Saturday, October 10, 2015

How to create Translation-Ready Materials

Your time and cost can be saved by creating documents that are developed with translation in mind – from the beginning. Minor issues in small files like instructions manuals or catalogs can quickly become time consuming and require hours of formatting before translation can even begin. Consider how your catalogs, manuals, or documents are assembled. There are several areas where a file and its content can be optimized for translation.

1. Table of Contents
A correctly set up table of contents will be automatically recreated in the translated version, potentially saving hours of costly and manual post-translation formatting work. Keep this in mind, your goal is to minimize the need for desktop publishing. Please note, that languages grow and/or shrink as they are translated.

2. Non-editable elements
Do you have headings in your file? Are these editable text, or converted to outline text (stylized)? A common detail of design agency-created content is outline text headings, which need to be manually recreated in order to edit the text. It is advisable to avoid using outline text unless your goal is to prevent the text from being edited.

The 'f.y.i.' and company logo graphics are examples of non-editable elements
You can used outline text effectively for any content which should not be localized, such as product names, company divisions or industry-specific regulation names.

3. Graphics

Text in graphics is another common feature in many types of documents. Whenever possible, avoid the use of text in graphics and choose editable keys instead. Again this is because translated text grows and/or shrinks. If your graphic does fit the new translation, your layout and graphic could appear skewed. This includes numbers in the image, and text under graphics.

Also, plan for what you don’t want to translate, as well as what you do. Placing all non-translatable content in a separate InDesign layer, for example, ensures that requirements are clear and saves on manual preparation time. Your InDesign layer, the one with non-translatable content, can simply be hidden. With your content hidden, the translation team will focus on everything else, text, layout, and formatting.

Our translation team fields best practice questions regularly, we are happy to answer any of yours, feel free to give us a call.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Translated Languages Grow and Shrink

One of the dynamics in translating languages is the increase or decrease in word counts, which can increase or decrease pagination.  So, what is word count?  Word count is the total number of words counted in a particular piece of content needing translation. Let's use this phrase as an example of word count, "Make content development accessible to all team members" has a total of 8 words. Now let's translate the same phrase into Spanish "Haga que el desarrollo del contenido sea accesible para todos los miembros del equipo". Whoa, that's quite a bit more words then the original. Let's review the Chinese translation, "讓團隊的所有成員都能參與內容開發". Well, that certainly makes a difference in word count, too. 

The increase or decrease in word count affects the layout of content, which can affect the contents pagination. So what is pagination? Pagination is the process of dividing (content) into pages, either electronic pages or printed pages. Meaning after your company’s manual has been translated into Spanish or Chinese, the page count and format may not maintain the same pagination as the original English version. Due to each languages' word count, your company’s manual may need reformatting to ensure the same information is displayed and maintained in a similar format when compared to the English version.  An example of a typical page(s) that frequently requires reformatting following the contents translation is the table of contents.  The table of contents may need updating and often times reformatting due to the increase or decrease in page counts of your newly translated content. 

Most language companies quote translation projects based around 2 variables, word count and formatting.

TL; DR: Translations cause content to grow or shrink in size due to the nature of languages. This, in turn, requires content to be reformatted for layout, readability, and continuity.

Visit us at and learn how your content will increase or decrease in any target language.