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Best practices for multilingual DTP (1/2)

Multilingual DTP Best Practices

Best practices for multilingual DTP (1/2)


This is the first of two articles providing practical tips for content creation. This time, we will present a series of easy tips for DTP tasks. Although it may not seem necessary, following these best practices will not only facilitate the creation and layout of documents, but will also reduce translation costs. Firstly, we will cover some basic but key points: selecting the right tool, tips for working efficiently with documents and graphics, and things to take into account in terms of text expansion.

First things first: the right content creation tool

Select your content creation tool according to the content you wish to create. For example, it is not recommended to use programs designed for creating presentations, such as MS PowerPoint, or spreadsheets, such as MS Excel, for the creation of technical manuals. These programs do not have the necessary features for the creation of whichever type of technical documentation you may require.

For example, user or repair manuals tend to have a lot of text, but they also contain graphics, tables, lists, etc. To facilitate searching and browsing, these documents have tables of content, keywords, cross references, etc. Therefore, in order to create this type of document, it is best to use a desktop publishing or layout program, such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe QuarkXPress or a text processing program, such as MS Word, Google Docs, OpenOffice Writer, etc.

A number of key factors for choosing a content creation or desktop publishing tool are set out below. It must be:

  • Suitable for the types of documents that you wish to create, i.e., it must have the necessary features
  • Multilingual and able to process all languages that you wish to publish (including Cyrillic alphabets, bidirectional scripts, etc.)
  • Easy to use or become familiar with
*(Author's note: for structured content creation (smaller information units that are then used to create larger documents), there are also multiple solutions. We will cover the topic of structured content creation in subsequent Globalízate posts.

Use suitable font types

When choosing the fonts for your publications, a key consideration is their multilingual capacity. In this sense, a best practice is to use OpenType fonts, which can display all characters from all of the alphabets of the languages you choose to publish your content in. OpenType fonts are also recommended because they can be used in both Windows and Mac OS (Apple).

Limit file sizes

Do not create files that are too large. It can be problematic to send very large documents or process them using computer-assisted translation tools. It can also cause an issue when, due to the urgency of a project, a translation must be split between various translators. If, when generating a document, for example a manual, it is divided into different chapters, this will facilitate the updating of such manuals and the reuse of previous translations, etc. If your desktop publishing or processing tool has book functions, use them for large publications.

Do not embed images

Embedding images in a file may significantly increase the size of the document. This then causes issues when sending the documents via email or FTP. Also, if images are embedded, the translated versions of the document must also contain these images and will thus also be as large in size. Instead of embedding images, link them within the document. That way you can use just one folder with all of the images for all of the translated versions of your document, and you will only need to duplicate and file images separately that differ from the translated versions (for example, if they contain graphic text or when they are screenshots of a localised software).

Leave space for expansion

Talking of space: when translating, a text expansion often occurs. Between certain language combinations, this expansion may be significant. When translating from English to Spanish, for example, a text expansion of up to 25% can occur. Leave enough space for this expansion in target languages on pages, in titles, tables, etc.

 

Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for more practical tips for high-quality content creation and best practices that will help you to reduce your translation and multilingual publication costs.

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