Tips for Multilingual Desktop Publishing

Share Article Publishing in several different languages is always challenging. Fortunately, there are a range of translation service providers with desktop publishing (DTP) on offer to ensure the entire process goes smoothly.

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Tips for multilingual desktop publishing

Publishing in several different languages is always challenging. Fortunately, there are a range of translation service providers with desktop publishing (DTP) on offer to ensure the entire process goes smoothly.

There is, of course, the language translation itself to think about, but also the desktop publishing issues that come with an international project, such as cultural concerns, formatting, budgeting and project management. To help content owners and publishers start on the right path, there are several guidelines they should take into account when embarking upon a multilingual project – with particular emphasis on desktop publishing issues.

These should be kept to a minimum when publishing material that is to be translated into many languages. Best practice in this scenario is to keep the design simple, as too many complicated design features may slow the process down and take up valuable storage or memory space. Images can be extremely large files, which can take a long time to electronically transfer during the DTP process.

When designing a project that is destined for multilingual DTP translation, it’s worth bearing in mind that some foreign languages can take up as much as 30 percent more space than English. Therefore, it’s wise to leave a fair amount of white space to avoid forcing the DTP professionals to shrink the font size or rearrange the design too heavily. If images, large sections of text and other content need to be completely repositioned the project may take longer and cost more.

When designing the layout of your copy platform or text, it’s also sensible to minimize the number of columns used as some languages, such as German, can include extremely long worlds, which can result in very disjointed text if inserted in a column design.

When selecting fonts, try to find ones that can be used for all the various languages the document will be translated to. OpenType fonts are useful because they can be used on a Mac or a PC – whereas, some PC fonts will not be compatible with Macs or vice versa.

Cultural Issues
This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of translation. It is also one that publishers may not automatically consider as being important. However, it’s vital that you think about images, symbols, gestures and even the colors you use to ensure they will not be deemed inappropriate or offensive to any of your global readers. For example, an illustration or image of a “thumbs-up” gesture used in the US is acceptable as it means “well done”, but it should not be used in Greece, Russia, Sardinia or West Africa as it may be construed as an inflammatory insult.

Although publishers must take heed of these guidelines when starting on their multilingual desktop publishing project, a qualified language service provider’s (LSP) desktop publishing specialist can help with the process. A professional and qualified LSP can provide first-class translation services and its expert constituents will work with your material to format that suits the unique localization requirements of each of your target readership.

Merrill Brink can help you sort language specific layout issues, as well as file conversion issues that may emerge. Its team has extensive knowledge of different publishing markets, software and specific cultural issues that may impact your multilingual project.
Merrill Brink also provides a range of practical tools, such as its iBudget cost-tracking system and iTrac Translation Management System (TMS) tracking tools, which make project management straightforward. Its OttoDoc automated workflow solution also ensures that the entire process goes without a hitch.

About Merrill Brink International
Merrill Brink International ( is a leading provider of complete translation and language solutions for global companies and law firms, with special expertise in serving the legal, financial, life sciences, software, heavy machinery and corporate markets. A proven leader with more than 30 years of experience, Merrill Brink offers a wide range of language solutions including translation, localization, desktop publishing and globalization services.

Merrill Brink is recognized in the industry for its commitment to quality and its pioneering approach of leveraging technology to reduce costs, eliminate redundant processes and accelerate translation life cycles. Merrill Brink is certified to ISO 9001:2008; ISO 27001:2005 and ISO 13485:2003, and registered to EN 15038:2006 and ISO 14971:2007. Together, these standards provide assurance that the most stringent process and quality standards for translation are followed. Merrill Brink International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merrill Corporation.

For more information, please contact Merrill Brink at translations(at)merrillbrink(dot)com or in the U.S., call 800-688-4400 or in Europe, call 353-(0)91-393000; Web:
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