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The Art of Multilingual Desktop Publishing and Typesetting

A common misconception of translation jobs is that they are limited to copy and written content. In reality, they extend beyond the written word into design, desktop publishing and typesetting.

metal typesetting letters on a table

While the bulk of the work is in translating text, marketing materials, annual reports and other business materials, it doesn't end there. In fact, one of the biggest challenges of multilingual communication is presenting the content in multiple languages while maintaining the integrity of the original layout.


Visual communication is more powerful than ever. Your message needs to be clear, resonant, and eye-catching to stand out and get attention from your audience. This is where multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) and typesetting services come into play.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Desktop publishing (DTP) and typesetting are essential aspects of multilingual communication.

  • DTP involves using design and software programs to create print-ready documents, while typesetting involves composing text and words to create an optimal reading experience.

  • Multilingual DTP and typesetting consider font sizes, line spacing, page layouts of the target language, as well as the overall look of the end product.

  • Ideally, multilingual DTP specialists and typesetters should be familiar with the languages they are working with to ensure that the copy is placed in the layout and designed in alignment with the rules of the target language.

  • Multilingual typesetting and DTP start with text translation, followed by typesetting and design adjustment, and end with an in-context review to ensure the translation quality and accuracy.

  • Multilingual DTP and typesetting can be used for both print documents and online content.

 

What is the difference between Desktop Publishing (DTP) and Typesetting?


One of the most common questions we get is, "What exactly is the difference between DTP and Typesetting?"


Let's start with Desktop Publishing Services.

In the simplest terms, DTP services involve the use of design and software programs on a "desktop" computer to create print-ready documents. These documents may include user manuals, reports, or marketing materials, such as brochures and flyers.


DTP allows us to create beautiful designs and layouts that enhance the visual aesthetic of a document, thereby amplifying the key message it's meant to convey. When working on a translation project, the desktop publishing team needs to consider multiple things, including, but not limited to, the target language's font size, line spacing, and page layouts, to ensure that the end product meets the client's specifications.


What about Typesetting?

Typesetting refers to the composition of text and words on a layout to create an optimal reading experience. Quite literally, the setting of the type. It is one element of design, but good typesetting is an art form and is a vital part of the translation process as the content size can drastically change in translation, and the copy typically needs to be reset.


In simple terms, desktop publishing refers to the overall design of the material and content, while typesetting specifically refers to the art of arranging the text in a way that optimizes the reading experience.


Multilingual Desktop Publishing and Typesetting

Now that we've covered the basics of DTP and Typesetting, let's jump into the ins and outs of Multilingual DTP and Typesetting.


Multilingual typesetting involves the process of typesetting translated text in different languages into layouts designed to showcase the text in the best way possible. Multilingual typesetting takes into account the font sizes, page layouts and overall look of the end product.


Multilingual DTP specialists play a vital role in creating print-ready documents in the required target language (or languages) aligned with the business' brand image. Not only should the text be correct, but it needs to be placed into layouts that fulfil the branding requirements and adhere to the linguistic rules of the target language. Skilled graphic designers and typesetting teams typically work with popular software programs such as Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress and Microsoft Publisher.


Ideally, for multilingual projects, the multilingual DTP specialists and typesetters should be familiar with the languages they are working with to ensure that the way the copy is placed in the layout and how the text is designed is aligned with the rules of the language they are working with, i.e. the direction of the text, justification, etc.


From translation to typesetting and desktop publishing: a step-by-step process


Text Translation

The process of multilingual typesetting begins with the translation of the source text. Professional translators who work with different languages ensure that the translated text accurately conveys the message of the original text. They also take into consideration text expansion, which can be an issue when translating from English to languages such as Arabic or Indian languages.

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Typesetting

Typically, when it comes to translated materials, there is a source design file containing the content in the source language. Once the translation is complete, the typesetting team works on a new language version of the document while maintaining the original design. This involves adjusting column widths, line spacing, and sometimes the direction of the text for right-to-left scripts. In the case of user manuals or other technical documents, the typesetting team must also work with CAD software to ensure that any related graphics programs are correctly typeset.


In an ideal world, the text could fit right into the design of the original document. If we're working on this basis, then a typesetter would be all you need, but as this is not typically the case, a typesetter and DTP specialist might have to work together to redesign the document in a way that still reflects the original design but is optimized for the target language.


It is important to note that multilingual DTP and typesetting are not limited to print documents. The same process is also used for typesetting online content such as PowerPoint presentations or website content. In the case of websites, language service providers may offer online typesetting services to ensure that the website's basic functionalities and browsing experience are not compromised.



In-Context Review

As it goes with every translation project, there is always a final check or audit of the content.


At LEXIGO, as a triple ISO-certified company, we have an extremely stringent quality assurance process.


Our ISO-17100 certification ensures our translation quality and process, which includes a quality assurance check. Our ISO-9001 Quality Management certification showcases our top-tier quality management system.


Our initial quality assurance check assesses the translation text before it is typeset or placed into the design. We also have a second in-context review that happens for the typeset files.


In the DTP and Typesetting process, while placing the text into the design file, a number of errors could occur that the typesetter or designer might not pick up on. On the other hand, the design and copy might be perfectly placed, but the context of the content might need to be reviewed for cultural sensitivities. The typeset files are usually sent back to the professional translators for a final quality assurance check to ensure that all the text is correct and that the final design is also culturally appropriate and relevant. Once the copy and design pass the quality assurance check, the final files are sent to the printer.



When working on a translation project, working with a translation company that offers professional typesetting services is crucial. The translation company will ensure that not only is the quality of the translation up to par but that the end product meets the needs of the target audience.


Final Thoughts


Language service providers that offer multilingual DTP services understand the importance of presenting foreign language texts in a professional manner. Whether it's an annual report or a single business card, the overall look of the end product should convey a high-quality message that resonates with the target audience. Multilingual typesetting and desktop publishing are essential in this process.


Working with a professional translation company that offers multilingual DTP services ensures that businesses can accurately communicate with their customers in any language. Whether it's Latin script or right-to-left languages, multilingual typesetting provides an end-to-end solution for creating professional-looking documents in any language.


Learn more about LEXIGO's translation services here.


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