When dubbing, since making the subtitles from translated works would need more people and money, a cheaper option is preferred: written text read aloud, including the main credits, since simply reading them was cheaper. These are called "Insertos" in Latin American dub lingo, where it's pretty much an Omnipresent Trope
More often than not, the actor reading the "Insertos" also provides the voice of one of the main characters, reading the "Insertos" in his normal voice, or in-character if interacting with said object fits with the plot (reading a letter, holding a product, etc.). As you can imagine, this can be a bit annoying to people not familiar with it, but not in countries where it's common.
Since the arrival of new technology, making subtitles is something far easier. Nonetheless, this still goes on, either from force of habit or, perhaps, the assumption that Viewers Are Morons
who can't read and listen at the same time.
Variations include reading exactly what's on the signs and then translating it ("Escuela
, that means school"), or making a comment while translating (instead of "hair tonic" is "Now, we will add some hair tonic").
Not to be confused with Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud
- From Mexico to the Latin American market, this was done by Humberto Velez, who provided the voice of Homer Simpson for 15 years in The Simpsons before leaving along with all the main cast for contractual disputes. Now, from all the people, the actor who does the voice of Carl does the reading.
- In Germany, the signs in Simpsons episodes are very often read by the voice of Fry.
- Also from Mexico, Jorge Arvizu, considered the Mexican Mel Blanc, would usually read these on old Merrie Melodies cartoons, more often than not adding some Gag Dub.
- Thanks to Lucky Translation, this made a Running Gag in Sheep in the Big City (a little guy who likes to read, so whenever a sign appears on-screen he pops up and reads it out loud) many times funnier.
- In European Portuguese, it's usually done as one character is actually reading the sign. Thus, if character A is the one looking at the sign, it will be his/her voice reading it. However, early anime dubs had the narrator read it, and sometimes overlapping with the actual character's dialogue.
- In the dub for Dragon Ball, the signs would sometimes have a clear French subtitle underneath (left in since that's the version the portuguese dub takes after), but the narrator would still read over it.
- For some reason, the Disney Channel dubs do both subtitles and voice-over, making it redundant and annoying.
- Many German DVD releases do the same, usually with different translations of the same sign.
- This is common practice in Polish dubs of foreign animation (such as Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry), usually with a separate actor solely for reading the Insertos.
- This was extensively used for Looney Tunes in France, usually with a narrator voice but sometimes with a relevant character's voice (The Rabbit of Seville used Bugs Bunny's voice for jar labels and such).
- Also very common in German dubs of animated works, but can even crop up in live-action works.
- Used in the English dub of The Millennium Trilogy films, probably necessitated by the story's heavy focus on people looking at computer screens. Occasionally backed up by on-screen subtitled translations as well.
- Waynes World has the "Gratuitous Sex Scene" with corresponding flashing subtitle. In English, Wayne conveniently says, "Excellent!" Conveniently because this can easily be replaced by a translation of the subtitle, and in German it is.
- The Spanish dub of KaBlam! often has a narrator reading the title cards of the various shorts.
- The Japanese dub of The Powerpuff Girls has the Narrator read most of the written text that appears. This works very naturally, since the Narrator is already a prominent character in the show.
- The German dub of Recess makes use of this by a narrator.
- Very, very frequent in the France French dub of Family Guy. To the point that, when a "do not pull" sign was displayed three times in a row, the narrator read it out loud each of the three times.
- The French-Canadian dub of The Simpsons zig-zags between having characters read English signs out loud (making it sound like part of the dialogue) and displaying subtitles for them.
- In the Czech dub of The X-Files, there was always a voice actor hired specifically to read aloud the locations and time stamps. There were two of them throughout the show's nine-season run. In addition, there was inserted info about who dubs the leads' into the theme song. One of those "title guys" would later dub Langly of the Lone Gunmen trio, but fans did not complain. Needless to say, their memetic "FBI Headquarters, Washington DC" was well-loved.
- Later seasons in the Italian dub of The Fairly Oddparents do it. The weird thing is that is Crocker's voice doing it, even for the writing in the poofs.