Multilingual DTP FAQ
What is multilingual desktop publishing (DTP)?
When would I need multilingual desktop publishing (DTP)?
What is the process?
1) Extraction of English text for delivery to translation team (If the original English text is available in a standard translatable format (e.g., Word, RTF, or TXT format), the desktop publisher will not need to extract the text and it will be sent directly to the translation team.)
2) Translation of original English text (This is of course done by the translator and proofreader, not by the desktop publisher.)
3) Insertion of translated text into the foreign language version of the document (Because a multilingual desktop publisher doesn’t necessarily speak all of the languages they work with, many DTP professionals will insert special symbols in the text extraction so that they know exactly where to place the translated text when it comes back from the translator.)
4) Adjusting and formatting to match the original (With special attention to columns, alignment, images, flow, fonts, etc.)
What platforms and software are used for multilingual DTP?
Unfortunately, certain language types (including Arabic, Chinese, etc.) may require specific versions of desktop publishing software, so it may be necessary to transfer your original document to a different platform. Although this would limit your internal ability to modify the document, it is unlikely that this would be needed except in very rare circumstances. In these cases, PDF versions are commonly used for delivery of the final document and printing companies are able to handle both Mac and PC documents.
Some desktop publishing softwareare indeed compatible with both platforms, but other issues can arise, especially with images and fonts. Also, with Indian languages there is a big time issue of fonts compatibility, but we have a mid way solution and a process to resolve this issue. The font changes its character image and it needs to be put manually via symbols or glyphs. We have to be selective for choosing between Unicode and True Type Fonts for the type of DTP publishing requirements. For web publishing we use Unicode Font and For Print Publishing we use TTF font. Also, all translators don’t know how to type in both the fonts and a font converter is used to convert between the fonts in which again there is a character problem which needs to be resolved manually via symbols or glyphs. Spacing needs to be maintained in Indian fonts as the font size. Bold command doesn’t support with some fonts in some software and it is given an outline to bold the same.
What fonts are used?
Even on a single platform, there is no guarantee that the desktop publisher will have the same font that you used in your design process (specifically in cases where you are using a very unique or creative font). In those cases, you will be asked to send the font along with the document (as well as any images that need to be included).
In addition, some fonts do not have the full breadth of international characters required for multilingual desktop publishing. Although the font may be very attractive in the English version of the document, it happens that the font must be changed to allow for accented characters and symbols. In those cases, the foreign language versions will look slightly different from the original English. Desktop publishers, however, do their best to find a similar looking font when possible, to minimize any change in the appearance of your document.
What are some of the tips to follow for a perfect DTP?
Many problems can be avoided if the graphic designer who creates the original English layout keeps in mind that the document may be later translated into other languages. Sometimes, an attractive and very professional design in English can be a nightmare when the multilingual desktop publisher has to insert the translation into the final files.
Therefore, here are some tips on how to prepare your English document to make the translation and desktop publishing process run as smoothly as possible:
Prepare for Text Expansion:
When you consider that a document might need to be reformatted or repaginated due to text expansion, for not just one language but for five or twenty languages, the enormity of the task becomes clear.
Consider Hyphens and Column Width:
To avoid these difficulties, choose simple or standard fonts and keep the font effects (bold, italics, underlining, color, and shading) to a minimum. Italics and underlining may distort Asian characters.
Choose Icons and Images Carefully:
TIP! Limit the use off images that have embedded text.
Send the Final Version Only:
Provide a PDF:
Don’t Forget “Standard” Document Sizes:
Deliver All the Pieces:
TIP! Use compression software to transfer files, fonts, and
TIP! Save time and money by organizing a multilingual project beforehand.
The Review Process
Reviewing the Translation:
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While suggestions to improve the layout to meet your expectations are appreciated and necessary, this is not the time to change the layout, substitute pictures, or “add a little section.” These changes may involve reworking entire pages or sections, which takes time and therefore can impact the budget.
Mark the Proof Appropriately:
TIP! All comments provided to the desktop publishers must be in English only. As it is likely that they might not speak same language (or 2 or 3!), and the possibility is that they might not necessarily understand all languages.