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Why Desktop Publishing Matters To You


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Desktop publishing impacts all written content produced in print and online. In its simplest form, DTP (desktop publishing) comes into play every day when choosing typography, colors, margins, line spacing, backgrounds, tables, images, etc., in document, email and even online formats. However, desktop publishing is most commonly associated with layout programs that produce print-ready files for magazines, marketing collateral, packaging, manuals, business and legal documents, and large-sized print media. Even online format developers need to have some DTP skills in order to design websites and online applications. Between the two, this encompasses much of the written content produced. A translation vendor that has the staff and know-how to balance DTP considerations with translation functions can save you time and energy as well as help you avoid common cross-cultural pitfalls and make the best presentation of your company’s image.

All Electronic Files Are Not Created Equal

Here’s a common scenario:

You have a document in a PDF file format you would like to have translated and your vendor is requesting source files, the file format in which the document and images were originally created.

You may or may not realize that “output” files like PDF, TIF and EPS are not source files for desktop publishing and are not layout editable.

What if you can’t locate the source files? Without a translation vendor with desktop publishing experience, DTP management can be cumbersome, and you can find yourself with translation documents that do not meet your design expectations.

Time Is Money…Your Time That Is

Business cards—everybody has one, and it seems like they should be simple to reproduce in a target language, right? Business cards are a funny thing … they’re small, with not much text, but are jam-packed with detailed considerations. For our clients who need them in multiple languages, they can quickly become a burden to prepare. First, you have to get the translation. Then, you have to get the text laid out and print-ready. And finally, you have to send the files out for printing. This one small task can result in juggling three different people or vendors.

Handled this way, you have just anointed yourself Project Manager as you shepherd them from vendor to vendor. However, at McElroy, we can handle all of it. Once you submit the original text, we can translate it, lay it out, and get it printed, all to your specifications. And, even better, if you don’t know what your specifications are, we can offer you a few different designs and let you decide what you like best.

“Oh, that’s what you mean by localizing!”

When you hear about localizing a document, that is usually taken to refer to the target language of the document. But there is more to it than that. If you’re going to translate a brochure into Spanish, it’s important to know where and how the brochure will be used, so the language is right for that audience, but it is equally important that you have the visual elements of the brochure localized.

You want the colors to be appealing for your target audience. You want your fonts to evoke the same visual expression and response as the source fonts, should you need to change them due to language or expansion of text. And, you want your vendor to review photos for appropriateness.

A truly well-designed document (brochure, manual, etc.) tells a story with its photos. The photos draw you in, spark your interest, keep you reading. Look at each photo and the context it is being used in, and think about the message it is trying to convey. If the context is scenic, you need to find an equally compelling scenic picture that speaks to the location you are translating the document for. If the message is about people, you need them to be culturally specific and convey the appropriate message with their eyes and their body language.

Mood, color intensity, time of day, outdoor/indoor venues, and expression all play key roles in delivering a message. Are the people in the photo smiling? Why are they smiling? Are these genders, ages, and the spatial relationships between the people right for your audience? Do the images represent the message your organization wants to project to this audience?

The point is that it takes both cultural knowledge and a designer’s eye to be able to localize the visual aspects of a document. There is a reason the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so often repeated. Visual messaging and professional layout can be as important as linguistic expertise in representing your brand.

DTP – Seamless Integration

Concerned about file formats? A translation vendor with skilled in-house staff who really knows DTP can provide your translation in any application (Word, FrameMaker, InDesign, Quark, Illustrator, or Photoshop, just to name a few), and will deliver and/or archive both source files for future update capabilities and output files for viewing and printing.

You don’t have editable files? A good translation partner can work with you.

  • Will it be used for information only, so that the format only needs to be clean and clear?
  • Is it a manual or patent for filing that requires a particular format that may differ from the original, but must meet specific requirements?
  • Is it marketing collateral which must retain corporate messaging and branding, yet be localized with a high degree of aesthetic sensitivity to the audience?

Want to be sure you put your best foot forward?

Design capabilities may get overlooked compared to the more traditional aspects of translation value, such as linguistic quality and cost. We do frequently hear, however, that initial impressions are based on the appearance of a document. Even before reading the text, an impression of quality is formed by the appearance, i.e., the desktop publishing of the document. It’s one of the simplest, and often overlooked, ways to immediately impress.

McElroy is a full-service provider, with an in-house DTP staff who can help clients balance traditional translation issues with the value of protecting their organization’s image, both internally and externally. Questions? Comments? Just like to know more? Send an email to me - SUSAN. I’ll be happy to discuss your general concerns or specific project issues.









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