Today’s globalised market often requires businesses to communicate in the native language of their customers, associates, and employees. However, during translation of print or digital media assets, the new language can change the look and layout of the text and impact how viewers perceive the asset. For example, translation into some Romance languages causes the number of characters to increase, while languages such as Chinese and Japanese have distinct breaks between words, both requiring reformatting. For bi-directional languages like Arabic or Hebrew, the design will need to be inverted.
This is where multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) comes in. DTP handles these language-specific requirements so that all your assets relay the same message across countries and cultures. This is achieved using page layout design and formatting, typesetting, and graphic editing. These allow you to localise the text, font, images, and layout of your assets to fit the new target audience and match the integrity of the source, and can be done using software such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, QuarkXPress, Microsoft Office, among many others. Multilingual DTP is principally a technical service that optimises and tailors the translation and formatting of your creative assets for the increasingly global market.
When handing your native file to a DTP service, make sure to include the translatable text and folders with all the fonts, images, graphics and brand guidelines used to ensure visual consistency of the new file. This helps the service provider create material that feels like it was designed for the target foreign language and audience while maintaining the style and intent of the original. Doing this involves a number of steps, including producing PostScript and PDF documents, manipulating and formatting localised marketing assets, outlining and adapting file templates, and ensuring text and images mirror the original design once they are circulated in print or online media.
DTP in multiple languages can prove to be complicated. There may be several language layers or graphics with embedded text within the same layout file, translations of large-scale texts can cause unwanted changes in layout, or the translation may require distinct fonts for each language. In all the aforementioned cases, DTP will format and adapt the new version to maintain both legibility and its original design. With regards to fonts, some programs have international versions that come with a selection for different languages. In some cases, you will have to choose a different font that is similar enough to the original.
DTP has a wide scope in producing professional-looking multilingual content, and is used in brochures, billboards, product catalogues, creative briefs, posters, emails, ebooks, banners, marketing documentation, advertising material, as well as reformatting print assets for online use. It is essential to strategic localisation, where content represents the brand’s message or image. Errors in the layout or typography of these prominent materials will directly impact the success of the project, regardless of how well the translation is done. It is therefore important to invest in a high-quality DTP service that follows the linguistic and design standards of your target countries.
An experienced multilingual desktop publisher will have practical design skills and be familiar with multiple languages and cultures. This allows them to pick up on visual references, colour and cultural interpretations, language conventions, and other culturally appropriate questions their client may have. Leaving this to an experienced professional will save time and money, as in house designers are unlikely to possess both creative and foreign language skills. It will also help prevent potentially costly or inappropriate errors that could discredit your business. As such, DTP is a worthwhile investment for any company working in the global market.
Multilingual printing requires templates and graphics to be maintained in all the language versions, with comprehensive quality control by native speakers. Non-Latin scripts, such as Arabic, Russian, or Japanese may raise technical issues, as their characters often require dedicated software or a different operating system. Because few translators have access to InDesign, instead of using Microsoft Word or other text editors, right-to-left language texts are copy-pasted into English InDesign files (left-to-right).
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