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Multilingual Desktop Publishing: How to Prepare Documents

7th August 2020
Reading time 4 min
Multilingual Desktop Publishing: How to Prepare Documents

Desktop publishing (DTP) involves creating layouts, and formatting documents and graphics using DTP software along with personal skills which allow the creation of print materials, such as presentations, user manuals, menus, magazines and even books. Multilingual DTP involves recreating these translated documents so that they are as similar to the original source document as possible in terms of layout and design.

”Even the smallest layout or formatting issues can cause a bad reaction within your target audience, no matter how great the translation.”

Getting Started

The original source template may not remain in its original format after translation work is completed. The DTP specialist should evaluate the source file and identify any potential issues. Creating a template that can implement all of the targeted languages will save time and money. For example, German and Finnish words are much longer than words in English, so there must be plenty of space for translated text. Once this step, referred to as document internalisation, is finalised, localisation work can be done quickly and within budget.

1. Text Preparation The DTP specialist takes the text from the original source file into a file format that is best for the type of content that needs localisation.

2. Translation The linguist translates the source text, using assets that ensure quality and consistency, such as Translation Memory, terminology bases, glossaries and style guides.

Translators should not type directly into the source file for a number of reasons. Firstly, many translators are not DTP specialists and don’t have a clear understanding of tools like FrameMaker or InDesign. Linguists who are unfamiliar with these programs may not know how to realign texts if translation lengths are longer than the source copy length. Secondly, typing into the source file prohibits linguists from using Translation Memory. This means that past translations or repeated content are not utilised throughout the rest of the translation project.

3. Edit and proof A second linguist (or anyone besides the original linguist) proofreads the translation in order to avoid any typos, grammatical errors or mistranslations.

4. Text import The DTP specialist imports the translated copy into the original file format, so that the new copy replaces the source text in the layout.

5. Linguistic QA Next, quality assurance is performed after the translation. Automated options include a spell-check in target languages, a punctuation check, a terminology consistency check (against a pre-set glossary), text not translated, date and time formatting, etc.

6. Final design Now, the DTP specialist works on the new layout. Sometimes the localised layout may differ from the original. The template used should avoid text boxes, fonts, graphics, margins or page numbers, as these can easily be added later and will likely need to be adjusted anyway. the new layout may need some adjustments because of new text length or other translation elements.

7. Design QA Finally, a linguist makes a page-by-page comparison of the layout against the source materials. This is done to ensure that the translation version is as similar to the original content as possible.

8. Client review Many clients request to review content before it is finalised. Changes should be made according to their feedback.

9. Delivery The final result of transcreation is a deliverable in the original file format, with minor changes in the look and feel, according to the languages requested. Even the smallest layout or formatting issues can cause a bad reaction within your target audience, no matter how great the translation. This is even more apparent on materials, such as marketing communications, digital or print advertising and packaging. Using a DTP specialist is vital before distribution.

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