Desktop publishing services: how do companies translate design documents?

Published on April 13th, 2017

desktop publishing services

Working with text documents is a relatively straightforward process but what happens when you have design work that needs translating into various languages? You won’t get very far with spreadsheets and word documents on projects like this and you may need more than your typical language expert to make your designs multilingual.

This is where we call on something called desktop publishing services (DTP), which combines linguistic expertise with industry-leading software to translate your design documents for every language you need.


Desktop publishing services, or the art of visual translation

As with any translation project, the key to keeping things cost-effective is having the right workflow in place. When it comes to design work, you don’t want to be recreating documents for every language; you want a master copy you can make the necessary tweaks to.

So, let’s say you have a graphic created in Adobe Illustrator. You want the editable .ai file to hand and translators with two things: Adobe Illustrator and the skills to use the software so they can handle the whole translation process for you.

You don’t want a translator handing you a word document with translated text, expecting you to insert it into the document yourself. This creates a lot of room for error and you won’t be able to proofread for accuracy.

This is why desktop publishing services are so important when you have documents created in specialist software. Your translators need the skills to edit your files and potentially make some critical design choices in the same process.


The impact of translation on design

One of the biggest challenges with handling translated text is the change in size, which can be quite drastic at times. Normally, when you’re translating from English into another language the text will become longer and this can have a major impact on the layout of your design.

You may find translated text breaks the layout while reducing text size to compensate can look awkward or even illegible. Your designer made a lot of strict, often subtle, artistic choices while creating this design and your translated text has just trampled all over it.

So you may even find your translator needs to collaborate with the designer to find the right balance between adaptation and staying true to the original design. If visual changes need to be made, you want to know they’re in the best interest of your brand’s original message.


Translation may not be enough

When translation runs into problems and it comes to changing more than just words alone, we’re moving into localisation territory. While the main function of desktop publishing services is to execute your project in the same piece (and version) of software you created your original document in, we often have to combine this service with localisation for design projects.

We’ve already touched on the implications of word length but designs communicate in more ways than words alone and you want to be sure you’re saying the right thing across the board.

For example, certain colour schemes will have more of a positive/negative effect on some audiences than others. Likewise, a different choice of fonts might be more suitable for any given language and you’ll find some don’t support certain scripts (think Chinese characters, Arabic, etc.).

There will be times where a translated word or combination simply doesn’t fit into your design, or forces you to make too many compromises. In these cases, your only option might be to go with slightly different wording. Your translator may be able to come up with alternative options but any creative language like slogans could need transcreation to ensure the translated version has the same kind of impact as the original.


If you need more information on our desktop publishing services or how we go about translating design projects, get in touch with our team of experts today.



Posted on: April 13th, 2017