Desktop Publishing, also known as DTP, is the process of ensuring that the layout and formatting of your document are perfect.

This is especially important if your content has just been translated. Your newly translated brochure, website, or book might suddenly contain excessive text or images that are too small or inappropriate for the language.

Desktop Publishing, especially its multilingual sibling DTP, plays an important role in any translation project. It can manage text expansion and contraction as well as optimize the final appearance of your materials.

This is what the most successful brands today know. Desktop Publishing is essential if they wish to keep the brand’s high standards, no matter what type of document or material they translate.

What is DTP (Desktop Publishing), and how can it help you?

Desktop Publishing refers to the creation of documents, websites, brochures, newsletters, PDF documents, and other digital or printed material. It is commonly referred to by DTP and is an essential part of any graphic designer’s job as well as a crucial part of any company’s communication strategy.

This is especially true if the communication is intended for international audiences. It is very unlikely that you could simply “unplug” the text from a design and translate it before plugging it back in.

True localization – the process of translating content to adapt it to local norms and expectations – is more than simply the text you read. To better serve your local audience, images, font choices, icons, graphics, color schemes, and other elements may need to be modified. This is often the job of Desktop Publishing professionals.

DTP specialists are able to perform a variety of tasks, including checking that your localized files are stylistically appropriate for your target market and checking for sentence cuts to moving text hidden behind images.

What is Desktop Publishing?

Desktop Publishing and final proofreading should be included in most translation services. WebDesignHub, for example, has its own DTP team. It’s simply that important a part of the localization services we provide.

If you want to get the best results from a translated piece of work, it is essential that you have a skillful desktop publishing job.

1) Images and colors

You will need to adapt the images and colors you use in your designs to achieve true localization.

For example, in certain cultures – especially in South-East Asia – color symbolism has a mainstream role. The wrong color choice can quickly ruin your presentation or advertising campaign. In certain areas of China, green is often associated with cuckoldry.

Other parts of the globe see gestures that appear innocent or positive in one culture as being rude or disrespectful in another. For example, in Thailand, a pat on the head is considered very bad taste. In some parts of Africa, a thumbs up is the same as a middle finger.

2) Font selection

Certain fonts are not compatible with certain characters, or they simply don’t look right for some languages. Fonts are often chosen by different regions and readers from different languages. These should always be considered.

Either way, bold and italics may not be appropriate for certain languages or are simply not used in other languages.

3) Formatting

Languages like Arabic and Hebrew can be read from left to right. This means that adapting your design to suit this often requires more than just flipping it around. Sometimes, some elements of the design need to be replicated, and others do not, depending on local norms or preferences.

Different cultures and languages require different adjustments. There are no spaces between words in Japanese or Chinese. Line breaks can occur at any point, even in the middle of words.

These are just a few of the rules and norms that govern such things. If you want your localized designs look natural to native eyes, they must be understood and properly used.

4) Space use

In many English-speaking countries, it is a common rule that websites can contain large amounts of empty space. White space between images and words is essential. A page that is too busy will be ignored by most people in the US and UK.

On the other hand, people in some Asian cultures, such as China, often actively prefer the maximum amount of space to be utilized. This could be due to the fact that many people in Asia prefer to be presented with as much information possible so that they can make a decision based on all available data.

This can lead to “analysis paralysis” in the US, UK, and Europe. This is where the preference is for a small number of clear choices.

This is an important point to remember when considering that text can shrink or expand when translated, taking up less or more space than before.

What is multilingual DTP and how does it work? What is multilingual DTP?

Multilingual DTP refers specifically to Desktop Publishing that adapts existing designs and formats ready for publication in another language. This process typically includes:

  1. Translation– The existing content, including often the localization of all elements.
  2. Typography and graphic design DTP is a key part of the DTP process. This can include typesetting the localized text, changing fonts, and modifying style sheets.
  3. ProofreadingThis vital step makes sure that you translated, typeset, and adapted designs are ready to be published digitally or in print.

Popular Desktop Publishing software and other files

There are many pieces of Desktop Publishing software available. There are simple options, which most people know well and have some experience with, as well as more advanced software that requires extensive training and can produce more complex results.

The following are some of the most popular examples of DTP software:

1) Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a simple tool that produces documents that may not require the attention of a DTP specialist.

If you’ve ever seen a document written in English and not properly spaced, formatted or clearly written by someone who does not understand English, then you’ll know that Word documents can usually benefit from at least a brief review from a DTP specialist.

2) Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint files require careful attention from a DTP specialist after translation, as they are unable to accommodate text expansion or contractions that often occur during translation.

Text translated from English to German, for example, tends to take up about 30% more space. It’s not surprising that this is a significant amount of space if it’s not planned for!

PowerPoint files can also be difficult when it comes to images. Word files are also subject to the same limitations. PowerPoint files may contain embedded text or text that is an illustration more often. These files are difficult to handle for non-experts. Experts can extract the text from an image and have their translation team do their magic. Then they can be placed back in the file, correcting any final appearance.

It is a good practice to keep your text and images separate if you plan to have any files, including PowerPoint files, translated later.

3) Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is the industry standard for publishing projects. InDesign is used to create a large number of printed materials, including brochures, posters, and documents.

There are often problems when InDesign files must be translated. Similar to text embedded within images (sometimes this is what InDesign file amounts to), the text must be extracted, translated, and then reinserted in the image.

If you want to achieve high-quality results, this needs expert attention. It is important to address all of the issues related to font, color, imagery, space, text contraction, expansion, etc.

Why not hire a professional to do your DTP?

Multilingual DTP specialists are a great choice for companies that want to be successful and avoid outsourcing the process.

1) Understanding technical and linguistic issues

It is one thing to have the knowledge and expertise necessary to use Desktop Publishing software, even the free ones available online. It’s another thing to have the knowledge to make your final design appealing and natural to people from your target culture.

In Asian languages, symbols can be double-byte. Many characters can also be BiDi (BiDirectional), while words in certain languages, such as Russian and German, can get very long. Some languages require special software or fonts to function properly.

All of this is to say that multilingual DTP requires a thorough knowledge of software and language technicalities.

2) Use cultural expertise to help with layout and appearance decisions

Many companies made the mistake in the past of thinking that they could do multilingual DTP themselves, simply because their content was translated by professionals. The results were often difficult to understand, or even funny at best. At worst, it was offensive.

Your Desktop Publishing experience can have a huge impact on the final look of your translated materials. Only high-quality output can be achieved if your multilingual DTP team has the same knowledge as your translation team about local norms and expectations.

Typographical mistakes. Unorganized layout. Compliance failures. Formatting makes it difficult to understand critical information. These mistakes, and many more, can be avoided by ensuring that your DTP team has a deep understanding of the target language and culture.

3) All files and formats covered

Language Service Providers, or LSPs, who manage your DTP will usually cover all files and formats. WDH covers them all, for example.

LSPs often work with multiple file formats. They use different software to edit and publish scripts and languages. Even well-known DTP software doesn’t always cover all of them.

4) Resource, cost-effectiveness, and time

The advantage to using the same company to translate your material and manage the Desktop Publishing aspects is that many LSPs have global teams that may be able to work around your project any time of the day. This is great for those with tight deadlines.

It saves time because your DTP team doesn’t have to consult language experts constantly to ensure that your final design is legible for someone within your target audience.

Rounds of back-and-forth revisions can be a time-consuming and costly waste of resources if DTP experts don’t know the language they’re working in.

5) A final proofread the result

A majority of translation projects should include proofreading, especially if multilingual DTP was involved. We as a language service provider, will provide professional proofreading for every project.

Complex files require more attention. You should have a final review and options to send it back to the DTP team for revisions.

Desktop Publishing is a key to producing high-quality output

It is always a bad idea to publish translated content without multilingual DTP professionals.

If you want to avoid common errors in poorly adapted work, Desktop Publishing skills will be essential.

With professional multilingual Desktop Publishing expertise, you can make sure that this crucial part of the translation process goes smoothly and cost-effectively. You will also guarantee results that are natural and compelling for someone in your target audience.

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