DTP translation: how to prepare digital files for multiple languages

Published on December 8th, 2017

dtp translation

Preparing digital files for multiple languages brings the two niches of DTP services – DTP translation and design together. Whether you’re creating posters for print or a presentation for the boardroom, you can’t just go ahead and chuck in a load of translated text.

Your layouts and design elements will change as part of the DTP translation process – there’s no getting away from this. You can either design your piece first and think about DTP translation later or plan ahead and create a workflow that makes translating your digital files much easier.


What is DTP translation?

DTP translation (or desktop publishing translation) is the adaptation of digital files for multiple languages. It combines language experts with designers to keep your designs as consistent as possible between different languages. Our desktop publishing services work in one of two ways: we can adapt your existing files or help you create a design process that makes files more suitable for DTP translation from the outset.


Preparing your designs for multiple languages

To give you an idea of what DTP translation involves, here’s how you can prepare your files for multiple languages.


  • Design with text expansion in mind: When you translate text into another language it tends to expand or contract, taking up more or less space than the original layout. Translating English into other languages normally results in text expansion, which means your text will take up more physical space and you may also need to adjust your formatting (line breaks, spacing, etc.)


  • Plan ahead with your font choices: Your font choices aren’t going to support every language. You might have accents missing, certain punctuation marks that aren’t there for languages like Spanish or Italian. You could have entire letters missing and your Latin alphabet fonts aren’t going to help with Greek, Russian, Chinese or any other language based on another writing system.


  • Stick to simple layouts: The more complex your layouts are, the more susceptible they’ll be to breaking due to text expansion or other variations in the DTP translation Grid designs are particularly fragile and any design without much whitespace to work with can cause problems. Take the minimal approach, use plenty of whitespace and anticipate what might change as you translate your documents


  • Localise your motifs/visuals: Your print ads for Japanese audiences probably wants to look very different than your ad for UK prospects. The entire motif of your design – including font choices, colours, graphics and other visuals – should be localised to resonate with each target market.


Already got files that need translating?

If you’ve already got digital files that need translating or you don’t want to get involved in the adaptation process, that’s fine – this is what DTP translation services are there for.

We can take your files in any format and adapt them for multiple languages while staying as close to the original design as possible. This can be ideal for something like CAD designs where the core design itself doesn’t really need to change. Likewise, if you have a back catalogue of files that need translating, it might be easier to outsource the lot and concentrate on what you do best.

Once your documents are translated, you’ll receive them in the same format you sent them over in, ready for print, publishing or whatever distribution channel you’re using – that’s how our DTP services work.


Adapting digital files for multiple languages can be tricky but planning ahead can really help. Even if you don’t do this preparation in-house, working closely with an agency that provides DTP services can set you up with a workflow that makes the entire process easier and faster. Above all, this will prevent you from making design choices that complicate the translation and localisation of your documents further down the line.

Posted on: December 8th, 2017