DTP And Document Translation Services
Businesses that reach out to international and multilingual audiences with any type of written documents require professional translation and DTP (desktop publishing) services. Quality language and DTP agencies can help those businesses ensure that their documents are error-free, visually appealing and fulfil their purpose. This article provides a very short introduction to the basics of DTP, discusses how desktop publishing helps make the most of translated documents and explains why it is important to select a service provider that handles DTP and translation under one single roof.
The background of desktop publishing
The meaning of DTP cannot be overestimated. In fact, DTP was probably the greatest innovation in the history of printing since the 9th century, when the first prints were produced in East Asia (or the 15th century, when Guttenberg invented the technique in Europe, respectively). Though there were several milestones in the development of printing before DTP (such as Watt’s copying machine in the 18th century or the invention of the typewriter in the 19th century), no technology could really produce the high-quality design that we are used to now. Arranging text, illustrations, etc. was extremely tedious and required usage of expensive specialized machinery. The 1980s, when DTP had gained prominence, eventually transformed the century-old printing tradition once and for all: Thanks to DTP it was finally possible to design page layouts directly from desktop computers so that they could go straight to the printer.
DTP services are used to design and prepare offline or online documents for publication. Modern page layout software is the key tool in this process. DTP artists must consider countless aspects in their work and find suitable solutions for various challenges. Typography-related issues are one of the most important aspects of DTP: Text content needs to be written in an appropriate font, be well legible, use consistent line spacing and line breaks, fit into captions, etc. However, text components are only part of what DTP experts do. To achieve an appealing document layout, DTP artists must keep many aspects in mind: Where should images be placed? Which fonts are most suitable? What font size works best? What are the clients’ requests for graphic design? Which colours look appealing in the document?
Desktop publishing services can be used to create page layouts for all sorts of written documents, and are particularly often requested for books, magazines and brochures, websites, e-books, e-learning material, advertisements and marketing collateral, info sheets and technical literature (technical documentation, usage manuals), etc. Achieving good DTP results is definitely not easy – even when DTP professionals work on documents in their own languages. But how about texts that are translated and then go through the DTP process?
What are challenges of document translation services and DTP?
Document translation on its own is challenging, and so is DTP. When translation and DTP are combined that leads to even more challenges, which will have to be solved. A well-established procedure for such cases is a continuous dialogue between linguists and DTP artists: Once the linguist has completed a text translation, the DTP artist starts working on the design. The linguist will then check the file and point out issues that the DTP artist should resolve. This process continues until both the linguist and the DTP artist agree that no more changes are needed and the file is ready to go to the client.
This is a tedious process and you might be wondering why it is actually necessary. Have a look at some examples to find out:
– When translating from one language to another, texts naturally become longer or shorter. This has a whole range of consequences, for example when text exceeds the space reserved for captions, or a translated brochure has more pages than the original and additional design components will be required on the extra pages, etc.
– As translation is not only about language, but also about culture, DTP localization should consider cultural differences. For example, it would be recommendable to exchange certain pictures because of cultural preferences or local norms, and DTP artists can fit them in, work on their colour tunes, adjust them, etc.
– Generally, languages with unique scripts, such as Japanese, Chinese or Khmer, but also languages with Latin based scripts that use diacritics (Portuguese, French, etc.) frequently pose typography-related problems. A linguistic check of formatted files will often be required to make sure that there are no font problems, missing diacritics, etc. Expert advice on which font to choose can be critical to select one that avoids technical problems and to ensure that it suits the purpose of the document. Imagine, for example that when a children’s book is translated, you will want to choose a font that is easy to read, while a flyer of an art gallery should use a font that is aesthetically particularly appealing.
– Certain languages, such as German or Finnish, are notorious for their extremely long words. In some cases there is simply not enough space to squeeze them in (for example a caption) and linguists often need to work together with DTP teams to find suitable solutions.
– Generally speaking, many languages come with their own specific challenges. Thai, for example, is often difficult to process because it uses only few blank spaces. While in most other languages blank spaces separate individual words, Thai uses them much less frequently (for example to separate two sentences, between first names and last names, before and after numbers, etc.). This poses problems for DTP because many Thai sentences contain so many characters without blank spaces in between that they do not fit into one line. However, line breaks cannot simply be inserted freely, and unless the DTP artist can read Thai, the linguist needs to advise where line breaks are permissible.
– While books in most languages are written from left to right, languages that are written from right to left, such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu or Hebrew, naturally pose additional challenges in DTP localisation.
A one-stop service provider – the ideal solution for document translation and DTP services
As illustrated above, when documents are translated, DTP can be extremely complicated. A company that first uses a translation agency, and then orders desktop publishing services from a different provider, will easily face problems. For example, when DTP artists work with a script that they cannot read, they simply will not know where line breaks can be inserted, they will not recognize incorrectly displayed diacritics, etc. This means that ultimately clients will have to run forward and backward between translation agencies and DTP artists, which causes a lot of extra work and significantly higher expenses.
Clients who order both translation and DTP from one single company do not have to worry about such issues. As linguistics and DTP departments in those one-stop service companies work together, clients will receive a turnkey product with high-quality translation and impressive layout.
As an esteemed document translation and DTP service provider in Singapore, elionetwork has all the human and technical resources to guarantee the highest quality standards for your documents. You can order ready-to-use document translations with perfect DTP. This approach will save you time, effort and costs. Contact us now to discuss your needs or request a free quote!