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Best practices for multilingual DTP (2/2)

Multilingual Desktop Publishing Best Practices

Best practices for multilingual DTP (2/2)

Practical tips for multilingual DTP

This is the second of two articles providing practical tips for multilingual DTP. Following these best practices will not only facilitate the creation and layout of documents, but will also reduce your translation costs. In this post, we will get down to the nitty-gritty: style templates, automatic features and recommendations for creating tables and how to avoid common errors that cause problems when processing your documents with computer-assisted translation programs.

Use style templates

Firstly, create a style template for the different styles you wish to use in your documents: a "Normal" style for body text; styles for first, second and third level titles, with their numbering; styles for lists with points, for cross references, etc. This will mean that your documents have an ordered, structured and clear format. It will improve the legibility, facilitate the search for information and favour comprehension.

In addition, it will simplify the creation of new documents. You don't have to start from scratch, as there is already a structure and aesthetic that you can base the new document on. It is also important to ensure that all authors are going to use this style template. That way you will create consistent documents with a style of their own, which will form part of your brand and help with branding.

Include the design rules of the style template in the content creation style guide.

Use automatic features

Optimise the use of the automatic features available in the desktop publishing or text processing program you use: keyword indexes, content indexes, cross references, etc. This will save a lot of time when creating the documents in the target languages and will facilitate document updates.

Creation of tables

Always use the feature that allows you to create tables instead of using tabs. When you translate your documents, an expansion or reduction of the text may occur, depending on the language combination. If you have created tables with the corresponding feature, these text length variations will be accommodated automatically and the layout work will be reduced to a minimum. 

Paragraph/line breaks

Do not use paragraph or line breaks for formatting. Such breaks can be interpreted in translation memories as the end of a phrase and cause segmentation. This means that these phrases will be segmented in the middle or to put it another way, 'split'. This not only hinders the translation but also the reuse of these phrases via translation memories, and as a result, increases the costs. To make matters worse, this can cause future translation errors.


Do not use tabs to create indents. The reason for this is similar to what we explained in the "Creation of tables" section. The presence of tabs makes it more difficult for the translated text to be adapted automatically to the layout and can cause the layout to be lost.

Lists of points

Avoid splitting a phrase into different paragraphs (e.g. into a list of points). Each point in the list should consist of a separate unit and each point in a list of points should correspond to a segment in a translation memory. If you split a phrase into different paragraphs, this may lead to incorrect segment matches if the syntactic order changes between the source and the target language. This can cause translation errors that may 'contaminate' the memory and be duplicated in future translations. 

Location of index markers

If you use index markers, place them at the start and end of the phrase. This will facilitate the work of translators when they translate the text in a computer-assisted translation program or translation memory.

Link text boxes

Do not separate text boxes to create text columns or to separate text from images. Link text boxes so that the text can 'flow' from one text box to another and from one page to the next in the layout of the text. By following these rules, if a text expansion occurs in the translation, you won't need to reformat each text box individually.

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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