The Art of Desktop Publishing

Desktop Publishing
One may argue that desktop publishing is a slowly dying art. As technical communicators transition to the use of structured XML tools and writing scripts to automate the creation of instructional help, the art of desktop publishing (DTP) will forever disappear.

Creative work in otherwise heavily technical online material is bound to go. But what about printed manuals and creative pieces, like tutorials, getting started pieces, product packaging, marketing literature, sales collateral and corporate websites? Correct layout and desktop publishing are of essential value as they visually project the brand, quality and image of the product and company.

It is true that most translation memory tools take XML, HTM, FrameMaker, InDesign, MS Word or other file formats and maintain the basic formatting and structure of the document when outputting the target or translated files. But is this output final and ready for prime time? No, not even close!

As text undergoes translation, it typically expands in size requiring a process called repagination. The process of repagination includes eliminating orphan paragraphs, widow bullets, dead spaces and unnecessary blank pages. It also addresses page numbering issues ensuring that numbers follow in the correct sequence and are positioned in the correct places.

Furthermore, tables, localized images and callouts on images all need to be re-sized or moved around to accommodate the 10, 20 or even 50% increase in number of characters and to reflect the intended description. Issues such as truncated text or misplaced callouts should be addressed.

The table of content has to be recreated with the new headers and page numbers, and the index has to be sorted based on the new language’s alphabet or phonetic ordering.

Languages using Asian scripts, like Chinese or Japanese, should not include bold or italic characters as they possibly make the script illegible. Instead of bold for instance, larger fonts should be used. Instead of italic a different type font can be used.

GlobalVision has a 30 point checklist procedure that our DTP experts apply to ensure that each page is accurately desktop published. We also include one free cycle of changes to the target files after the client’s in-country review takes place and feedback is presented to us.

When bidding your localization projects to vendors, it is tempting to keep things simple by asking for and comparing rates. Make sure however that you inquire about the desktop publishing process that follows the translation. What it involves and how carefully each and every possible issue is addressed can make a big difference in the end result and your perceived image.

You pay a lot of money to have your material professionally translated. First impressions still count! Aim for and don’t accept anything less than a fully polished output. Desktop publish professionally too!

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