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What Is Desktop Publishing and Why Do You Need It?
by Terralíngua      Posted in  May 26, 2015

What Is Desktop Publishing and Why Do You Need It?Desktop publishing is often something you will see offered by translation companies, but what is it? Why do you need this service added to your translation project?

Making Translation Perfect

Desktop publishing utilizes layout software to format text and images. A professional translation provider will offer this service to return a translated document in the same format as the original file. This is often referred to as multilingual desktop publishing, as the correct version of desktop publishing software is required for certain languages. Therefore when the Portuguese version of your brochure is returned, it will be print ready and formatted for this language. Translators who do not offer desktop publishing can only return translated copy in a text based format which will require manipulation on your end when the work is completed.

Many companies have an in-house graphic artist or a team to turn over the desktop publishing duties to at this point. However, especially if there is not a native speaker of the target language in the team, errors and omissions can occur when the text is placed into layout unless they are very careful. Many companies want their professional translation partner to provide this service so they have the peace of mind that the text is properly placed with the correct accent marks and fonts. A translation provider’s desktop publishing charge often includes a service called a post-layout proof, which means that the translator will review the text again in the formatted version to look for any improvements.

Desktop publishing is not a simple matter of replacing text with text. There are many special considerations such as an expansion rate with some languages (meaning it takes more words in a certain language to express the same idea). Unless space has been planned in advance for the expansion, extra time formatting is required to ensure the translated version has the same look. Some languages require less text, so the copy area becomes condensed unless a graphic artist is skilled in desktop publishing software.

It is important to ensure your localized document does not look as if it is a translated version. You want your audience to know that the same care that was taken to craft the original document was also given to their material.

Languages such as Arabic are written from right to left, which means that the original document needs to be modified and any graphics edited to fit the layout. Your clients will appreciate receiving documents that they can read comfortably and quickly in their own language, set out exactly how they should be read.

While it is true that translation does its job in communicating your message from the source language into the target language, it is desktop publishing that delivers the cultural or technical nuances in a layout that suits the target language. This is what makes your document not only readable in a foreign language, but embraces the cultural and technical differences in such a way as the document appears to have been originally written rather than translated into the target language.

Use a Professional Translation Company

Multilingual desktop publishing requires working with the correct software that provides multi-platform documents as well as being able to work in languages based on characters such as Chinese or Japanese. Though someone may be an excellent graphic artist in their native tongue, certain languages have complex rules and requirements to ensure the text will read properly. Your company may have desktop publishing software; however your software may not be the needed version to handle the fonts or layout of another language. A professional translation partner is your best bet to ensure the correct format will be returned, especially if you are unsure of your in-house abilities to handle a language.

If you work with a variety of languages in a number of formats and need to re-use your content, then a desktop publishing solution will increase productivity and reduce costs.

Productivity increases because with a desktop publishing service, such as DITA, you can maintain your content and re-use it efficiently. This reduces the time spent copying and pasting from one document to another. For example, you may have several instruction manuals with similar content.

A system like DITA also makes use of Adobe InDesign, which is still the definitive desktop publishing design system according to Forbes writer Tony Bradley. If you are dealing with customers abroad, presenting your documents in a professional format will only enhance your company’s reputation and ensure brand loyalty.

In summary, desktop publishing is a vital part of your company’s professional image in any language. When you market a product or service abroad, you will earn more confidence and trust in your brand if you provide material that effectively represents your message to your target reader. By utilizing a professional multilingual desktop publishing service, you can be assured your company’s image will be properly represented, and it also provides your staff time to concentrate on other tasks and projects.


Terralingua is a translation company who has assisted some of the world’s top brands with the power of multilingual desktop publishing. If you would like us to help your company properly translate, format and localize your documents for the global stage, please visit our website for further information.

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