Legal Supers – helpful tools

Nov 7th '19

“Supers” is the term applied to text superimposed onto ads to provide additional information, usually because it is required to be there for legal or regulatory purposes (the “small print” or “legal text”).


Following research by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), In November 2018 The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) announced they were changing the guidance around super imposed text to make them easier to read and understand for viewers. The new guidance came into effect on March 1st 2019 and the guidance note can be found below.


BCAP Guidance note

Since the beginning of March 2019, all TV adverts Clearcast assess will have to adhere to these guidelines and there have been some significant changes so please take the time to read through the changes on the ASA’s site.


To help you with the transition, Clearcast have produced a short document that should serve as a useful guide on the changes, with some examples of dos and don’ts. It’s not exhaustive but does cover the most common issues.


Clearcast guide on supers changes

Clearcast have created some useful apps that will help you get your supers right first time that you will find below and there is much more info on this page telling you what to look out for.


Height of Text

Text size is the vertical height of the text measured in terms of the number of television lines it occupies. We have developed a Test Card which helps you easily see if your supers are the right height.


Is your ad’s small print big enough? Check with our test card: Use test card


For ease of reference, here are the minimum height guidelines set by BCAP.



Duration of Hold

All text on screen at any one time must be held for a duration calculated at 0.2 seconds per word. An additional recognition period of 2 seconds (up to and including 9 words) or 3 seconds (10 words or greater) is also added. Superimposed text that is on 2 full lines or more will be calculated at 0.25 seconds per word, plus 3 seconds recognition time. You will find a breakdown of this guidance at the bottom of this page.


Do you need help calculating how long to display your legal supers? Clearcast calculator could help you but please bear in mind that timings are indicative due to the complexity of factors that may affect the required timings. Use the calculator


Identification of Text

Any text that Clearcast considers material to the acceptability of the advertisement as a whole is subject to the full force of the Guidelines. This includes text on screen which is there to fulfil legal obligations or to convey information a viewer needs so as to have a proper understanding of the offer. Text which might strike a viewer as conveying important information is also taken into account.


There will be a longer recognition period when calculating significant information. An additional 2 seconds extra recognition time will be added to all significant information. This means you can incur up to 5 seconds recognition plus 0.2 per word.


Exempted Text

Where text provides only marginal information or makes no discernible contribution to the overall understanding of the advertisement and, providing it was the only text on screen, Clearcast will not normally apply the Guidelines. Brand names are not included in the calculation of duration of hold.


Length of Text

Large blocks of text are likely to deter a viewer from even attempting to read the content. As a rule of thumb any text that take up 2 full lines or more will require a higher hold time.


In such cases the ASA and BCAP may require a minimum size of at least 16 lines and a hold duration of at least 4 words per second in addition to the recognition period. Placing the text on a mono-coloured block might be an alternative or additional remedy in cases where the type of background did not already indicate this.


Common Abbreviations

Abbreviations count as one word each. Postcodes count as two words.


Voice Over

The audio content will normally have no effect on the calculation of the size and duration of text.


Position of Text

Text that is intended to qualify an offer or claim must appear on screen at the same time as the offer or claim is made.

Superimposed text should be placed at the bottom of the screen and centred. Please refrain from placing your Superimposed text in the corners of your creative.


Overlapping Text

Where the end of one block of text overlaps with the start of another then the duration for each block is calculated independently of the other.


The underlying concept of the guidelines is basic consumer protection and where the overall message is generally clear and legible then Clearcast is prepared to be flexible within the parameters of the advice given by the ASA. In other words, their position is one of proportional and common sense judgement rather than slavish adherence to the letter of the rule.


Calculating Duration of Hold

Guidance for calculating duration of hold can be found below. Alternatively, use the duration of hold calculator


‘Short’ (9 words or less) captions: 0.2 seconds per word + 2 seconds recognition time. Number of words/duration in seconds, inclusive of recognition time.


1 words/2.2 seconds duration



‘Long’ (10 words or more) captions: 0.2 seconds per word + 3 seconds recognition time.




Source: Clearcast


How can we help!

At LS Consultancy, we offer a complete solution with a range of cost effective, compliance and marketing products and solutions including copy advice which are uniquely suited to supporting firms.


Explore our full range today.