DTP – Have you covered all the angles?

It is amazing where translation tools have taken us in the last decade. You can feed an exported file from many DTP applications, get it translated and proofread, and then automatically populate the translations back in place in the original file with just a few clicks. Obviously, you will need to account for text expansion, resize texts boxes and adjust fonts, but all that beats the old copy-paste technique, any day, any time.

Most designers now days are familiar with this approach and often complete the post-translation DTP adjustments themselves in languages they do not speak or read. Typesetting other languages is not any different from your own, but you should really know some basic rules, like word and character-based rules, the line-breaking rule for East Asian languages for instance, where certain characters should not come at the start of a line, and some characters should never be split up across two lines, etc.

But even riskier is manually typesetting in a language they don’t speak. As non-speakers, they can potentially introduce hyphenation, capitalization or punctuation errors. They may take for granted font selection and choosing hipper looking font families that do not support even the most common West European accents.

If you are preparing to create your Company Brochure in English to be translated into other languages and want to make sure it looks perfect, here are a few tips to follow in the original layout that will reduce headaches from foreign DTP:

  • Leave plenty of white space.
  • Avoid a font size that is too small (if you are using 6 pt already, it may need to come down to a tiny 4 pt).
  • Leave a respectable amount of leading (the space between lines).
  • If there is a lot of text for too few pages and you can see that it is going to get tighter in the foreign version, you may need to edit the text down.
  • Make sure the fonts you are using support foreign characters.