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DTP translation: When translated content needs a redesign

Published on April 25th, 2018

When graphic designs and other forms of visual content are translated into other languages, it’s not only the words that change. Chances are the layout of your design is going to be affected by the DTP translation and you’ll need to use different fonts to support special characters or writing systems.

In these cases, you need more than language skills; you need a translator who can keep your design consistent across multiple languages for every target audience. You need DTP translation and, in this article, we’re looking at what it can do for you.

What is DTP translation and why do I need it?

Desktop publishing (DTP) translation is the process of recreating a design in another language, making sure the visual elements are consistent across every version. Of course, the phrase “to run” looks different to the Spanish equivalent “correr” and there’s no getting away from the fact that words change visually as you translate them.

However, DTP translation minimises the impact on your original design.

Here are some common problems you might experience when translating visual content:

  • Words are longer or shorter after translation
  • This text expansion/contraction breaks the layout of your design
  • Your original font choices don’t support your target languages
  • Your original design is culturally irrelevant or insensitive to certain target audiences

DTP translation helps you deal with these issues and we’re going to explain these in more detail, one by one.

Dealing with text expansion/contraction

When you translate text, words become shorter or longer and this means sentences, paragraphs and entire documents can become up to 40% longer or shorter. If your original design is in English, it’s worth noting that translations into most languages will end up being longer.

This is called text expansion, which is generally more problematic than text contraction. When text becomes shorter, you can increase the spacing between letters, up the font size a little or even fill some space with longer words. When you’ve got space to fill, you have plenty of options, but it’s far more difficult to squeeze text into a small space.

Longer text can break the entire layout of your design but reducing font size might make your text less prominent, difficult to read or kill the visual balance of your content. It takes a more refined approach to deal with text expansion and protect your layout without making text illegible or reducing its impact.

The problem with DTP translation and fonts

Font choices are a crucial part of any design but it’s not easy finding fonts that support multiple languages. Even relatively similar languages like English, French and Spanish have different special characters (à, ç, é, ¿, etc.) that aren’t always supported by fonts and things get more complex as your language requirements increase.

Good luck finding a single font that supports Danish and Vietnamese special characters, for example.

Then you have different writing systems to think about, such as Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and Russian – just to name a few. To support a rich variety of languages, you’re going to need to find a range of fonts that support them but also maintain the visual style of your design brief.

Dealing with cultural factors

Something else you might find as you translate your designs for different audiences is your visual elements become less relevant or insensitive to certain audiences. For example, using graphics of Big Ben and other London landmarks might not be the best approach for targeting people in France, unless you’re specifically using these landmarks for branding purposes.

Likewise, a company promoting packaged foods might want to ditch the pork products from its posters for Muslim majority countries. The same thing goes for any cultural or historical references that might cause upset in certain markets. At a more basic level, you want to make sure any currencies, dates and contact details are localised in the correct format.

When you’re taking designs to multilingual audiences, it’s not only the language elements you have to consider, but also the entire design of your content. Translation affects the visual aspects of your design and our DTP translation services will help you keep things consistent across every language.

If you have any questions about translating graphic designs or other visual types of content, get in touch with our team of experts today.

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Posted on: April 25th, 2018