encoded in captions.

Rules of thumb

  • Numbers should be formatted numerically in formulas regardless of value.
  • Letters in formulas should be formatted the same as they appear in the media.
    If there’s no visual media, format as lowercase unless indicated in the speech.
    For example – “N times X over uppercase T” would be written as “n*x/T”.
  • If the speaker is saying full words but writing abbreviations, always caption what is said.
  • Don’t use symbols like exponents, the degree symbol or fraction characters.
  • The # sign is used to indicate singing, so only use it if it appears in the media.
  • Use * for ‘times’, as x is often used as a value.

Quick tip – an easy way to determine how to format something is to see if the symbol is on a basic keyboard. If it’s not, spell it out.

Captioning numbers, but not maths? We’ve got slightly different standards –
check ’em out!

More questions? See our Recorded Captioning Style Guide.

Updated on September 9, 2020

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